While Colorado as a whole has experienced a period of rapid population growth in recent years, the benefits — and the challenges — are not spread evenly. The Front Range and some mountain towns are growing in size and prosperity, while many rural communities are in decline as mining, oil, and gas industries exit and family farms and ranches struggle. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice movement have exposed and exacerbated systemic inequities that must be addressed, in order to ensure a prosperous state and quality of life for all.
In response to these realities, Gates Family Foundation’s Community Development program prioritizes communities that have historically been excluded from decision-making power or faced barriers to accessing opportunity, such as low-income residents and Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, and other communities of color. We support solutions that build a just and inclusive economy in Colorado, and advance economic mobility for all. We seek out and support resident-led efforts that create and preserve affordable housing, address growth and change, build community assets, and promote a more climate-sustainable future for Colorado communities.
Our Strategies for Community Development
Economic Mobility for Families and Individuals
Communities thrive when residents have equitable access to good jobs, support for entrepreneurship, and opportunities to build and pass down family wealth. Gates is committed to addressing systemic economic inequities and building a more just, inclusive economy through targeted efforts to build wealth for low-income residents and communities of color across urban and rural Colorado.
As many mountain towns and cities along Colorado’s Front Range experience rapid growth and investment, the rising cost of living is pushing low- and moderate-income residents farther from the opportunities they need to attain a high quality of life. Too often, people of color, women, and low-income rural residents face great barriers to accessing capital. This limits home ownership, entrepreneurship, and generational wealth-building across many Colorado communities.
Gates Family Foundation is committed to addressing the root causes of economic inequality and inequitable community development. Our grants and resources in this focus area may support:
- Innovative approaches to local community wealth building such as community land trusts
- Community-based programs that build wealth for low- income and/or BIPOC residents and neighborhoods
- Loans and other investment tools that increase access to capital for historically marginalized entrepreneurs
- Ownership models that retain or transfer equity to workers, residents, and communities
- Financial and business coaching and services that increase participation in the economic sector by low-income and BIPOC residents
Equitable Community Assets
Equitable and resilient Colorado communities provide economic opportunities to residents while also supporting the infrastructure needed for individuals and families to thrive – such as accessible and affordable housing, access to parks and community spaces, access to healthy food, and multi-modal transportation options.
Gates Family Foundation invests in projects and organizations that strengthen neighborhoods and communities, and create on-the-ground improvements for residents. We support projects and activities that advance smart growth, sustainable development, and green building techniques. We also look for projects with authentic, resident-led community engagement, aimed at advancing neighborhood revitalization and stabilization in distressed areas. We seek out catalytic opportunities that leverage other public and private funding opportunities and demonstrate an exceptional opportunity for impact.
Our grants and resources in this focus area may support:
- Advocacy efforts that support policy changes in affordable housing, zoning, deed restrictions, or barriers to financing
- Seed funding/pre-development/planning grants to community groups working to advance on-the-ground solutions
- Innovative affordable housing solutions such as modular construction, accessory dwelling units, investments in land trust models, community-driven housing developments
- Community-centered climate strategies, such as efforts to improve access to multimodal transportation and safe streets
How We Support Community Development
Foundation staff work closely with a diverse group of community development partners to initiate and support projects that advance the strategic priorities and goals listed above. See our strategic partners in community development here. If you think your project or organization might be a fit for our Community Development program, we encourage you to contact a team member below.
Two times a year, we accept applications for our capital grants program. Community development projects that qualify include redevelopment of rural main streets, restoration of historically significant architecture, or other projects that contribute to community vitality. See a list of our recent capital grants for community development here.
We put the Foundation’s endowment dollars to work through mission-aligned investments in community development. Examples include acquisition of sites for affordable housing, below-market-rate loans to small businesses in low-income communities, and growth capital for Colorado companies that generate strong market returns alongside social and/or environmental benefits.
Community Development Team
Gates’ staff members bring an array of experiences and talents to work with our partners and communities.
Community Development News & Insights
Eight civic leaders from across Colorado have been selected to attend a three-week program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Learn More
The JFK School's Senior Executives in State and Local Government program is an intensive three-week summer program to build new skills, strategies and peer relationships for tackling the many complex challenges facing our state. Learn More
Gates Family Foundation set out to understand the impact of our past five years as a strategic funder working in Community Development. We knew we had to hear from you -- our partners, the people doing and supporting the work to build community. Learn More
Community Development Grantmaking
Roughly 12% of the Foundation’s annual grant making budget is allocated to addressing the strategic priorities for rural and urban community development that are listed above.
|Year||Grantee||Amount||Type||Strategic Priority||Area Served|
|2021||Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation||$90,000|
|2021||Avesta Capital LLC||$100,000|
|2021||Denver Public Market||$50,000|
|2021||Focus Points Family Resource Center||$20,000|
|2021||Montbello Organizing Committee||$200,000|
|2021||Urban Land Conservancy||$150,000|
|2021||First Southwest Community Fund||$500,000|
|2021||Community Resource Center||$25,000|
|2021||Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth||$1,000,000|
|2021||Avesta Capital LLC||$50,000|
|2021||First Southwest Community Fund||$5,000|
|2021||Fax Partnership (The)||$60,000|
|2021||Buff Venture Fund||$1,000,000|