Afterglow Climate Justice Fund

Afterglow Climate Justice Fund

Interview with James Pippim, Senior Associate






Jen: How was Afterglow Climate Justice Fund Created? 

James: Climate justice has always been a focus for Candide, as is apparent from relationships like Posigen and Solar Holler, that date back to 2017. Our belief is that, as impact investors with a commitment to social justice, our role should be to zoom in on the social aspects of the transition to a low carbon economy. While institutional capital is increasingly flowing to finance this transition to clean energy, we’re always looking to ask who is benefiting from this transition and who isn’t.

We have also specifically identified a need for debt capital to fund project deployment in this space. In 2021, Candide launched the Climate Justice Investment Collective with three founding members — the Grove Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation and Ceniarth. This pushed Candide to further tighten our focus on climate justice and seek additional deal flow. The MacArthur Foundation heard about this work from these founding members and reached out to us to hear more about it. MacArthur proactively pushed us to consider a fund vehicle, which would enable MacArthur and others to participate in this deal flow. The fund officially launched in November 2023 with MacArthur as one of the fund’s anchor investors.

James Pippim, Senior Associate, Afterglow Climate Justice Fund

Jen: How are your investment funds catalytic in a way that is different from other funds?

James: The fund has a Community Advisory Board that is integrated into all of processes, utilizes non traditional credit evaluation, and designs loans starting from the needs of borrowers and their communities.

Jen: How do you describe the kind of non-financial returns the fund offers?

James:  Complimentary benefits will include providing relief for wealth-deprived communities, eliminating prejudice and discrimination, and combating community deterioration.

Jen: Can you describe how you use integrated capital to do your work?

James: Afterglow’s capital will finance new inclusive underwriting models, provide bridge financing for tax credits, development capital for construction facilities, and/or bring down the cost of capital for frontline community development. We lend to organizations serving communities living in persistent poverty, facing high energy costs, lacking access to clean transportation, and disproportionately suffering from the effects of extreme weather. In addition to providing capital aligned with the needs of these organizations, we will offer non-financial assistance, such as access to networks.

Jen: How do you address racial justice, income inequality, and/or gender justice through your products and services?

James: The need for ‘early stage project finance’ is a well-known gap in the climate space. But this need is that much more pronounced when it comes to climate justice-focused developers, since (i) these developers can rarely attract much equity capital at the corporate level (they are likely to be SMEs, not venture style businesses) and (ii) they are often pursuing some kind of alternative inclusive financing models, which makes it even harder to access that early project capital. The Afterglow Climate Justice fund aims to address both of these issues.

The Afterglow Fund focuses on the root causes of the climate crisis through an intersectional lens of racism, classism, capitalism, economic injustice, and environmental harm. With this approach the fund aims to expand access to and ownership of affordable clean energy solutions for communities marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by climate change.

Solar installer Haley Stephens, left, and production supervisor Shay Taylor install a new rooftop array at a Huntington home as Solar Holler completes its 1,000th installation in 2022. Photo Credit: Solar Holler

Jen: Can you share with us an example of an investment? 

James: Afterglow is providing a loan to support the predevelopment activities for three community solar projects developed by the Green Energy Justice Cooperative (GEJC). GEJC is a cooperative formed by Blacks in Green and other local Chicago nonprofits. Subscribers to co op will benefit from reduced energy bills and gain economic benefits through coop distributions. GEJC is an exciting example of local communities leading, owning, and managing their clean energy resources. 

Jen: What do you tell people who think your fund is risky?

James: Energy bills are often the first bills people pay even when they are living with energy costs. Therefore people are likely to continue paying those bills when clean energy delivers cost savings. By underwriting loans using data points like energy bill savings instead of credit scores which have historically excluded frontline communities, Afterglow can derisk investment while delivering economic benefits to people who need it the most. 

Investment Thesis/What is your rationale for your approach to investing?

The fund seeks to expand access to ownership of affordable clean energy solutions for communities marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by climate change. The Fund was specifically designed to achieve these goals by providing debt to primarily community-centered clean energy developers to finance distributed generation solar installation projects, electric vehicles, green buildings, and other projects, with an explicit focus on serving historically marginalized communities. Complimentary benefits will include providing relief for wealth-deprived communities, eliminating prejudice and discrimination, and combatting community deterioration. 

GeographyAcross the United States

Year Founded: 2023

# of Investments: 1

# of Investors: 26  (donors, funders, supporters, investors) 

Funds Raised: $46,000,000 since inception (July 2024)

What’s on James’ Mind?

Book: Afterglow: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors 

Song: Grace by CARTOONS and Rae Khalil 

Podcast: I don’t listen to podcasts so I will recommend the reimagined version of Jorja Smith’s falling or flying album. The original is great as well.