2021 Annual Report - Gates Family Foundation

2021 Annual Report

Letter from the President & Board Chair

Despite challenges, 2021 was a very full and productive year for the Foundation. Regrettably, it was the second year of the pandemic, with another round of disruptions and uncertainly. The arrival of vaccines in the spring was a welcome milestone, followed by boosters for many in the fall. Summer was a period of relaxed restrictions and increased optimism.

Unfortunately, by late summer the situation had changed once again. By year-end we were all forced to recognize the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant and the surge in infections that would follow in early 2022. This pattern did allow the Foundation to hold its first in-person board meeting and annual retreat in June of 2022. It marked the first in-person board gathering since December of 2019. We were also able to hold an in-person board meeting in Colorado Springs in December. The Foundation staff were able to return to the office on a more regular basis in June and July, but by August had reverted to a predominantly remote mode of work. That pattern continued through March of 2022. Currently the staff is once again in a hybrid mode, splitting time between in-office and remote work.

While the pandemic continues to impact communities and daily life in many ways, for the most part in 2021 the Foundation’s focus largely returned to its core areas of interest. 2021 did not see the substantial repurposing of resources to support a variety of COVID relief needs that was a critical part of Foundation activities in 2020.

Strategic Planning

Every five years the Foundation undertakes an in-depth strategic plan review, with the board and staff devoting significant time to update the Foundation’s priorities and strategies. This process spanned most of 2021, with the Foundation board adopting the updated strategic plan for the next five years (2022-2026) in December, which is available here. The Foundation partnered with Boldly Go Philanthropy in the design and management of the process. Summaries of the plan and recordings of staff-led informational webinars are here. Our website is currently under construction and will soon reflect our updated strategies, as well.

This strategic planning process began with an in-depth review of the Foundation’s experiences and learning from the previous five years. We also assembled a great deal of information on trends in Colorado and the philanthropic sector. The process also involved the most extensive outreach we have ever undertaken as part of such a process. Staff used a variety of tools including surveys, focus groups, one on one interviews, empathy interviews with those most directly impacted by issues of interest, and other approaches to solicit feedback from grantees, partners, stakeholders, community leaders and others. Staff members shared top takeaways from what we learned throughout 2021 via blogs on our website here.

Major themes of the new strategic plan include:

  • Updated mission, vision, and values: The Foundation works with partners and communities to build a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable Colorado for all.
  • Elevating diversity, equity and inclusion and climate as two critical lenses through which all Foundation activities need to be viewed. The board and staff also produced the Foundation’s first equity statement.
  • Maximizing the Foundation’s capacities to partner, convene, catalyze, and lead that the Foundation has built over the last five to 10 years.
  • K-12 education: Continuation of the strong focus on educational equity, with increased emphasis on innovative school models and learning environments (including out-of-system options) and rural education needs, particularly the challenges of recruiting and retaining diverse talent.
  • Natural resources: Continuation of a strong emphasis on private land conservation and land trust community capacity, balanced water solutions, and climate, with an elevated focus on forest health and watershed restoration.
  • Community development: Prioritizing economic mobility strategies and affordable housing, while continuing to engage in historical areas such as community planning, food systems, mobility options, and small business support.
  • Informed communities: Extending the Foundation’s commitment to continue to include this work in its core priorities, focusing on evolving and strengthening the civic news ecosystem, addressing gaps in coverage in the Foundation’s core areas of interest, and advancing more inclusive civic news leadership, voices, and models.
  • Capital grants: Continuing to be a resource for a wide range of capital grant needs and exploring how we can provide support earlier for smaller, diverse organizations that may not yet be ready to undertake a significant capital project. Also exploring ways to share information on capital grant projects throughout the state with a wider universe of potential donors and supporters. Continuing Gates’ history of supporting the next generation of diverse leadership throughout the state.
  • Impact investing: Expanding the Foundation’s impact investing program, increasing program-related investment (PRI) program capacity, and targeting a higher percentage of mission-related investments within the Foundation’s private equity portfolio. Using available analytical tools to better understand ESG issues in the public equity portfolio and to move towards a net-zero carbon posture over time.
Teacher in foreground reads to elementary school students

Education

K-12, higher ed, and community partners joined forces in rural areas and beyond, to create new and innovative learning options for students.

