Vitalyst Unveils Program to Increase Funding Opportunities for Underserved Communities

Vitalyst Health Foundation announces the creation of a Program Related Investment initiative designed to invest in high-need communities with the goal of providing capital to organizations that support social returns on investment over traditional investing goals of financial return.

The Vitalyst Board of Trustees approved an investment reallocation that will re-direct a portion of the Foundation’s portfolio into social loan programs instead of the typical finance-based vehicles that include stock and bond funds. Vitalyst is seeking to invest directly into efforts that support Indigenous and People of Color communities, as well as rural small businesses.

“Our mission is to promote policies that improve health and altar systems that have adversely impacted diverse communities in Arizona,” said Vitalyst President and CEO Suzanne Pfister. “Our board wanted to make  direct investments in funds that are designed to create healthier and more vibrant local organizations.  We hope that other funders and business organizations will join us in these types of investments, and we are working with other groups to accelerate this type of giving.”

This will be a one-time allocation of funds by Vitalyst for the creation of a Program Related Investment Fund. The loans are for five years, and a simple interest rate of 1% is being charged.

Initial funding was approved for:

  • An investment of $250,000 with Local First Arizona’s micro-loan pram. The goal is to address the absence of local financial institutions in Greenlee, Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pinal and Yuma counties. To date, $285,000 in micro-loans have been deployed in increments of less than $25,000 and have increased the capacity of the communities to create jobs and improve the quality of life. Most of these loans will support small businesses and nonprofits.
  • An investment of $500,000 with Native Community Capital Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). CDFI’s are specialized lenders with a mission to provide fair, responsible financing to rural, urban, Native and other communities that mainstream financial institutions traditionally do not reach. They provide low-interest loans to individuals, organizations and businesses in under resourced communities along with financial education and business coaching.
  • An investment of $100,000 in the Unified Progress International (UPI) Loan Fund. UPI’s Education Loan Fund has raised capital to provide micro-loans primarily to African Americans. The loans are capped at $4,000 and typically split 50/50 between small businesses and individuals with an emphasis on making loans to those with limited access to banks. Thus far, UPI has financed loans in Connecticut, California and Arizona.
  • An investment of $250,000 in Foresight, an emerging African American focused CDFI in Arizona that provides capital to promote and support economic and community development through investment in minority-owned enterprises, housing, education and healthcare. Foresight intends to create a connected ecosystem through which minority business enterprises can explore common experiences, attain financial stability and ultimately promote business sustainability and success. The program includes mentoring, training and development, business relationship-building opportunities (generated by participation in the program) and expansion opportunities.

Vitalyst Health Foundation is on a mission to inform, connect and support efforts to improve the health of individuals and communities in Arizona.Over its history, the foundation has invested more than $134 million and established itself as a key thought leader, convener and catalyst of key initiatives – ranging from statewide health policy and systems change to housing collaboratives. More information is available at 

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