Kenneth King Foundation


From 2000-2010 less than 500 of the 76,000 private foundations in the U.S. have used one of the most unique tools in their toolbox: a program-related investment {PRI). PRl’s allow foundations to make a gift, grant, or loan to a for-profit entity or fund if that entity and gift further the charitable mission of the foundation. Of the small but growing list in Colorado, Kenneth King Foundation, a Denver-based private foundation, led by Janice Fritsch, joins the Colorado Health Foundation, Piton Foundation & Gary Community Investments, and the Colorado Trust is leading the way using PRls to leverage foundation resources.

For Kenneth King Foundation – focused on “Improving Lives with Access to Meaningful Employment, Entrepreneurism, Education and Basic Human Services -PRls can diversify the tools leveraged, and increase the funds available, to create good jobs in Colorado by encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Foundation found that a PRI was the ideal funding tool support the nonprofit Colorado Lending Source, which launched its Main Street “Character” Loans in 2012, to address the fact that many potential entrepreneurs – especially Millennials, women, and immigrants – cannot get a traditional loan due to their credit scores. Instead, Main Street loans are awarded based on character – a mix of stability, focus, and passion that you can see in a potential investee when you meet them.

It’s old-school banking, and it’s working with a low 3% default rate over 70 loans since the organization’s inception. Main Street Loans typically range from $5,000 to $50,000.
That’s why the Kenneth King Foundation was willing to take a chance by investing $100,000 to fuel three Main Street “Character”oans at an average of $30,000 to promising start-ups last year. Kenneth King President Janice Fritsch approached Colorado Lending Source after learning of its sponsorship of Trout Tank, Denver’s entrepreneurial pitch accelerator. The Foundation was seeking opportunities to prove its own impact investing model.

Loans generated by Kenneth King support went to 1) Seed Social & Creative: a Millennial to help launch a social media business; 2) Sweet Sweetz Ice Cream & Deserts: two sisters opening an ice cream shop between schools in their underserved neighborhood: and 3) CG Habitats: an outdoor clothing company whose credit score had suffered during the recession but whose products are selling on a national scale.

Executive Director Mike O’Donnell has spent years supporting small businesses and generating competition. But equally important, he says, is that the Main Street “Character” Loans identify people who are passionate about their work, happy in what they do – and that makes for a more vibrant community.
With much of the financial lending and education that Colorado Lending Source does already sustainable, he and his team are now looking for new funding for the next round of Main Street “Character” Loans.

Colorado Lending Source is a nonprofit dedicated to helping inspired people to create thriving businesses with funding, education, and resources. Learn more at

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