Impact New Jersey: Building Back Better

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed more than 150 people in the U.S. and caused an estimated $65B in damage – making it the 2nd costliest U.S. hurricane.

As the second anniversary of Sandy approached, Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation and their advisors at UBS had a clear goal: help affected New Jersey counties build back better.  They wanted to partner to better understand ongoing housing insecurity in these counties and continue refining opportunities for how the Foundation and others could support those still in need. They asked if we could help.

We, of course, jumped at the chance!

UBS and JBJ Soul are now leading a new coalition of companies and leaders called Impact New Jersey, which pairs place-based investments with a fixed rate of return with market-rate investments. Investment funds are directed to key partners working in targeted areas: affordable housing, mortgage relief, and local economic development. This innovative approach brings together a unique partnership among investors, donors, and community partners to drive social change, hopefully paving the way for similar initiatives. The Center’s work was instrumental to developing this innovative place-based strategy.

“People who want to do good with their money can see positive impact in communities and help with long-term recovery while earning money,” says Bon Jovi of the collaboration. “Imagine what a difference we can make with the ‘Power of We’.”

Excerpt of Our Findings

 The economic downturn of 2008 hit many New Jersey counties hard, where foreclosures, unemployment and the need for ‘safety net’ services were on the rise. Sandy served as a powerful and enduring force to destabilize communities.

Philanthropic capital, though generous, was insufficient to offset the high cost of repair and housing-related expenses of homeowners and renters. And, as a result, years later many affected residents now face depleted savings, homes still in disrepair, and significant mental health challenges and other stress.

The large-scale, complex governmental response left many residents needing ongoing case management services and education regarding how to navigate the recovery and rebuliding process. Importantly, successfully navigating that process does not guarantee sufficient capital/support to meet residents’ needs.

Read the Coalition’s impact investment strategy, Impact New Jersey

Read the 2015 New York Times article announcing Impact New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi, the Jersey Shore and the Impact Investing Strategy

  • Our Center serves as an independent, trusted source of guidance because we identify evidence-based and actionable solutions across a range of investment opportunities. We found that these communities had market-based, impact investment opportunities that could address rebuilding and economic development needs left unmet by current philanthropic and governmental funding.” – Kat Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director, Center for High Impact Philanthropy

  • Donations, while wonderful, weren’t enough to address the ongoing challenges. So we wanted to attack this in a different fashion by leveraging capital into lasting change.” – Bill Sutton, Head of Client Philanthropy at UBS

  • We (the Center for High Impact Philanthropy) helped match the communities’ needs with diverse and robust set of philanthropic and impact investment opportunities. We hope the lessons learned here will make this pilot an example of collaborative change that’s possible elsewhere – even beyond disaster relief.” Carra Cote-Ackah, Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, Center for High Impact Philanthropy