Social Investors Forum

On Feb 14, 2014, the Community Foundation of Utah hosted the first Social Investors Forum, a venue for organizations to pitch innovative ideas for solving social problems. The program aims to inspire new, sustainable models of investment in causes and communities.

Since 2014, $384,500 has been awarded to social enterprises by the Forum's selection panel, Venture Philanthropy Utah, a group of investors with a shared commitment to innovation and sustainability in the nonprofit sector. In addition to investments of capital, selected organizations also receive guidance on investment and management strategy from members of Venture Philanthropy Utah focused on growth and sustainability.

How to Participate

Applying for the Social Investors Forum is a two-part process. First, organizations submit a one-page Call for Investments which will be screened by a selection committee. Second, finalists are chosen to present their idea at the Social Investors Forum.

Venture Philanthropy Utah will consider grants, loans, and other alternative financial investments for selected proposals. Proposals must meet the following criteria:

  • Utah-based: Must be operated in Utah, for the benefit of Utahns.
  • Emerging: We prefer emerging organizations and startups, or spin-off programs, or new initiatives in existing organizations committed to change.
  • Innovative: Must demonstrate a compelling new idea, a novel approach to solving a social problem.
  • Sustainable: Must include a commitment to a sustainable funding model.
  • Impact: Must describe the positive change or impact of your proposal.

The 2018 Social Investors Forum will be held on June 6th, 2018. The Call for Investments will open April 3, 2018 and close May 1, 2018. Applicants must be available for pitch training on May 29, 2018 at 4:00 PM.

Please check back on April 3, 2018 for the Social Investors Forum Application.

View Past Finalists & Proposals

September 2017 Finalists

  • Awardee: Volunteers of America, Utah - $27,500 matching grant for Maud's Cafe, a coffee shop that serves as a training program for homeless youth to gain self-sufficiency.
  • Youth Futures
  • Green Urban Lunchbox
  • Gilded

June 2016 Finalists

  • Awardee: Senior Charity Care Foundation - $50,000 loan for Project Thrive, a capacity building program that increases accessibility to affordable dental care for vulnerable Utah seniors.
  • Awardee: The Other Side Academy - Loan offered to operate a social enterprise food truck, which supports the organization and provides skill-building opportunities to participants.
  • Columbus Community Center
  • Playworks Utah
  • Refugee Ventures

See the compendium of responses to the June 2016 Call for Investments:pdfBatch 1 andpdfBatch 2

December 2015 Finalists

  • Awardee: East African Refugee Goat Project - $30,000 grant to fund herd transportation and fencing for its goat herd, generating income and funding scholarships for refugee youth.
  • AyudaFin
  • Cranium Café
  • The Green Urban Lunchbox
  • Wasatch Community Gardens

pdfSee the compendium of all 31 responses to the December 2015 Call for Investments.

June 2015 Finalists 

  • Awardee: Spy Hop Productions - $40,000 loan to acquire camera equipment for Phase 2 Productions.
  • Community Development Fund of Utah (Community Development Corporation of Utah)
  • Kentlands Initiative
  • Kidnected World 
  • Sorenson Unity Center 
  • Urban Yield

pdfSee the compendium of all 54 responses to the June 2015 Call for Investments.

November 2014 Finalists

  • Awardee: Spice Kitchen Incubator (International Rescue Committee) - $52,000 grant for their commercial kitchen and enterpreneur training program for refugees.
  • Awardee: Comunidades Unidas - $35,000 grant to create a low-cost, high-quality immigration and naturalization legal services program using an earned-income model.
  • Awardee: Greater Salt Lake Development Corporation - $100,000 grant for a loan loss reserve fund serving low income communities.
  • The Downtown Alliance’s Winter Market
  • The Gifted Music School
  • Senior Charity Care Foundation
  • Utah Clean Energy
  • Utahns Against Hunger

February 2014 Finalists

  • Awardee: Green Urban Lunchbox - $20,000 grant for Fruit Share, which gathers fruit from SLC fruit tree owners, redirecting fruit that would otherwise go to waste to local food banks.
  • Awardee: Salt Lake Bicycle Collective - $20,000 grant for Earn-A-Bike, a 6-week introductory bike mechanics course for youth.

pdfRead the 2014 Social Investors Forum impact report.

Past and Present Venture Philanthropy Utah Committee

  • Adam Slovik
  • Alex Lawrence
  • Beth Holbrook
  • Brent Thomson
  • Cree Zischke
  • Curtis Thornhill
  • Damon Kirchmeier
  • Devin Thorpe
  • Dr. James Evans
  • Dustin Haggett
  • Greg Warnock
  • Gretchen Anderson
  • Jeramy Lund
  • Jeremy Hanks
  • Jim Sorenson
  • John Richards
  • Julie Buchholz
  • Ken Krull
  • Lewis Hower
  • Martin Frey
  • Marty Tate
  • Mike Glauser
  • Patrick Mullen
  • Phil Hansen
  • Rob Wuebker
  • Sam Funk
  • Scott Huntsman
  • Scott Paul
  • Spencer Cook
  • Stephen Walter
  • Steve Grizzell
  • Trish Coughlin
  • Wei Chen
  • Zeke Dumke, IV