Upstart Co-Lab Launches New Funding Strategy

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation

May 17, 2024


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"Society can't thrive without culture, and Upstart Co-Lab's innovative approach to investing in cultural assets will foster flourishing and inclusive growth."
Roy Swan, Ford Foundation Director of Mission Investments

Upstart Co-Lab, a project of nonprofit Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has announced the first dedicated impact investment portfolio for the U.S. creative economy!

The Inclusive Creative Economy Strategy launches with nearly $15 million committed, including program-related investments from foundations, recoverable grants from donor-advised funds, and mission-related investments from endowed arts organizations—plus general operating grants to Upstart in lieu of management fees.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation invested $500,000 in seed funding in addition to awarding grant support for the management of the fund and related field-building work since 2020.

The U.S. creative economy was most recently valued at over $1 trillion by the National Endowment for the Arts—even before considering film, fashion, video games, beauty, food, and other key commercial creative industries. In its 2023 global “Art & Finance Report,” Deloitte notes the “lack of impact investment in art and culture as the sector is largely ignored by the investment community,” and credits Upstart Co-Lab as a leader working at the intersection of impact investing and the creative economy. Upstart’s pipeline of qualified investment opportunities currently requires $100 million in growth capital.

“Creativity and culture are not just about beauty and entertainment,” said Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab and the former senior deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Creative industries like fashion, food and film employ people, build wealth in communities, and share stories and traditions that foster critical connections. At Upstart, we believe impact investing in the creative economy will contribute to the kind of economic prosperity that democracy depends upon.”

The Inclusive Creative Economy Strategy is funded by 14 committed investors including The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Jess Jacobs Fund at the Amalgamated Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Michael Quattrone, the Skoll Foundation, the Snap Foundation, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, The Toledo Museum of Art, The Visions Fund at The Philadelphia Foundation founded by The Halloran Trust, and the Woodcock Foundation. 19 donors, including Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, have also provided philanthropic support for managing the strategy and related field-building work.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation

May 17, 2024
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