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 Grantee Amount Type Strategic Priority Area Served
2018 Colorado Industrial Areas Foundation $30,250

Strategic Grant

Education

Adams

2018 Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Arapahoe

2018 New Legacy Charter High School $250,000

Capital Grant

Education

Arapahoe

2018 Rocky Mountain Preparatory School $5,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 RootED $4,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 Edgewater Collective $27,500

Strategic Grant

Education

Jefferson

2018 Jefferson County School District $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Jefferson

2018 Empower Schools, Inc. $21,519

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 America Succeeds $252,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 Colorado Succeeds $30,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Chaffee County

2018 Grassroots Foundation, Inc. $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Yuma

2018 Colorado League of Charter Schools $80,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Colorado Education Organizing Funder Collaborative (CEO) $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 Colorado Youth Congress $60,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Academy of Advanced Learning $50,000

Capital Grant

Education

Arapahoe

2018 RootED $300,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 Charter Board Partners $20,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 A+ Colorado $120,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Education Reform Now $150,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2017 Ricardo Flores Magon Academy $200,000

Capital Grant

Education

Denver

2017 Colorado Charter Facility Solutions $80,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2017 A+ Colorado $5,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2017 Valley Settlement Project $80,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Garfield

2017 Lake County School District R-1 $150,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Lake

2017 Bellwether Education Partners Inc. $105,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2017 Colorado Children’s Campaign $100,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2017 Chalkbeat $150,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2016 Colorado Public Radio/KCFR $50,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2015 Rocky Mountain Preparatory School $850,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2016 Roots Elementary School $160,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2014 Teach For America $1,050,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2016 Mesa County Valley School District #51 $298,299

Strategic Grant

Education

Mesa

2018 Keystone Center $100,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Montezuma

2018 Roaring Fork School District $10,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Garfield

2018 Colorado Future Farmers of America Foundation $30,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Civic Canopy $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Climb Higher Colorado $40,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2018 Atlas Preparatory School $35,000

Capital Grant

Education

El Paso

2018 National Black Child Development Institute $25,000

Strategic Grant

Education

Denver

2018 Rural Education Community Planning Initiative $75,000

Strategic Grant

Education

* Statewide

2015 Colorado Charter Facility Solutions $5,000,000

Program-Related Investment

Education

* Statewide

2014 AXL Academy $250,000

Program-Related Investment

Education

Arapahoe