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Philanthropy 831 Blog


Philanthropy 831 Blog about the people and organizations invested in the future of Santa Cruz County.

Harnessing Economic Power of Philanthropy for Social Good
By / April 15, 2015

New Tool for Supporting Entrepreneurs and Local Economy

In March, we executed our first charitable investment loan to Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit providing Californians with microloans and microsavings accounts.

The loan provides capital for microloans to nonprofit and for-profit entrepreneurs in Santa Cruz County and is meant to develop new, local, small business opportunities.

We made a small grant to Opportunity Fund last year to support their operations within our county. 

At the same time, we were looking deeper into how we could put a portion of our endowment and other long-term assets to work for social good.

Opportunity Fund seemed a good place to test the waters. 

Their track record was impressive. Along with the fact that its loans, most under $12,000, create and sustain, on average, three new jobs.

What really got our attention, though, were the client stories about help they provided to get skate shops, gyms, cleaning services and other small businesses up and rolling.

H Skate
  June's Bug Gym
  A-1 Carpet Cleaning 
 Emily Huante, owner of H Skate    June Bug's Gym in Santa Cruz    A-1 Carpet Cleaning in Watsonville

Innovation through Philanthropy

I've been asked if this kind of financial investment is common practice in our field.

What I can tell you is that a wave of innovation is surging through the community foundation world. 

Those at the forefront include the Whatcom Community FoundationIncourage Community Foundation and The San Francisco Foundation

For us, this meant putting all the pieces in place for our board, so we could use our endowment and other long-term assets (plus local community knowledge) to make a first mission-based or impact investment, like the one just executed with Opportunity Fund.

It's about deploying all our resources to build stronger communities in thoughtful and strategic ways.

It's a New Day

Gone are the days when solutions were simple and the players few and well-known.  

It’s a new and complicated world and we all need to look for innovative ways to make this a better place. 

We may have found one more strategy that works. Now, we're looking forward to sharing the future stories about the microloans to be made in Santa Cruz County.

Lance Linares

Lance Linares is CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. You can subscribe to Lance's blog posts and follow him on Twitter.





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