Rukaiyah Adams to Lead Fund Dedicated to Portland’s Black Community

The newly established fund has received $400 million from the family of a Nike co-founder and will invest in real assets.

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Rukaiyah Adams, former chief investment officer of Meyer Memorial Trust, has launched a new fund dedicated to serving Portland’s Black community.

The newly-established 1803 Fund is starting with an initial investment of $400 million from Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny Knight, according to a press release. Adams will serve as chief executive officer of the fund and plans to hire a vice president of investment who will report to her.

“I absolutely loved being a CIO. It was my favorite job my entire life,” Adams told II in an interview. “But it was increasingly clear that I had outgrown the constraints of the role. I want to think more broadly than just optimizing returns. I did some reflecting during my sabbatical, and it was clear that I was ready to step up into the [chief] executive role.”

The first project of the 1803 Fund, called “Rebuild Albina,” aims to improve the lives of Black residents in Albina, which is a collection of neighborhoods located in the North and Northeast sections of Portland. “Black people have always been central to Portland’s economic success, but have rarely had access to the benefits and advantages that enable wealth creation and collective wellbeing,” said Ron Herndon, board member of the 1803 Fund. “The Rebuild Albina project hopes to change that trajectory.”

Adams said the project is one that she deeply resonates with and that she plans to invest in real assets to improve the living condition of the Albina community.

“Living in a place like Portland, I’m very proximate to people in this community, [from] the folks who live in multi-family housing that we might own to the people who will be affected by natural resource allocations that investors make,” Adams said. “I think it would mean more for me to do what was right by the public good and to make money at the same time.”

Adams said the fund will be solely focused on real assets at the beginning. “If we can grow larger than I expected, then I think we will take on a more conventional endowment approach to the assets,” she said.