Bruton and Sierra Leone child
Karen Bruton, a Brentwood fund manager, aims to raise up to $95 million for Hope Investments and has made clear her own income from the fund will flow to a charitable relief organization she founded earlier.
The investment fund's March 29 filing with the SEC says no more than $25 million will be raised through June 30, but the longer-term goal is $95 million, a staging that is tied to impending SEC rule changes, according to a source. The filing indicated two $250,000 investments had at that point been secured.
When reached by VNC, Bruton declined to comment for publication, beyond acknowledging the SEC filing and her commitment to Just Hope International (JHI).
JHI is the charitable organization Bruton founded to address clean water and nutritional needs in impoverished nations; longer-term goals include cultivation of educational and micro-business infrastructure and resources, according to JHI materials obtained. The JHI model calls for creating sustained presence in communities and providing schools, medical clinics, feeding centers, health initiatives and orphanages, with an eye toward supporting eventual self-sufficiency.
Also associated with the raise filed last week is Alex Nicholson. VNC research shows this is the former president of Nicholson Hi-Fi, the long-time Nashville audio retailer that sold to Birmingham-based AVX in 2007. Nicholson once lawyered for ITEL Corp. and earned a Stanford University law degree and an MBA from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management.
Named in the filing, also, is Todd Harman. Harman, formerly a pastor, is now executive director of JHI. Online information shows he is also a volunteer with The Raining Season, a relief organization closely aligned with JHI and based in Spring Hill. Hope Investments' SEC filing was signed by David Burn, an attorney with Drescher & Sharp.
JHI initiatives have thus far focused on Sierra Leone, Malawi, Nicaragua and the U.S., research indicates. In Sierra Leone, which has extremely low annual per capita income, Just Hope aims to "to bring commerce, education, faith and health to a remote community through a phased project approach," according to materials obtained. The Sierra Leone initiative will cost at least $1.5 million and donations for that work are being sought to augment funding from other sources, including donations from Bruton from her earnings with the investment fund. Bruton has previously stressed that plans call for JHI continuing to have zero administrative overhead, as is apparently now the case.
Bruton, a CPA, earned an MBA at Wake Forest University and twin bachelors in math and accounting at the University of North Carolina; and, she began methodically investing and trading in public markets in 2001, according to VNC research.
Bruton founded Just Hope International in 2007, the same year she resigned from her vice president and controller post at Brentwood-based Franklin Industries. (Franklin Industries is the parent of Franklin Industrial Minerals, which in 2006 was sold to a subsidary of Belgium-based Lhoist Group, after years of ownership by Rodes Hart, a Vanderbilt University trustee emeritus.) VNC