Making its Second Investment, NYU Impact Investment Fund (NIIF) Invests in Company that Teaches Girls to Code

The student-led NYU Impact Investment Fund (NIIF) has successfully completed its second investment with a $25,000 investment in SmartGurlz, whose mission is to engage elementary school aged students, in particular girls who are currently underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), to learn skills in coding.

SmartGurlz is a STEM education and entertainment company whose flagship product is a line of friendly, self-balancing robots and action figures that engage and encourage girls to learn code. Connected via smartphone or tablet, SmartGurlz allows girls 6 and up to immerse themselves in STEM. The investment was made in the form of a convertible note and on NIIF’s behalf by ImpactAssets, a Donor Advised Fund. 

This NIIF milestone was the culmination of a year-long experiential learning course in which graduate students of NYU Wagner and NYU Stern were placed in five deal teams to source, screen, conduct financial and impact due diligence, develop investment memorandums, and make competitive presentations to the Fund’s Investment Committee composed of three Stern and Wagner alumni practitioners:  Graham Macmillan of the Visa Foundation, Monique Aiken of Mission Investors Exchange, and Casey Clark of Rockefeller Capital Management. The legal due diligence for these investment prospects was conducted by students in NYU Law School’s legal clinic, making this a unique experiential learning curricular collaboration among three NYU schools.  This investment follows NIIF’s first investment last year in Sapient Industries, whose mission is to eliminate waste from the electrical grid using machine learning.

NIIF continues next academic year with a diverse group of 30 student participants, 15 from each school, competitively selected from more than 60 applicants. There will be an emphasis in the coming year on identifying enterprises focused on resilience and racial justice. Having recently received a $100,000 commitment, NIIF continues to actively seek philanthropic support to scale both the impact and sustainability of this innovative experiential opportunity. 

About the NYU Impact Investment Fund

Developed as a joint venture between the faculty advisors and students of New York University's Stern, Wagner, and Law schools, NIIF leverages the diverse expertise of business, public service, and law faculty to support student investors targeting social enterprises in the sectors of financial inclusion, environment, healthcare, aging, education, and food systems.   The experiential course includes processes to train the students on impact investing, provides practitioner guest lecturers, and creates an interdisciplinary learning laboratory.  NYU schools' development staff are also pursuing additional donations and grants for NIIF to enable this experiential platform to continue well into the future. Learn more on the NIIF website.