- Who we are
- How We Work
- Strategic Plan
Promoting self-sufficiency, excellence and innovation in Colorado communities since 1946.
The Gates Family Foundation makes philanthropic investments statewide that contribute to the quality of life in Colorado, create opportunities for youth, and support stewardship of this extraordinary place, particularly the state’s natural inheritance.
As of the end of 2016, the Foundation had invested more than $250.7 million (excluding PRIs) across Colorado towards these ends. In carrying out its mission, the Foundation strives to maintain a long‐term perspective and focus on the challenges and opportunities that will have the greatest impact over time on the people, communities and resources of the state.
The legacy of the Gates family in Colorado is shaped by certain core values: innovation, citizenship, free enterprise, self-reliance, striving for excellence and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Gates Family Foundation will continue to embrace these values and reflect the following attributes:
- Strategic - concerned with impact and value added/leverage
- Forward looking - taking a long-term view
- Good partners - approachable, supportive, and respectful of partners and collaborators
- Data and information driven
- Flexible, adaptable
- Bipartisan and fair
- An agent for constructive change
Historically, the Gates Family Foundation was primarily a capital grant maker. More recently the Foundation has expanded its toolbox of funding options.
Beginning in 2012, the Foundation moved to a hybrid model that combines responsive grant making with more Foundation‐initiated activity focused on specific outcomes. The Foundation will use Program Related Investments (PRIs) and Mission-Related Investments within its investment portfolio as vehicles for increasing its near term impact. PRIs include various forms of low-interest loans and recyclable investments designed to provide less than market returns on capital. Mission-Related Portfolio Investments generally include market return investment vehicles. Significant resources remain committed to a responsive capital grant making program. However, the capital grant making program is more competitive.
A portion of the Foundation’s resources has been shifted to priority areas relevant to addressing the long‐term challenges described in the Initiatives section of this website. In these priority areas, the Foundation will initiate more and use a broader set of tools and strategies, working in conjunction with appropriate community partners. We invite you to explore the Foundation's website to learn more about these new funding areas.
In December of 2016, the Foundation’s board approved a new Strategic Plan.
The Foundation generally updates its strategic plan every five years. These updates provide an opportunity to revisit priority interests, assess circumstances and emerging trends statewide, review strategies and tactics, and consider the effectiveness of the Foundation’s grant making and other activities. This most recent update of the Strategic Plan also provided an opportunity to assess the impact of the significant changes made in the Foundation’s philanthropic model since 2011.
The Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 reaffirmed and refined the direction set in 2011. The trustees want the Foundation to be both a resource for capital investments by nonprofit and community organizations and an investor in and agent for progress and change in core areas that will impact the quality of life in Colorado for the long-term.
Four challenges will continue to drive the direction of a significant portion of the Foundation’s grant making, the manner in which the Foundation invests and deploys its capital, and the role the Foundation’s staff play as partners, conveners, and leaders:
1) The challenge of educating all of our children – Low-income children and children of color are not achieving at rates remotely comparable to their more affluent peers. A growing population of children faces limited prospects and dramatically reduced opportunities to participate in the economic and social life Colorado communities, let alone function as global citizens. Closing this achievement gap while raising the achievement bar for all children remains a core priority for the Foundation.
2) The challenge of providing responsible stewardship of the state’s natural resources – Colorado’s natural resources face challenges due to climate change, significant declines in forest health, increased potential for catastrophic wildfires, and significant impacts due to energy development and growth of the recreational economy. Population growth increases pressure on natural systems and drives the conversion of land and water to urban use.
3) The challenge of accommodating more people – Colorado’s population is anticipated to double within the next 40 years. The kinds of communities we create to accommodate the needs of this much larger population will have profound implications for a variety of aspects of life in urban and rural communities throughout the state.
4) The uncertain future of rural communities – Rural communities and rural culture are an essential part of the identity and character of Colorado. But the future facing rural communities is full of challenges. Many face unprecedented growth pressures, while others are struggling to survive.
To read more about the Foundation’s strategic direction, please read the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan.