The Latest NYC Funder Collaboration and What it Means for Low-Income Residents

It seems that high-profile, multi-funder collaborations are becoming the norm these days, rather than the exceptions to the rule. This is especially true in New York City, where the needs of low-income populations consistently outweigh the capacity of the nonprofit sector. Take, for example, the multi-donor collaboration that’s building a new $30 million education center in East Harlem or the diverse group of arts funders working to level the playing field for cultural groups in New York City.

The latest local funder collaboration is between five New York-focused funders: The Altman Foundation, the Heckscher Foundation for Children, SeaChange Capital Partners, the Thompson Family Foundation, and another private family foundation. The collective effort is known as the New York Pooled PRI Fund (NYPRI) and the goal is to make flexible, high-impact capital available to nonprofits working with low-income residents.

"By coming together, we should be more effective and efficient in sourcing, evaluating and managing a portfolio of program-related investments than we would be on our own, while retaining full discretion over participation in individual transactions,” said John Townsend, Head of the Finance Committee of the Altman Foundation.

The Altman Foundation maintains a strict focus on New York City and typically funds small to mid-sized nonprofits working in the fields of education, health, employment, housing, the elderly, and the arts.

Related - Altman Foundation: New York City Grants

SeaChange Capital Partners is a nonprofit merchant bank that manages funds that make grant, loans, and other types of investments. This company will be a participant in the fund and also manage it. According to SeaChange, opportunities that are not sensibly funded with grants or conventional market-rate loans typically fall into three areas: real estate, working capital, and expansion capital.

Another major player in this collaboration is the Heckscher Foundation for Children. This local grantmaker funds a variety of child-focused efforts in education, family services, child welfare, health, arts, and recreation.

Related - Read Heckscher Foundation for Children: New York City Grants

"NYPRI gives us the opportunity to partner with other leading foundations to further our goal of helping New York City-based nonprofit organizations improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers," said Alan Siegel, director of The Thompson Family Foundation.

The Thompson Family Foundation reported over $435 million in assets in 2013 and has historically given funding priority to historical preservation, health organizations, and human services causes. The fifth private funder has chosen to remain anonymous.

This new NYPRI collaboration will consider working with organizations in a wide variety of program areas, including health and human services, housing, education, youth development, community, economic development, and the arts.  Investments will be between $250,000 and $750,000, taking the form of secured and unsecured loans, loan guarantees, equity, and equity-like securities. Larger investments will be considered on an exceptional basis and/or alongside co-investors.

Clearly, there is strength in numbers, and when those numbers translate into dollar signs, it’s difficult to deny the potential of influential collaborations like these. Gone are the days when each foundation saw itself as an island, operating solely within the confines of the founders’ original intentions and fixating on a predetermined course. We generally like seeing funders play well with others to rally around common goals and maximize their impact. Here’s to hoping this collaborative trend doesn’t fade away anytime soon.

To initiate a request for funding or to learn more about NYPRI, you can reach out to John MacIntosh at jmacintosh@seachangecap.org or (212) 336-1512.