Making Markets Work: Program-Related and Other Strategic Investments for Impact

May 25th, 2016

A discussion of program related investments (PRI) with philanthropy leaders

May 25, 2016

5:30 – 7:00 pm

This event has passed; enjoy the video:




Humanities Center, Leventhal Hall

424 Santa Teresa Street, Stanford University

Featuring experts from ImpactAlpha, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other major US foundations, and moderated by Paul Brest, Former Dean and Professor Emeritus, Stanford Law School and Faculty Co-Director, Stanford PACS.

Event Overview

The philanthropic sector has seen increasing interest in supplementing outright grants with investments designed to achieve social impact. Program Related Investments (PRI) are one such strategy. They have allowed US foundations to draw on the innovation and expertise of the private sector to advance their charitable missions. Join us for a conversation of practitioners and scholars to discuss the promise, limitations, and nuts and bolts of PRIs, informed by case studies of PRIs made by the Gates Foundation and other foundations participating in the event.


May 25


Andrew Farnum, Director, Program Related Investments, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Debra Schwartz, Managing Director, MacArthur Foundation

Susan Phinney Silver, Director of Mission Investing, David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Robynn Steffen, Senior Manager, Impact Investing, Omidyar Network

Julie Sunderland, Managing Member of the General Partner, Biomatics Capital and Former Director, Program Related Investments, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Moderated by:

David Bank, Chief Executive Officer and Editor, ImpactAlpha

Introduction by:

Paul Brest, Former Dean and Professor Emeritus (active), Stanford Law School, Faculty Co-director, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

The event is motivated by a study of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s PRIs by ImpactAlpha and Stanford University professor Paul Brest. Their work will appear in a supplement, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s summer issue.


Additional Reference Materials

Making Markets Work for the Poor
This special Stanford Social Innovation Review supplement examines how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation uses program-related investments—loans, equity stakes, and guarantees—to complement its traditional grant making, and includes a report, “Investing Impact with Program Related Investments,” by Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s Faculty Co-Director, Paul Brest.

Reflections on Making Markets Work for the Poor
Key themes and lessons from Making Markets Work for the Poor, a collaboration between the Gates Foundation, Paul Brest of Stanford Law school, and ImpactAlpha, Inc. and produced by the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This summary explores the catalytic role foundations can play in deploying highly risk-tolerant capital to the most challenging markets.

Mission Investments at the Packard Foundation
Since the Packard Foundation’s first PRI in 1980, its approach to mission investing has evolved dramatically. This report by Redstone Strategy Group documents key learning’s from some of the Foundation’s more innovative, complex deals – experiences that pushed the Foundation beyond the land and facilities PRI’s that typified its early mission investments.

$100 Million Impact Investment Collaboration to Benefit Chicago
The Chicago Model, as reported on Impact Alpha’s website
The Chicago Community Trust, MacArthur and Calvert Foundation have announced Benefit Chicago, a collaboration which draws on the experience and capabilities of a private foundation, a community foundation managing substantial donor advised fund assets, and a nonprofit financial institution. Benefit Chicago aims to mobilize $100 million in impact investments for nonprofits and social enterprises in Chicago.

Front-Stage and Backstage Convening:The Transition from Opposition to Mutualistic Coexistence in Organizational Philanthropy
Actors who support dissimilar institutional models can overcome conflict and move toward mutually beneficial coexistence. To see how, we studied the emergence of venture philanthropy, a rationalized approach to organizational philanthropy in Europe.

The MacArthur Foundation’s Approach, in writing

An interview with Debra Schwartz, Managing Director, Impact Investments, at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, conducted by Inside Philanthropy, which describes the MacArthur Foundation’s approach to Impact Investing and PRIs.

About the launch of the Housing Partnership Equity Trust, a PRI for affordable housing.

A resource on PRIs from The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania.