ECMC Foundation has forayed into private sector investments with the launch of its program-related investments (PRI) platform, the foundation announced.
The Los Angeles-based foundation—focused on advancing educational opportunities for underserved populations—has launched the Education Innovation Ventures (EIV) program "to tap into the creative power of the private sector to solve the problems of inequity in education," the foundation said.
EIV provides grants, loans, deposits or equity investments ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 to "cutting-edge" projects that improve "post-secondary education and career outcomes for traditionally underserved students," said Peter Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation, in an e-mail.
The foundation plans to make an aggregate of $3 million in investments through EIV to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in 2018.
"The decision to include PRIs in our set of funding tools was borne out of our desire to expand our channels in providing more of a solution to education and the skills gap, which is prevalent throughout the U.S.," Taylor said.
Jessica Haselton, director of grants management and strategic initiatives at the foundation, will lead the EIV team.
Haselton and her team are also partnering with the Employment Technology Fund (ETF), an impact investment fund, and the Minneapolis-based Venn Foundation. Both groups will help the foundation identify prospective PRIs and to monitor and track performance.
The ETF finances social enterprises helping to find employment for underemployed adults in the U.S. and was founded by the Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, according to a September statement announcing its launch.
"Well-known, major foundations like these, along with others like Gates, Lumina and Kresge, have been using PRI tools for years, but the vast majority of philanthropy doesn't," Haselton said. "Entering this space means we're joining a selective group of pioneer funders."
ECMC had a total of $637.4 million in investments as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to its most recent public filing.