1. Who we are
  2. Values
  3. How We Work
  4. Strategic Plan
  • Promoting self-sufficiency, excellence and innovation in Colorado communities since 1946.

    The Gates Family Foundation makes philanthropic investments statewide that contribute to the quality of life in Colorado, create opportunities for youth, and support stewardship of this extraordinary place, particularly the state’s natural inheritance.

    As of the end of 2015, the Foundation had invested more than $250.1 (excluding PRIs) across Colorado towards these ends. In carrying out its mission, the Foundation strives to maintain a long‐term perspective and focus on the challenges and opportunities that will have the greatest impact over time on the people, communities and resources of the state.

  • The legacy of the Gates family in Colorado is shaped by certain core values: innovation, citizenship, free enterprise, self-reliance, striving for excellence and an entrepreneurial spirit.

    The Gates Family Foundation will continue to embrace these values and reflect the following attributes:

    • Strategic - concerned with impact and value added/leverage
    • Forward looking - taking a long-term view
    • Good partners - approachable, supportive, and respectful of partners and collaborators
    • Data and information driven
    • Flexible, adaptable
    • Bipartisan and fair
    • Rigorous
    • An agent for constructive change
  • Historically, the Gates Family Foundation was primarily a capital grant maker. More recently the Foundation has expanded its toolbox of funding options.

    Beginning in 2012, the Foundation moved to a hybrid model that combines responsive grant making with more Foundation‐initiated activity focused on specific outcomes. The Foundation will use Program Related Investments (PRIs) and Mission-Related Investments within its investment portfolio as vehicles for increasing its near term impact. PRIs include various forms of low-interest loans and recyclable investments designed to provide less than market returns on capital. Mission-Related Portfolio Investments generally include market return investment vehicles.  Significant resources remain committed to a responsive capital grant making program.  However, the capital grant making program is more competitive.

    A portion of the Foundation’s resources has been shifted to priority areas relevant to addressing the long‐term challenges described in the Initiatives section of this website. In these priority areas, the Foundation will initiate more and use a broader set of tools and strategies, working in conjunction with appropriate community partners. We invite you to explore the Foundation's website to learn more about these new funding areas.

  • In 2011, the Gates Family Foundation undertook a comprehensive update of its Strategic Plan.

    The Foundation generally updates its strategic plan every five to six years. These updates provide an opportunity to revisit priority interests, assess circumstances and emerging trends statewide, review strategies and tactics and consider the effectiveness of the Foundation’s grant making program. What has emerged from this most recent strategic planning process is a new approach that combines capital grant making with Foundation-initiated activity in a limited number of priority areas. The trustees want the Foundation to be both a resource for important capital investments by nonprofit and community organizations and an investor in and agent for progress and constructive change in areas that will shape the long-term future of the state.

    Consistent with the core values and historic interests of the Foundation, the trustees have committed to increase its efforts in responding to four long-term challenges facing the state:

    1) The challenge of educating all of our children – A significant proportion of Colorado children are not achieving the minimum level of academic proficiency necessary for success in later life.  A growing population of children faces limited prospects and dramatically reduced opportunities to participate in the economic and social life of Colorado communities, let alone function as global citizens.

    2) The challenge of providing responsible stewardship of our natural resources – Colorado’s natural resources face challenges due to climate change, significant declines in forest health, increased potential for catastrophic wildfires and significant impacts due to energy development and growth of the recreational economy.  Population growth increases pressures on natural systems and drives the conversion of more land and water to urban use. 

    3) The challenge of accommodating more people – Colorado’s population is anticipated to double within the next 40-50 years.  The kinds of communities we create to accommodate the needs of this much larger population will have profound implications for a variety of aspects of life in urban and rural communities throughout the state.

    4) The uncertain future of rural communities – Rural communities and rural culture are an essential part of the identity and character of Colorado.  But the future facing rural communities is full of challenges.  Many face unprecedented growth pressures, while others are struggling to survive.

    To read more about this new strategic direction, please read our 2011 Strategic Planning document.

News & Items of Interest

Standing in the Gap Awarded an Emmy
River Health Boosted by Reservoir Release
Historic Apple Orchards Making a Comeback in Cortez
Aurora Public Schools approves CMO and Gates grantee Rocky Mountain Prep to Open

Gates Fellowship

Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Highlights of GFF Activity

Subtext on main page (usually 1-2 sentences):  Over 86,000 acres of land in Southeast Colorado have recently been preserved through conservation easements on two large ranches by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), with support from the Gates Family Foundation Focus Landscape Program. These successes were highlighted in a recent Denver Post article, emphasizing the role of conservation easements in preserving rural ranching and agricultural economies, conserving healthy regional ecosystems, and maintaining scenic views and open space.

The City of Fort Collins has been looking at ways to augment in-stream flows on the Poudre River for decades, and the vision is now closer to becoming a reality. Working with parties like the City of Greeley, Northern Water, and local irrigators, a recent effort by GFF grantee, the Colorado Water Trust, would allow water-rights holders to use the augmentation plan provisions of state water law to dedicate water to healthy river flows. The City Council vote was covered in a recent Coloradoan article.

Improving community health outcomes through transit equity has been a focus of Mile High Connects (MHC) since its formation in 2011, and MHC’s collaborative work in this arena was recently highlighted as a successful model in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.