Overview - Gates Family Foundation
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Gates Family Foundation is one of Colorado’s oldest private foundations, having committed more than $450 million to philanthropic activities since 1946. In carrying out our mission to build a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable Colorado for all, we leverage all of the Foundation’s assets — dollars, people, relationships, credibility, access, convening capability, and physical space — to address challenges and opportunities that will have the greatest impact on the state’s people, resources, and communities.

In December 2021, Gates Family Foundation’s board of trustees approved a Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 — which reaffirmed and refined the Foundation’s philanthropic model set 10 years prior. The resulting plan both continues our long tradition of being a statewide community resource for capital investments, and also strengthens 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. Our philanthropic model is depicted below.

A graphic describing the Gates philanthropic model

Capital Grants

For decades, 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 37% of the Foundation’s annual grant making is allocated to the capital grants program, which accepts applications from qualified Colorado organizations and projects two 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 63% 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 equitable and inclusive communities. Our program officers work alongside grantees to foster innovation, share learning, and effect change.

Impact Investments

Beyond our grant distributions, since 2014 the Foundation has been leveraging its investment portfolio in mission-aligned ways. As of 2022 we have committed more than $64.7 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 — and mission investing, which aims to earn market-rate 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 2022, there are eight family funds distributing a total of about $12 million per year.

Grants and Investments Database

Each year, the Foundation distributes more than $9 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. You can search by keyword, strategic priority, geographic region, or grantee.