Skip to main content Skip to accessibility controls

Our work

Mission-Aligned Investing

The Women’s Foundation’s endowment, which provides operating support for the Foundation, operates in service of our mission. Driving our economic impact through mission-aligned investing is key to transforming our state so that women and families have abundant pathways to build equity and create generational wealth.

Program Related Investments

Program Related Investments (PRIs) are one way we build community power by investing in the economic success of women, girls, and women entrepreneurs, while maximizing our endowment for greater community impact.  

For the Women’s Foundation, PRIs are below-market interest rate loans to CDFIs, who facilitate low-cost financial support and financial trainings to small private companies and nonprofits to strengthen economic opportunities for women and girls, with an emphasis on rural and Greater MN, Latinx, African, and immigrant communities.  

Since making our first PRI investment in 2011, $1 million in PRI investments have leveraged more than $10 million in lending capital to increase access to capital for women and family-owned businesses, including childcare providers, beauty shops, restaurants, nonprofits serving primarily women and girls, as well as access to affordable housing.

Our PRI Partners

African Development Center

Makes small business loans to African entrepreneurs from African communities with offices in Minneapolis, Rochester, Willmar, and St. Cloud. Partner since 2020.


Entrepreneur Fund

As a certified Women’s Business Center of the Small Business Administration with a focus on creating a robust and thriving workforce across the Arrowhead and Northern MN regions, 70 percent of its business owner clients are women. The Entrepreneur Fund invests in strategic planning for business owners and has implemented programming around building capacity of employers, including flexible work environments – to help retain the workforce in northern MN. Partner since 2011.


Latino Economic Development Center

Loans to Latinx small businesses owned by women or multigenerational families in East St. Paul and Metro, as well as Long Prairie, Willmar, Owatonna, Austin, St. Cloud, and Rochester. LEDC offices include a commercial kitchen so that clients who operate CSAs (community supported agriculture) have access to use their facilities. Partner since 2020. 


Northwest Minnesota Foundation

Loan funds are increasing child care providers in Northwest Minnesota, including childcare centers and licensure for home-based care, home loans for women, and bridge loans for nonprofits that work with women and girls. Partner since 2020. 


Propel Nonprofits

Provides capacity-building services and access to capital to support nonprofits in achieving their missions including the ability to link strategy, governance, and finance and to support nonprofits throughout their organizational life cycle. Partner since 2011.


In addition, the Women’s Foundation holds a grant-funded donor advised fund through the Venn Foundation.  

Program Related Investments

The Women’s Foundation has been a leader in its field, among the first community foundations in the nation to align its endowed investments with its mission. WFM’s $1 million investment in PRIs has leveraged over $10 million (1,000% return on investment).

  • March 2010: Board of Trustees approved $500,000 (3.3%) allocation to PRIs 
  • October 2010: First PRIs were made totaling $500,000
  • November 2012: Board of Trustees increased PRI allocation to 5% 
  • November 2017: Financial Leadership Committee voted to include Endowed Donor Advised Fund balances in PRI calculation, adding more investment to our collective impact 
  • January 2022: Board approved aligning 100% of invested assets with mission

“The support from the Women’s Foundation enables us to lift up and support women who dream of opening and operating their own businesses. Thus far, this funding has invested in women-owned restaurants, child care center, and in-home child care businesses.”

Bethany Wesley,
Northwest Minnesota Foundation 

Amplifying Our Impact

The Women’s Foundation is working to align all its investments with our philanthropic mission for gender and racial justice while achieving our goals for returns. We maximize our return by diversifying our investments in private equity, cash, equity, and fixed income. 

Are you an investor interested in applying an equity lens to your own portfolio? View the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Investing Toolkit to get started, and see more about gender lens investing from Tides Foundation via the link below.

Explore Ways to Give

Your support fuels the innovative community-based, community-led work happening across the state. Explore our funding opportunities.

Latest Updates in Impact