Together, NAAF and Neuberger Berman will execute the largest and most ambitious philanthropic investment program supporting Native American agriculture in the history of the U.S.
The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) began delivering on its mandate to distribute a trust fund of some $266 million in 2019. Recently the organization — the country’s largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native American farming and ranching community — has selected Neuberger Berman to serve as Investment Manager.
Neuberger Berman met the rigorous criteria of the NAAF Investment Program, which conducted a nationwide Request for Proposal process. Neuberger Berman’s investment approach was aligned with NAAF’s values that center on long-term investment returns — meaning environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors are taken into consideration.
“We have the opportunity to effectuate great, positive change in Indian Country, and Neuberger Berman is the right partner at the right time to help us meet this moment,” said Vincent Logan (Osage Nation), Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer for the Native American Agriculture Fund. “If we hope to fulfill this promise, it is imperative that we build a deep and robust asset management relationship with a firm that is dedicated to the unique demands of our ambitious mission.”
Together, NAAF and Neuberger Berman will execute the largest and most ambitious philanthropic investment program supporting Native American agriculture in the history of the United States.
To offer some background: The Native American Agriculture Fund was established as part of the Keepseagle vs. Vilsack lawsuit settlement. This case established that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against Native agriculture interests in loan programs and servicing as far back as 1981. NAAF’s fund was the final piece of the settlement, and the organization was given 20 years to distribute its funds totalling nearly $266 million to 501(c)3 organizations, educational organizations, CDFIs and Native CDFIs, and Tribal governments.
Looking forward, NAAF and Neuberger Berman will work closely as they see to the management of the Fund assets.
“Native American Agriculture Fund’s Investment Committee developed a rigorous selection process and Neuberger Berman was the clear choice because of their expertise in these categories,” said Jim Laducer (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), Chair-Elect of the Native American Agriculture Fund Board of Trustees. “Neuberger Berman has extensive knowledge in ESG investing, which was important for the NAAF Board of Trustees. Neuberger Berman’s values are in line with our own.”
The portfolio will be managed to suit the NAAF institutional design, with appropriate risk management while allowing for the flexibility and liquidity necessary to support the Fund’s mission.
“We look forward to building an investment program together and supporting NAAF and its constituents’ investment objectives including considering material ESG factors,” said Joseph Amato, President and Chief Investment Officer, Equities, Neuberger Berman.