PHILADELPHIA, PA., June 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today CARS Inc. announced that it has changed its corporate name to Aeris, and launched a new brand and product suite to strengthen its core purpose—guiding capital to investments that create opportunities for underserved communities across America.
Aeris' rebranding connects to its strategic goal of making CDFI (community development financial institution)* loan funds a recognized asset sub-class in the mainstream fixed income markets over the next 10-15 years. A combination of the Greek word "aer" (air) and the initials I.S. (information service), the Aeris name denotes the organization's effort to increase transparency in community investing through improved information.
"Aeris is offering new products that make it significantly easier for investors to identify, underwrite, and monitor CDFI investments that align with their risk and impact objectives," said Paige Chapel, President & CEO of Aeris. "The breakthrough availability of real-time, standardized data should unlock community investing opportunities for wealth management firms, pension funds, and other new CDFI investor entrants."
"It is satisfying to see CARS come into its own as Aeris," said Mark Pinsky, President & CEO of Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) and Board Chair Emeritus of Aeris. "This realizes the vision that OFN had ten years ago when we launched CARS® Ratings to bring more capital to low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities by increasing transparency of CDFI investments and helping CDFI investors focus on both CDFI financial performance and impact." OFN spun off Aeris (then called CARS Inc.) as an independent organization in 2012.
Aeris also announced the launch of the Aeris Cloud, the first-ever online portal for data and analytics on the financial and impact performance of community investments. A new CDFI Selector enables investors to search for investment opportunities by Impact Area (e.g., women, food access, healthcare, education), representing a significant breakthrough in the ability of impact-oriented investors to target their capital.
"Our research has concluded that there are exciting opportunities to expand the market for community investing in the United States among new investor entrants," said Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF and US SIF Foundation. "We support Aeris' strategy to connect potential community investors with opportunities that meet their impact objectives."
The Aeris Cloud provides multiple information touchstones to help investors understand both the impact and financial performance of the sector. The Aeris Cloud comprises several new data and analytic products, including Aeris Performance Maps™, Aeris Explorer™, and Aeris Opinion Reports™, which became available today. Read more about these products, as well as the flagship Aeris Ratings Report™ (Powered by CARS®), at AerisInsight.com.
"We recognized early on that standardization and increasing the availability of transparent data is critical to expanding the market for CDFI investing," said Kristen Scheyder, Senior Program Officer at the Citi Foundation, the lead funder of the development of the Aeris Cloud. "We have been pleased to partner with Aeris to develop these tools, given its decade-long track record of collecting and analyzing CDFI performance data."
* CDFIs are mission-driven financial institutions that make loans and investments to create economic opportunities in underserved markets of the U.S.
Aeris is an information service for community investors, who invest to create economic opportunities in underserved markets. Aeris provides data, analysis, ratings, and advisory services to support underwriting and monitoring of community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Its proprietary CDFI ratings tool (CARS®, the CDFI Assessment and Rating System) helps investors evaluate opportunities that meet their impact goals and risk parameters. More than 60 of the nation's leading community investors—from AARP Foundation to Wells Fargo—currently subscribe to Aeris' data and analysis products. Read more at www.AerisInsight.com.
About Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)
OFN, the leading network of private financial institutions, creates growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals, and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low-income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2012, OFN's Network originated more than $33.3 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native communities, and financed development/rehab of 960,000 housing units, started or expanded nearly 94,000 business and microenterprises, and helped create or maintain nearly 600,000 jobs. More information is available at: www.ofn.org.
About US SIF
US SIF – The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. Read more at www.ussif.org.
About the Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress in communities around the world and focuses on initiatives that expand financial inclusion. We collaborate with best-in-class partners to create measurable economic improvements that strengthen low-income families and communities. Through a "More than Philanthropy" approach, Citi's business resources and human capital enhance our philanthropic investments and impact. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
CONTACT: Matt Royles Aeris firstname.lastname@example.org 267.233.5155