Two men stand by a ditch in Southern Colorado

Natural Resources

Another hot, dry year underlined the need for continued focus and collaboration on water conservation, land use, fire mitigation, and soil health.

Montbello Organizing Committee FreshLo Hub

Community Development

Food hubs and systems, urban parks, affordable housing, and community-building initiatives were among our supported projects.

2021 by the Numbers

Over the course of 2021, the Foundation distributed just over $23 million in grant funds through 230 grants. Of this total, 105 grants totaling $9.3 million were made through the main Foundation. Just over 42 percent of these grants were focused in rural communities, and another 31 percent had statewide benefit. The balance of $13.74 million in grantmaking occurred through the eight family funds held at the Foundation. These funds allow individual or groups of family members to use the infrastructure of the Foundation to engage in philanthropy that may have a different topical or geographic focus than the main Foundation.

Highlights of the Foundations grant commitments in 2021 include:

  • K-12 Education – 20 new grant commitments totaling $1.44 million
  • Natural Resources – 11 new grant commitments totaling $638,000, as well as another $1.02 million committed to land conservation work in priority focus landscapes
  • Community Development – 13 new grant commitments totaling $530,000
  • Informed Communities – one new impact investment totaling $750,000
  • Capital Grants – The Foundation received 107 requests and made 57 new capital grant commitments totaling $2.44 million. 51 percent of these commitments supported projects in rural Colorado communities. The Foundation paid out a total of $3.37 million in capital grants in 2021 (a combination of current year and prior year commitments)

Impact Investing

Colorado Community Media newspapers

Colorado Community Media newspaper group, a 2021 Gates impact investment

The past year was also a busy year for impact investing. The Foundation approved four new MRIs within the portfolio focused on climate solutions, deep tech startups associated with the University of Colorado Boulder, social inequality, and water sharing between agricultural and urban water users in the Colorado River Basin. These commitments totaled $6.4 million. The Foundation also approved nine new PRIs. These concessionary uses of capital totaled $17.4 million. These commitments were largely low or no interest loans of capital, but one took the form of a guarantee, and another a direct borrowing and re-lending to support a second round of access for Colorado nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institutions to participate in the final round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Overall, these PRI commitments addressed a diversity of needs, including supporting local journalism, producing affordable housing, providing capital to small businesses, promoting homeownership for Black households, protecting high value agricultural land and water rights, and providing access to healthy food and affordable housing in a food desert.

In total, counting all forms of capital deployed for mission-relevant purposes, the Foundation put $46 million to work for philanthropic purposes in 2021 (including grantmaking, impact investing, investment in human capital, and use of Foundation-owned real estate).

Other Noteworthy Items

Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the Foundation’s portfolio earned a total return of 20.4 percent in 2021. This robust performance will support higher levels of grantmaking and impact investing in 2022.

Due to the pandemic, the Kennedy School program for state and local government leaders was again not offered in 2021. As a result, the Foundation did not accept applications last year. A new class was selected in 2022, and the Foundation will be sending both those individuals and the 2020 cohort of Gates fellows who were selected but unable to attend. In total, the Gates Foundation will be sending 15 state and local government leaders from Colorado to the program in the summer of 2022.

Gates Rubber Company tower

Gates Rubber Company tower

The Foundation also had two staff transitions late in 2021 and January of 2022. Russ Schnitzer accepted a conservation-focused position out of state in the fourth quarter. Program Officer Whitney Johnson was promoted at year-end to senior program officer to take over the role of leading the Foundation’s natural resources work. In January of 2022, Abby Schaller accepted a position with the Walton Personal Philanthropy Group here in Denver. We are excited for these new opportunities for both Russ and Abby, and Whitney’s opportunity to play a greater leadership role. The Foundation will be hiring a second natural resources team member in the summer of 2022 and a senior program officer for the education team towards the end of the year.

While the pandemic has presented challenges, it has also presented opportunities to deepen our relationships with grantees, partners, stakeholders, and fellow funders. Last year’s strategic planning process also provided an important opportunity for the staff and board to learn, reflect, and engage a multitude of perspectives. 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Foundation. In many ways it was the perfect time to reconnect with our roots as a place-based philanthropic organization, the people and communities we attempt to serve, the realities of our time, and the challenges and opportunities that may lie ahead.

