Impact Investing

A New Model for Meeting Today's Challenges

Every investment has an impact. The question is, will the impact be positive or negative, and will it complement or contradict your philanthropic goals?

Our local impact investments pursue opportunities that return both a financial and social gains – right here at home. In 2015, we began making low-interest loans. Funds are loaned to nonprofits and businesses solving social challenges and spurring economic growth on key issues in our community. Unlike traditional philanthropy which typically relies on grants, our impact investments are structured as flexible, cost-effective loans that are expected to be paid back, thus recycling the dollars to consistently fund new initiatives into the future.

Putting New Capital to Work

In 2018 our Community Investment Revolving Fund launched with an anonymous gift. The CIRF makes loans to projects that address critical social issues we face in Santa Cruz County – like housing affordability, sustainable agriculture and economic mobility for our county’s diverse workforce. To date, we have partnered with four organizations, deploying more than $5 million to create local impact and local returns.

Together with Opportunity Fund and El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, we've helped Latinx business owners access capital they need to expand jobs and grow their enterprises. With Landed, we’ve helped local teachers become homeowners with new access to downpayment assistance. With our lending partner California FarmLink we’re helping small farmers on the Central Coast strengthen our sustainable agriculture economy. We’re investing in affordable workforce housing with loans for new construction by both New Way Homes and Habitat for Humanity.

An Opportunity for Donors

If you are interested in using your fund’s investment capital for local social good, you can join us and other donors in making these loans.

“My family was going to have to leave the area. With the Foundation's help to buy our first home, I’m now living and teaching in my community, where my kids go to school. ”

- Christina Canavan, Soquel teacher and new homeowner who benefitted from our investment in Landed.

Our region offers many more attractive opportunities and we plan to grow our impact investing portfolio over time. If you are interested in making a gift to the Community Investment Revolving Fund from your donor-advised fund or another source, we’d love to discuss options with you.

“What the Foundation is doing is a beautiful thing, to have the opportunity for more people like me to continue their passion of owning their farm and making a difference in our community. My little organic farm has gone from an acre and a half to 130 acres."

- Javier Zamora, local berry grower and California FarmLink borrower

Written by

Susan True

In her role as Chief Executive Officer of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Susan continues her lifelong commitment to work that improves lives and strengthens communities. Contact her at 831.662.2010 or email