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Blended finance and impact investment competition supports social equity and economic opportunity

The Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School announced today a new student competition supporting the center’s Invest for the Future initiative. Through the competition students will learn about social impact and environmental-themed financing and investment models, such as blended finance and impact investing. This initiative is in partnership with Bank of America, a founding sponsor of both Invest for the Future and the new competition.

The competition, titled “Launching Investment for Future Transformation” or LIFT, is a pioneering blended finance challenge asking students to propose investment and finance solutions that focus on using sustainability to drive social equity and economic mobility.

Students will learn about blended finance, an approach that helps to stimulate and mobilize additional private capital to scale sustainable development and can include public or philanthropic funding. The initiative aims to expand knowledge about how blended finance can help scale impact for sustainability projects that might have been unable to gain funding due to potential associated risks. Students will receive coaching on how to develop sustainable solutions; and build deeper expertise in these financing structures.

“While students learn about these important, complex issues, they will research, explore and propose solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Jeff Mittelstadt (MBA ’07), executive director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and a professor of the practice of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “They also will start building a global network of like-minded students and business leaders.”

“Having students study how finance can be part of the solution is a critical element as they become the next generation of emerging leaders who will drive social and environmental impact through positive, profitable investments,” said Alex Liftman, global environmental executive at Bank of America. “We are proud to support the LIFT competition and the Invest for the Future initiative launched by the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.”

The overarching IF initiative will ensure UNC Kenan-Flagler students have training in essential environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in finance and investment analysis, and be well prepared to enter the workforce as ESG professionals.

“Our goal is to design the most comprehensive, cohesive ESG integration, sustainable finance and impact-investing program possible,” said Mittelstadt, “so that we prepare future business leaders to drive positive social and environmental impact through profitable investments.”

“We are honored by the support of Bank of America,” said Mittelstadt. “In addition to its financial support, Bank of America brings its expertise in blended finance to support climate resiliency, access to clean energy, affordable housing, water, sanitation and more.”

The competition will be held this fall, and details include:

  • Open to graduate and undergraduate students – from any department or school – enrolled in higher education institutions throughout the world
  • Held online to expand access to experiential learning, networking and competing by removing the financial barriers of travel
  • Engagement with business leaders as mentors and judges, who will have the opportunity to identify the top emerging talent in the fields of blended finance, sustainable finance and impact investing

With support from Bank of America, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise hired student interns to help organize the competition and create resources for student competitors.

The competition is a strategic step in fully launching the Center for Sustainable Enterprise’s Invest for the Future initiative. It includes a new Leadership Council of alumni and industry leaders to advise the Center for Sustainable Enterprise on expanding the center’s work and meeting industry needs.

“Through the LIFT challenge and Invest for the Future, we are bringing our alumni network together with professionals around the globe to make sure we fulfill the roles industry needs while providing networking and career development opportunities for our students,” said Mittelstadt.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Consistently ranked one of the world’s best business schools, UNC Kenan-Flagler offers a broad range of programs – Undergraduate, MBA and Master of Accounting, PhD and Executive Development – and extraordinary, real-life learning experiences. Faculty demonstrate unparalleled dedication to students’ learning and a commitment to world-class research that addresses critical business challenges. Contributing to the School’s thought leadership is the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, which promotes innovative, market-based solutions to vital economic issues. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s collaborative culture is rooted in core values that date back to its founding in 1919, and graduates are renowned as effective, principled leaders with the technical knowledge and leadership skills to deliver results in the global business environment.

Center for Sustainable Enterprise 

For over 20 years, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise has been a leader in education, research and best practices in the triple-bottom line approach, which measure success in terms of financial profitability, ecological integrity and social impact. It prepares students and business leaders in their quest for shareholder and stakeholder value while exercising environmental stewardship and promoting economic development and growth. It is an affiliate center of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

Bank of America

Bank of America is guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. It delivers on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across its eight lines of business and reflects how Bank of America helps fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace they create for their employees, the responsible products and services they offer clients, and the impact they make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together their collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.