We are eternally grateful for all of the people who have helped, encouraged, and challenged us along the way. We remain immensely proud of and committed to Colorado, with all of its magnificence and imperfections, its deep rooted inequities, and still limitless potential. We continue to be grateful to work with so many amazing people that contribute so much to making Colorado a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable place for all.

Sincerely,

Dane G. Harbaugh
Board Chair
Gates Family Foundation

Thomas A. Gougeon
President
Gates Family Foundation

2021 Financials

Total Philanthropic Activity:
$46.0 million

2021 GFF Total Philanthropic Activity

GFF Strategic Grants Paid:
$5,699,000

2021 GFF Strategic Grants Paid

Gates Responsive Grants Paid:
$3,572,273

2021 GFF Responsive Grants Paid

Grantee Paid in 2021 Type Strategic Priority Area Served
40 West Arts Inc. $30,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Jefferson

Academy 360 $15,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

America Succeeds $132,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

American Rivers, Inc. $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Alamosa

Art Center of Western Colorado $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Mesa

Artspace Projects, Inc. $75,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Ouray

Audubon Rockies $50,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Aurora Economic Opportunity Coalition $20,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Arapahoe

Aurora Public Schools $250,000

Capital Grant

Education

Arapahoe

Avesta Capital LLC $25,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Avesta Capital LLC $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Avesta Fund I $148,500

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development, Natural Resources

Beartooth Capital Fund III $239,766

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

Colorado and beyond

Bellwether Education Partners Inc. $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Bent County Historical Society $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Bent

Bicycle Colorado $75,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Blackhorn Ventures – Industrial Impact Fund $450,000

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

Colorado and beyond

Boss Generation $15,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Boulder

Branson Reorganized School District RE-82 $15,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Las Animas

BuCu West $20,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

BuCu West $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Buff Venture Fund $

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

Building a Better Colorado $75,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Alamosa

Center for Community Wealth Building $35,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Chalkbeat $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Clayton Early Learning $125,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Climb Higher Colorado $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust $20,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Colorado Charter Facility Solutions $0

Program-Related Investment

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Charter Facility Solutions $100,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Children’s Campaign $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Community Media $0

Program-Related Investment

Informed Communities

* Statewide

Colorado Education Organizing Funder Collaborative (CEO) $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

Colorado Enterprise Fund – FirstBank PPP Credit Facility $6,250,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition $20,000

Strategic Grant

Informed Communities

* Statewide

Colorado Future Farmers of America Foundation $50,000

Capital Grant

Natural Resources

Larimer

Colorado Impact Fund $129,629

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

Colorado Impact Fund – Bridge Fund I $124,140

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

Colorado League of Charter Schools $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Mountain College Foundation $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Garfield

Colorado Public Radio $50,000

Strategic Grant

Community Building

Denver

Colorado State Conservation Board $50,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Colorado State University $130,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Colorado State University $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Garfield

Colorado Succeeds $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Youth Congress $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Colorado Youth Congress $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Community Builders $95,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Community Resource Center $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Community Resource Center $10,000

Strategic Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

Continental Divide Trail Coalition $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Jackson

Convivir Colorado $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Creede Repertory Theatre $15,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Mineral

Crested Butte Land Trust $100,000

Capital Grant

Natural Resources

Gunnison

Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Teller

Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth $0

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Denver

Denver Museum of Nature and Science $105,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Denver Public Library $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

DreamSpring – FirstBank PPP Credit Facility $6,250,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

DSST Public Schools $75,000

Capital Grant

Education

Denver

Early Connections Learning Centers $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

El Paso

Edgewater Collective $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Jefferson

Education Reform Now $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

El Alba LLC $55,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Arapahoe

El Laboratorio $20,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Elevation Community Land Trust $75,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Elevation Community Land Trust $175,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Encourage Capital – One State Investment Partners Fund $

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Enterprise Community Partners Inc. $40,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Mesa

Family Tree, Inc. $15,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Arapahoe

Fax Partnership (The) $25,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

First Southwest Community Fund $5,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Focus Points Family Resource Center $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Food Bank of the Rockies $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Mesa

Fremont RE-2 School District $100,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Fremont

Friends of Ski-Hi Park $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Rio Grande

