What we invest in
Our Impact Investment Fund supports and grows community connectivity providers (CCPs) like municipal networks, community networks, and social enterprises, because they have proven most successful at connecting underserved communities to the internet they need.
Our investments are flexible.
We offer capital at the sizes and terms that set communities up for long-term success. We tailor investments to fit a project’s needs, not vice-versa.
We blend capital.
Community connectivity providers require access to a spectrum of capital. We combine a range of financing tools that, paired with both grants and traditional finance, provide a sustainable capital stack.
Our philanthropy and investments work together.
Funding network development, workforce training, and broadband master plans, our grants put communities on the path to connectivity. From there, our investments provide capital for the network infrastructure and related internet adoption programs, so a community can progress on its digital equity journey.
The Funding Gap
Not enough money is going to bridge digital divides.
New federal funding for broadband is expected to cover 30% of the need at best — and government grants don’t have a strong track record in reaching the least served communities. Meanwhile, incumbent operators will continue to invest in communities that offer the highest returns, again leaving out the least connected.
Community connectivity providers face a ‘missing middle’ problem.
The capital available is mostly in grants below $100k or investments above $30M. Most community internet projects sit between these bookends, in the $1-10 million range. We operate in this space.
Many funders lack the expertise to invest in CCPs.
Traditional investors rarely have the technical expertise to run due diligence on network design and owner/operator business models. And the underwriting methods typically used for small businesses often overestimate risk in CCPs and community network deployments.
Some projects will never work with market-rate capital. That’s OK.
From affordable housing to rural electrification, many critical goods aren’t supplied on a purely commercial basis. That’s why we structure capital based on sustainability, not investor returns.
We invest in three main categories
We fill this funding gap, bringing in-house expertise and flexible capital to fund a range of community internet projects. We fund digital equity holistically, which means investing in digital infrastructure and also the support solutions that make broadband accessible, affordable, and relevant — such as digital skills, device access, telehealth and financial literacy tools.
Projects we invest in demonstrate:
Sound network design
Networks that are thoughtful, well-planned, and technically robust. They connect unserved or underserved communities.
Meaningful community engagement
Projects that center community voices, often anchoring around community institutions. They consider digital equity factors like digital literacy, affordability, and uptake hesitancy.
Sustainable business models
Projects that demonstrate a believable path to financial sustainability. Implementation plans incorporate realistic expectations of take-rate and real-world deployment challenges.