Grunin Prize Winners: Where are they now?

The Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship aims to reward the innovation, replicability and/or scalability, and potential impact of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. 

The prize was first awarded in 2018, and our five winners and their projects pan the globe and are representative of the extraordinary and expanding legal community of practice that is emerging in these fields.

You can meet our 2022 Grunin Prize winner, The Nature Conservancy - Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation Program, here.

After winning the Grunin Prize, our first four winners have continued to engage in impactful work. They share their stories with us today:

 

2021 Grunin Prize Winner

Beccar Varela - Trust of the Argentine Network of Municipalities against Climate Change (RAMCC Trust)

 

Daniel Levi, Partner, Beccar Varela: 

"Thanks to the public exposure that we got after winning the Grunin Prize, we have been invited by local financial regulators to develop creative structures for the financing of social-impact ventures (such as in the “Sumatoria” case that we mention below). We also pushed internally for enhancing our ESG practice, by hiring a partner specialist in Environmental and Climate Change matters. Our compliance expert that worked with the RAMCC trust (Dorothea Garff) gained an international scholarship from the International Anti-corruption Academy to improve the sustainability and transparency in local governments public procurement processes.

Since then, we continued working on several social entrepreneurship and impact investing related projects. Just as an example, in December 2021, the NGO Sumatoria (www.sumatoria.org) issued its first social bond in the local capital market, for AR$30 million, and a second series in March 2022, for AR$ 60 million, with both sustainable and gender purposes. This was the first time a non-profit organization in Argentina could finance its external funding activities in the capital market. Beccar Varela led the complex negotiations with the national Securities and Exchange Commission (CNV) and advised all parties (including the NGO and the securing banks), aligning the notes with the 2021 Social Bond Principles of the International Capital Market Association and in accordance with the CNV´s guidelines for the issuance of Social, Green, and Sustainable bonds. 

The award has helped us strengthen our engagement and solidify our internal impact working group where employees across multiple teams share experiences and discuss new ideas on how to promote a triple impact view across industries and practice areas. 

In December 2021, Beccar Varela was honored to receive the Chambers & Partners inaugural Latin American award for the region´s Environment/Sustainability Program of the Year. The global recognition from Grunin contributed to highlighting our team´s dedication and commitment."

 

2020 Grunin Prize Winner

Goldstein Hall - Joint Ownership Entity (JOE)

 

David Goldstein, Managing Partner, Goldstein Hall PLLC:

The COVID-19 pandemic did not thwart the social impact mission and achievements of Goldstein Hall, winner of the 2020 Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. Lead partner David Goldstein says his firm’s work, particularly its close collaborations with nonprofit housing developers and community organizations, has flourished during the past two years.

Notably, Goldstein Hall continues as legal counsel for the Joint Ownership Entity of New York City, or JOE NYC. The JOE, a nonprofit umbrella organization of community development corporations, pools its members’ resources so they can boost their purchasing and operating power to jointly own and asset manage or develop affordable projects. Its largest deal to date, Central Brooklyn, was a $100M-plus transaction involving 525 units in 87 buildings that were renovated and managed by four nonprofit groups in the JOE. Since 2020, Goldstein Hall has been involved in 10 JOE deals for the renovation of approximately 1,500 affordable units with New York City, and additional JOE projects are expected which could bring in another 1,500 units over the next few years.

Goldstein has also begun working with The Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) an umbrella organization for community-based organizations addressing housing affordability in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to create a similar entity that will help those organizations collaborate, generate cost savings, pool their portfolios, and strengthen their positions to maintain and increase the local stock of affordable housing.

Most recently, Goldstein Hall represented RiseBoro Community Partnership in a federal lawsuit litigating Riseboro’s right to enact its purchase option for an affordable housing project 15 years after its initial inclusion in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The lawsuit, on the so-called "right of first refusal" after the Year 15 tax credit compliance period, led to successful negotiations for an agreement to ensure the permanent affordability and oversight of nearly 200 apartments that were part of the federal program. As part of its work on the case, Goldstein Hall led advocacy efforts that helped educate and unite almost 100 New York City and national nonprofits about potential threats to their LIHTC projects. Goldstein also appeared on NPR affiliate WBUR to discuss the case, noting its implications for affordable housing across the country.

Goldstein Hall continues its focus on community revitalization, maintaining certification as a Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) committed to positive social impact through its work as legal counsel for nonprofit groups dedicated to renovating or building affordable housing.

 

2019 Grunin Prize Winner

Social Finance, Inc. - Veterans CARE Project

 

Navjeet Bal, Managing Director and General Counsel, Social Finance, Inc. & Leslie Cornell, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel & Policy Advisor, Social Finance, Inc.:

Since receiving the Grunin Prize in 2019, Navjeet Bal, General Counsel and Leslie Cornell, Deputy General Counsel, have continued to expand the impact investments practice at Social Finance, Inc. (SFI), a national impact investing nonprofit. Navjeet and Leslie have led the SFI legal team to structure and document innovative impact finance transactions, always with a focus on being “impact-first.”

Key projects include: 

Workforce Development

SFI has created and expanded a workforce development financing tool to support low-wage earners in obtaining career training, with repayments triggered only when a graduate has obtained a job making over a minimum income threshold. 

  • The UP Fund – A $50M private fund to student-friendly financing to expand access to workforce programs such as coding bootcamps and diesel technician training. 
  • Pay It Forward Funds – SFI is working with states, philanthropies, and nonprofits across the country to establish Pay It Forward Funds in which any repayments students make flow back into the fund to help support future students. 
  • The Google Career Certificates Fund – SFI is managing the program which will allow learners to earn Google Career Certificates and receive wraparound support services to help them prepare for good jobs. Learners have access to zero percent outcomes-based loans to help remove the risk typically involved in upskilling. 

Equitable Education Access

  • Dreamers Graduate Loan Program – SFI launched a fund to provide student loans to Dreamers for graduate school education, at a rate comparable to the federal graduate student loan rate, which Dreamers cannot otherwise access. 

Receiving the Grunin Prize helped to affirm the importance of the SFI legal team in the design and implementation of innovative and impact-first investments at SFI. Since 2019, the SFI legal team has tripled in size and helped to significantly expand the scope of impact products offered to support SFI’s mission and scale its impact.  

 

2018 Grunin Prize Winner

Pamela V. Rothenberg, Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP 

 

Pamela V. Rothenberg, Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP & Mark M. Newberg, President, Stockbridge Advisors, LLC:

"Performance Aligned Equity (PAE) is a novel investment structure that we developed in collaboration with a group of impact investors and an impact entrepreneur. 

In 2018, we were honored to receive the inaugural Grunin Prize for Social Entrepreneurship for the PAE structure.  PAE was initially designed as a vehicle for early-stage investments in impact companies that allows the investors to achieve a rate of return on and of their investments that is aligned with the company’s revenue stream; and enables the company’s founders to retain control of the company and safeguard its impact mission. PAE can be readily adapted for other types of equity investments, including those needed by rental housing owners and developers, since the cash flow projections from these communities (i.e., the revenue that underpins PAE’s core rate of return and associated redemption terms) are routinely computed and reliably used for traditional real estate private equity transactions.

Since 2018, we have continued to promote the use of PAE, including publishing this article demonstrating PAE’s potential use as a capital tool for affordable housing transactions.  Mark continues to provide consulting services to institutions and enterprises, focused on impact and ESG integration, and most recently he was the lead author of the Desktop Manual for Impact Policymakers. Pam continues to serve as a trusted legal advisor to impact companies.  Most recently she assisted an impact start-up form a joint venture with a high-profile impact investor to launch an early-stage investment fund focused on entrepreneurs and accelerators providing world class solutions for people with disabilities."