Friends of the La Veta Library, Inc. $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Huerfano

Full Circle of Lake County $30,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Lake

Generation Schools $100,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Greater Colorado Venture Fund $100,000

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

Gunnison Arts Center $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Gunnison

High Country News $50,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development, Natural Resources

Delta

High Line Canal Conservancy $100,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Higher Ground BMX $10,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Conejos

Hinsdale County $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Hinsdale

History Colorado $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

indieDwell $250,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Pueblo

Jesus on Colfax Ministries $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Arapahoe

Judi’s House $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Arapahoe

Keep it Colorado $125,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Keystone Policy Center $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Kids First Health Care $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Adams

Kids in Need of Dentistry $15,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Adams

Kindred Kids Child Advocacy Center, Inc. $35,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Fremont

Kwiyagat Community Academy $250,000

Capital Grant

Education

Montezuma

Laradon $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Latino Leadership Institute $50,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Learning Council (The) $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Delta

Lifespan Local $75,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Loaves and Fishes Ministries of Fremont County $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Fremont

Lyme Timber Company LP – Opportunities Fund $40,000

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

Colorado and beyond

Lyra $315,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Manna The Durango Soup Kitchen $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

La Plata

Mercy Housing Mountain Plains $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Mile High Connects $75,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Montbello Organizing Committee $100,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Montezuma Land Conservancy $74,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Montezuma

Moonshot edVentures $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

Mountain Studies Institute $27,500

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Montezuma

National Council on Teacher Quality $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation $225,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

National Western Stock Show $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

National Wildlife Federation $40,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

New Venture Fund $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Nourish CO $35,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

NPX Charitable Inc. $25,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

NPX Charitable Inc. $50,000

Strategic Grant

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

Ouray Ice Park $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Ouray

Owl Ventures $2,040,000

Mission-Related Investment

Education

Palmer Land Conservancy $0

Program-Related Investment

Natural Resources

Pueblo

Palmer Land Conservancy $590,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Otero

PGIM Impact Value Partners $64,762

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

Colorado and beyond

PlatteForum $10,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Posada $30,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Pueblo

Project Worthmore $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Arapahoe

Pueblo City-County Library District $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Pueblo

Radian $10,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Reach Capital II $181,000

Mission-Related Investment

Education

Colorado and beyond

Reach Capital III $268,000

Mission-Related Investment

Education

Regional Transit-Oriented Development Fund $693,092

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Denver

RiNo Gives Back $35,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust $315,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

Alamosa

RISE Colorado $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Arapahoe

River Science $75,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Fremont

Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center $25,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation $50,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

* Statewide

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation $32,500

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Pueblo

Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute $50,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Denver

Rocky Mountain Public Media $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

Rocky Mountain Public Media $100,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

RootED $400,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

Rose Affordable Housing Preservation Fund V $930,000

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

Colorado and beyond

Rose Community Foundation – Colorado Media Project $300,000

Strategic Grant

Community Building

* Statewide

Salo Sciences $50,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition $20,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Alamosa

Sand County Foundation, Inc. $13,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Savio House $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Jefferson

Sonoran Institute $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Springboard Child Care $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Arapahoe

Stead School (The) $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Adams

Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation $50,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Lake

Teach For America $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Pueblo

Telluride Foundation $200,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Montrose

The Colorado Sun $500,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Building

* Statewide

The Nature Conservancy $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

La Plata

Town of Hayden $20,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Routt

Trout Unlimited/Colorado Council $100,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Trust For Public Land $45,000

Capital Grant

Natural Resources

El Paso

University of Colorado Healthcare Innovation Fund $170,000

Mission-Related Investment

Community Building

Colorado and beyond

University of Denver $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

Urban Land Conservancy $150,000

Capital Grant

Community Development

Denver

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe $15,000

Strategic Grant

Community Development

Montezuma

Valley Settlement $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Garfield

Veterans Community Project $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Boulder

Water Education Colorado $5,000

Strategic Grant

Informed Communities

* Statewide

Water Education Colorado $25,000

Strategic Grant

Natural Resources

* Statewide

Wildlands Restoration Volunteers $25,000

Capital Grant

Natural Resources

Boulder

Women’s Bean Project $25,000

Capital Grant

Community Building

Denver

Youthroots $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide