Today a new, interactive training tool is available free of charge to help the staff of private foundations explore the rules and potential impact of program-related investments, or PRIs. Like a grant, a PRI supports private foundations’ charitable and programmatic goals. Unlike a grant, a PRI is an investment that typically gets repaid. Private foundations can use PRIs to help organizations seize time-sensitive opportunities, attract capital to support a new sector, scale their efforts for maximum impact and stimulate private-sector innovations that align with foundation programmatic strategies.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation collaborated to create a series of free, online trainings on legal issues that private foundation staff must understand. Each of the animated training modules take users between 30 and 90 minutes to complete and feature “Maya,” an animated foundation program officer who guides participants through each training session.

“Interest in impact investing continues to grow. For foundations, PRIs are a great tool for spurring new innovations and attracting private capital to support the activities we care about,” said Susan Phinney Silver, PRI Program Manager at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “This course is a great resource to help program officers feel comfortable using PRIs to collaborate with new partners and bring the organizations they work with to a new level.”

The new PRI training module walks users through an investments overview and the requirements of private foundations that make PRIs using a variety of examples and scenarios. The training contains easy-to-follow topics for PRIs such as:

  • Legal Requirements
  • Due Diligence
  • Examples and documentation

The PRIs training – and all of the other legal training modules available in the Learn Foundation Law series – supplement existing in-person workshops and training that legal counsel at private foundations provide to staff. Other training topics include Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations, Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations and Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities.  All of these trainings, and a supplemental toolkit to promote them within private foundations, are available at:

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The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helps people build measurably better lives. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912–1996), cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914–1987). The Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the following program areas: Conservation and Science; Population and Reproductive Health; and Children, Families, and Communities. Foundation grantmaking includes support for a wide variety of activities including direct services, research and policy development, and public information and education.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.




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