Impact Investments - Gates Family Foundation

Impact Investments

At the Gates Family Foundation, we carefully manage our financial assets to preserve and grow the Foundation’s philanthropic capacity. Our founders designed the Foundation to be a perpetual resource that will serve the community for generations to come. We also realize the importance of using all the tools available to us for the greatest impact towards our mission.

In recent years, we have started to make mission-aligned investments — alongside of our grants — to expand our impact while also managing our endowment assets for perpetuity. As of 2018, the Gates Family Foundation has committed nearly $20 million total to impact investing. Our impact investments take three different forms:

Mission-Related Investments

Mission-related investments (MRIs) commit a portion of the Foundation’s endowment capital for mission-aligned purposes that meet a market-rate return expectation. So instead of selecting investments based on financial performance alone, we may choose to invest in an early-stage education technology venture fund, or a private equity fund that invests in land conservation. The idea behind MRIs is that foundations do not need to sacrifice financial returns to increase their social impact.

Program-Related Investments

Program-related investments (PRIs) are impact-first investments that generally are structured to achieve below-market rate returns.  Examples could include low-interest loans to funds that support affordable housing or increase economic opportunity for underserved communities. PRIs are eligible to be included in the Foundation’s qualifying distributions, but the Foundation has chosen to treat these as commitments above and beyond the required annual payout.

Socially Responsible Investments

The Foundation also makes socially responsible investments (SRIs) by being intentional about the vendors and partners we do business with for our daily operations. When our partners share our values of community service and commitment to Colorado, the money we spend with them is furthering our mission.

Impact Investments Team


Susan N. Dorsey

Senior Vice President - Finance, Administration & Impact Investing

If you are interested in learning more about both program-related and mission-related investments, the Mission Investors Exchange and Confluence Philanthropy are good resources. Both are associations of foundations and other philanthropic organizations that use PRIs and MRIs to accomplish their philanthropic goals. The associations provide a forum for networking, professional development, collaboration, and outreach to funders, including those new to the PRI, MRI, and social investing field.

Impact Investments

Year Entity Amount Type Strategic Priority Area Served
2021 Avesta Fund I $1,000,000

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development, Natural Resources

2021 Buff Venture Fund $1,000,000

Mission-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

2021 Colorado Community Media $750,000

Program-Related Investment

Informed Communities

* Statewide

2021 Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth $1,000,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Denver

2021 DreamSpring – FirstBank PPP Credit Facility $6,250,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

2021 Ember Infrastructure Management $4,000,000

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

* Statewide

2021 Encourage Capital – One State Investment Partners Fund $500,000

Mission-Related Investment

Natural Resources

* Statewide

2021 First Southwest Community Fund $500,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

* Statewide

2021 indieDwell $250,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Pueblo

2021 Montbello Organizing Committee $200,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Denver

2021 Palmer Land Conservancy $500,000

Program-Related Investment

Natural Resources

Pueblo

2021 Telluride Foundation $200,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Development

Montrose

2020 Colorado Enterprise Fund – FirstBank PPP Credit Facility $6,250,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

2020 Colorado Housing and Finance Authority – Energize Colorado Gap Fund $1,000,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

2020 Colorado Lending Source – Character Based Small Business Lending Fund $250,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

2020 Colorado Lending Source – FirstBank PPP Credit Facility $4,666,500

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

* Statewide

2020 First Southwest Community Fund $500,000

Program-Related Investment

COVID-19 Response

Alamosa

2020 Owl Ventures $3,000,000

Mission-Related Investment

Education

2020 Reach Capital III $3,000,000

Mission-Related Investment

Education

2020 The Colorado Sun $1,500,000

Program-Related Investment

Community Building

* Statewide