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What are PRIs?

Program-related investments (PRIs) are made by foundations to help further their charitable missions. Often structured as loans, PRIs can be considered equity investments, direct loans, loan guarantees, and nonrecoverable grants.

Foundations often use PRIs to fund requests outside their grantmaking guidelines, such as supplying capital for construction, land acquisition, equipment and furnishings. With program-related investments, a foundation can offer funds at below market and commercial loan rates. Once the principal is repaid by the grantee, the foundation must distribute those funds again, either through new grants or additional PRIs.

Health funders have used PRIs to help establish community health clinics and support other capital projects. The Rhode Island Foundation acquired the Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island through a PRI in order to strengthen health care delivery in the state. As part of its initiative, Practice Sights: State Primary Care Development Strategies, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided states with PRIs to help them create loan funds for capital projects to increase the availability of health care in underserved areas.

The Foundation Center's The PRI Directory: Charitable Loans and Other Program-Related Investments by Foundations, states that PRI distributions from all US foundations topped $266 million in 1999, up from $147 million in 1997. The directory includes 192 of the top PRI providers, as well as 800 individual records totaling over $564 million.

According to the Council on Foundations, PRIs represent the lowest proportion of asset holdings of any tested type of investment, accounting for only 0.2 percent of assets overall (based on survey of 619 foundations).

 

Resources

Grantmakers In Health, Guide to Impact Investing (Washington, DC: 2011).

Baxter, Christie I., Program-Related Investments: A Technical Manual for Foundations (Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, 1997). Program-related investments (PRIs) are hybrid grants/loans made by foundations to charities. They allow foundations to stretch their limited funds further. This book provides foundations with guidelines for evaluating PRIs, monitoring grant recipients, and tracking returned funds. Available for purchase on-line at http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/.

Brody, Francie, Kevin McQueen, Christa Velazquez, et al., “Current Practices in Program Related Investing: Should You Consider a PRI?” NFG Reports 11(4):1-10, Fall 2004.

Carlson, Neil. Program-Related Investing: Skills and Strategies for New PRI Funders, GrantCraft Series (New York, NY: The Ford Foundation, 2006).

Isaacs, Stephen L. and James R. Knickman, eds., “Inside the Foundation: Program-Related Investments,” To Improve Health and Health Care Volume V (Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2003).

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Using All Our Resources: The Packard Foundation’s Program-Related Investment History and Portfolio (Los Altos, CA: 2004).

 

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