Overview - Gates Family Foundation

Types of Support

The Gates Family Foundation is one of Colorado’s oldest private foundations, having committed more than $400 million to philanthropic activities since 1946. In carrying out our mission to advance long-term quality of life for all Coloradans, we leverage all of the Foundation’s assets — dollars, people, relationships, credibility, access, convening capability, and physical space — to address the challenges and opportunities that will have the greatest impact on the state’s people, resources, and communities.

In December 2016, the Gates Family Foundation’s board of trustees approved a Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 — which reaffirmed and refined the Foundation’s philanthropic model set five years prior. The trustees want the Foundation both to continue our long tradition of being a statewide community resource for capital investments, and also to strengthen our capacity to act as an agent for progress and change in the core areas that will impact the quality of life in Colorado for the long-term.

Capital Grants

For decades, the Gates Family Foundation has been known statewide as a capital grant maker. We know that land, buildings, and infrastructure can be critical assets for community organizations — and we strive to be responsive to the unique needs of each community. About 40% of the Foundation’s annual grant making is allocated to the capital grants program, which accepts applications from qualified Colorado organizations and projects three times each year.

Strategic Grants

Since 2012, the Foundation has committed more resources and staff capacity to working with strategic partners on longer-term, more complex issues facing our state. Currently 60% of our annual grant making supports the success of key partners who are working to strengthen public education, steward Colorado’s natural resources, and support vibrant and sustainable communities. Our program officers work alongside grantees to foster innovation, share learning, and effect change.

Impact Investments

In recent years, the Foundation has begun leveraging more of its investment portfolio in mission-aligned ways. Beyond our grant distributions, we have committed up to $11 million in active capital to Program-Related Investments — generally below-market, recyclable low-interest loans and loan guarantees that support activity in our program areas. We also actively seek to deploy more of our capital toward mission investing, which can earn targeted market returns, while advancing strategic priorities.

Gates Fellowship

Since 1980, more than 300 of Colorado’s civic leaders have attended a three-week summer program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government through a Gates Fellowship. Fellows experience an interactive classroom, analyze case studies of real issues to find solutions to complex problems, work alongside faculty and learn from each other. Applications are due each Spring.

Family Giving

In addition to advancing our core mission and strategic priorities, the Foundation provides Gates family members the opportunity to utilize our staff and infrastructure to support their own philanthropic interests. The assets of these family funds are managed and invested as part of the Foundation’s total portfolio. As of 2016, there are seven family funds distributing about $10 million per year.

Grants and Investments Database

Each year, the Foundation distributes more than $11 million in grants to support our mission, strategic priorities, and community needs. Our online database allows you to view details on grants and investments made since 2011, when we transitioned to our current philanthropic model. Search by keyword, strategic priority, geographic region, or grantee.