The Local Institutes

“Transform Finance’s approach helped me realize I knew more about the financial system than I thought. I always considered it to be intimidating. For me, the Institute did a great job distilling the current system, infusing social justice goals, identifying current resources and re-imagining future possibilities.”

Nedra - 2019 Atlanta Institute participant

Starting in 2019, we have taken a localized version of our flagship Transform Finance Institute for Social Justice Leaders to Atlanta, Phoenix, Cincinnati and Denver. In each city, we collaborated with several Local Champions and entities to curate the content, case studies and attendees to achieve the following goals:

  • Develop a shared language and baseline understanding around finance, as it relates to/can be in service to social justice

  • Facilitate connections and conversations between values-aligned local participants and networks that represent the wider local ecosystem of actors engaged with capital for social justice and

  • Expand the collective imagination of possibilities around engagement with capital locally

We demystify financial terminology and mechanisms over the course of two in-person training days, while also designing the Institute experience in such a way to center and empower Local Champions, because we know that they are the ones who will carry the work forward in their cities. In our efforts to democratize finance and investment knowledge, we are proud to share that the majority of our participants self-identify as coming from marginalized communities.

Portland Institute - December 3-4, 2019

Louisville Institute - October 11-12, 2019

Louisville's social entrepreneurs are working toward building an inclusive economy where cooperatives counter trends in income equality and discrimination. Where conventional corporate models are failing urban neighborhoods, the Louisville Association for Community Economics is building cooperative alternatives. LACE is helping neighbors create  & control new businesses, starting with the Louisville Community Grocery - a grocery cooperative - and build wealth. Local champions Cassia Herron and Amanda Fuller of LACE are excited for the Institute to help bring together Louisville's social justice activists, philanthropic community, finance and entrepreneurial sectors to explore new economic tools and a vision for a new economy that centers equity, justice and wealth-creation. Thank you to our collaborators: Federal Reserve of St.Louis; Community Foundation of Louisville; 1619Flux; Carrie B. VanWinkle and Andy Loving of Just Money Advisors & Natural InvestmentsLHOME;  and Park Community Credit Union.

Denver Institute - May 10-11, 2019

Denver is full of leaders of color, entrepreneurs, community organizations, and other entities seeking out creative economic opportunities, growing their small businesses, strengthening community development, establishing cooperatives, and organizing around other key issues. According to local champion, Davian Gagne (Transformative Leadership for Change), these leaders of color are imagining new ways of resourcing their work as a way to challenge and disrupt ongoing gentrification, lack of access to capital, and predatory lending practices that have impacted many different communities in the Metro Region. Along with other local champions, Yessica Holguín (Center for Community Wealth Building) and Crystal Middlestadt (Chinook Fund), we are excited to bring the Institute to Denver to explore new economic tools and continue innovating around finance for social justice.  

Cincinnati Institute - April 24-25, 2019

Cincinnati is at the heart of some of America’s most exciting community and economy development, according to local champions Derrick Braziel (MORTAR) and Kristen Barker (Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative). The Institute will build on the pioneering work already being done by the local community around social entrepreneurship and socially-conscious funds by exploring new economic tools and unlocking potential for underserved Cincinnatians.

Phoenix Institute - March 9-10, 2019

Phoenix continues to experience displacement in communities that have been marginalized for decades. Moreover, new investment is accelerating inequality and nonlocal land ownership. Despite these strong headwinds, communities are fighting for social justice by combating predatory lending, offering micro-loans for local entrepreneurs to generate local wealth, and increasing homeownership for people of color, according to local champion Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona Foundation.

Along with other local champions, Katelyn Harris-Lange of the African-American Women's Giving and Empowerment Circle and the Vitalyst Health Foundation, we are thrilled to bring the Institute to Phoenix so the city and its community members can keep innovating around finance for social justice.

Atlanta Institute - February 8-9, 2019

Atlanta is full of community organizations that are hungry to attract the capital for programs, jobs, and developments to grow their neighborhoods in a just and equitable way, according to local champions Nikishka Iyengar and Melonie Tharpe (The Guild). But despite (or perhaps because of) the prevalence of finance and banking in the city, Atlanta is still in its early days of impact investing and including communities in the conversation around capital flows. With The Guild, as well as local champion TransFormation Alliance, we are hopeful the Institute will catalyze the process of dozens of community organizations engaging with finance as a tool for social justice.

If you are interested in bringing Transform Finance to your city for a Local Institute, please contact Eric at for more details.

This work is made possible through the support of the Surdna Foundation.