Our Partnering Ethos

U.S. law dictates that 5 percent of a foundation’s capital be distributed annually in service of the foundation’s mission. We consider these grant distributions our Foundation’s “Program Grant Investments.” Our Foundation is equally committed to ensuring that the other 95 percent works to compliment or facilitate our Mission. We aim to do this through “Direct Impact Investments” and investments in corporations that function in socially and environmentally responsible ways, with a strong commitment to enhancing the social impact ecosystem.

Program grants

We invest in programs via traditional grants. Our grant investments aim to contribute to the empowerment of disadvantaged peoples or communities who may be enduring the local brunt of the global challenges facing humanity – perilous weather events, socioeconomic inequities, population growth, scarcity of resources like clean water and food, and conflict between haves and have-nots, extremists and mainstreams. We hope to contribute to programs with locals in the drivers’ seats.  We partner with those organizations whose processes, products or services enable communities and people to emerge from challenging predicaments by building upon local knowledges and resources. We are especially keen to invest in initiatives that have ripple effects extending far beyond the original investment.

We look for opportunities reflecting:

  • Small grant, big impact. We invest in projects where our contribution can make a meaningful impact on the success.  Because our grants are relatively small – usually ranging from $2,500 up to $25,000 – we tend toward small to medium-sized organizations where our level of funding makes a difference.
  • Efficiency. We appreciate productivity. The organizations we support tend to be unusually successful at managing overhead and administrative costs so that our donation reaches the people who need it.
  • Demonstrable measureable outcome.  We prefer projects with clear milestones and outcomes, measured with rigorous methods.

Note: We do not provide grants that are primarily for endowments, capital campaigns, ongoing operating expenses, existing deficits, or lobbying of any kind. We do not make grants to individuals or for-profit organizations.

Direct investments in enterprises for impact (impact investing)

Our direct investments aim to fund innovative entrepreneurial ventures whose core mission is positive social impact while still achieving financially competitive ROI’s. Committed to enacting some high-risk, long-term, ‘patient’ capital investments, our Foundation is particularly interested in investing in early stage initiatives which have the potential for massive, paradigm-shifting, ecosystems changing positive impact.

Community: Public Comments

The Foundation is invited to speak publicly from time to time about its philosophy of giving and related grant making activities. Click on the links below to read transcripts of the following presentations:

Remarks of Dr. Pamela Ryan at 2014 Presentation of Social Entrepreneur Award

Remarks of Foundation Chair Dr Pamela Ryan at the Social Entrepreneur Awards – June 5, 2013

Remarks of Silverton Foundation Chairman Dr. Pamela Ryan – Presenting the inaugural Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award – June 4, 2004

Remarks of Silverton Foundation Chairman Dr. Pamela Ryan – Accepting 2005 Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation Award at Association of Professional Fundraisers Philanthropy Day Celebration – January 24, 2006