Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gates Awards Grant To The Calvert Foundation

BETHESDA, Md. — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given a $1 million grant to the Calvert Foundation, a non-profit organization funding development projects in underserved communities nationwide.

This investment will increase the Calvert Foundation's net assets and its capacity to issue Community Investment Notes, which allow individual and institutional investors to invest in high social impact projects while earning a modest financial return. Grants such as this one can provide Calvert Foundation the ability to channel capital up to 20 times the value of the initial gift to community organizations.

The visibility of such grants also serves to attract additional private capital. Currently, Calvert Foundation has multiple ongoing initiatives that support community development in the U.S. and abroad. In the last year, Calvert Foundation has disbursed more than $120 million in loans to organizations helping people in poverty by promoting fair trade, developing micro-enterprise, providing affordable housing, developing community facilities, and funding efforts to rebuild and redevelop the Gulf Coast region as it recovers from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"We are grateful for this grant and the recognition of the growing importance of community investing," said Calvert Foundation Executive Director Shari Berenbach. "We hope that this support will encourage others to join us in empowering communities through affordable housing, micro-enterprise development, social enterprise and more."

Individuals can support Calvert Foundation efforts in a couple of ways.

The most popular way is through purchase of Calvert Community Investment Notes, which are available starting at $1,000 for terms from one to 10 years. Investors choose their rates of return, from zero to three percent, and have the option of reinvesting or donating their interest. Notes can be purchased directly from Calvert Foundation or indirectly through a financial advisor.

Supporters also can provide fully tax-deductible donations to Calvert Foundation. These gifts, like the one made by the Gates Foundation, are used to provide capital support, allowing Calvert Foundation to issue more Community Investment Notes for sale to the general public and to extend affordable loans to community organizations.

"This model has proven to be highly effective in finding, vetting and underwriting high-impact community development projects," said Hilary C. Pennington, director of U.S. Program Special Initiatives at the Gates Foundation. "We are hopeful that our investment will help attract additional private funds and provide greater resources for disadvantaged communities across the country."

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