This year marks a decade since the founding of Gratitude Railroad. Over the past ten years, we have undergone a transformative journey.
In 2013, we began our work by seeding a community – a group of traditional investors committed to using capital to make a positive impact. We went on to build ways for investors to actively invest – first launching a Partners Group focused on early-stage direct company investing; and over the past three years, establishing and managing dedicated fund strategies. Our community has also grown and evolved to now include both traditional investors and deep impact investors. We have cumulatively invested in over 30 companies and 11 funds, catalyzed over $500M, engaged more than 100+ Partners and LPs, and convened thousands of individuals and organizations.
While we are proud of our work over the last decade, we are dismayed by the worsening climate crisis and the lack of progress in creating a more equitable and just society. The need to scale solutions at this critical time in history drives us to amplify our own efforts to move capital to companies that address systemic issues and build a different future. To this end, this past year we worked intensively to build on our learnings and position ourselves to achieve greater impact. Specifically, we:
Created a unique, ten-person governing Board of Stewards.
Our Stewards include Gratitude’s original founders, Howard Fischer and Eric Jacobsen, alongside a diverse and committed group of individuals who bring extensive expertise in investing, finance, business operations, and corporate governance. Our engaged Stewards serve as an extended part of our leadership, advising, and overseeing core aspects of our business. In addition, we have fine-tuned our investment committee and venture partner roles to ensure they add maximum value to our investments and to our portfolio companies and funds.
Grew our team and established a shared leadership model.
Our seven employees support our investment processes and community engagement. Rebekah Saul Butler joining Gratitude as Managing Partner builds on her experience as a Board member and existing close working relationship with the team. As Co-CEOs, she and Thomas Knowles combine decades of complementary experience in investments, impact, and operations, working collaboratively to drive a common vision for Gratitude’s growth.
Refined our investing strategy and processes.
Our new focus reflects our core learnings and views on the future of impact investing. We will continue to invest in early-stage companies and differentiated, emerging private funds that have a dual focus on financial opportunity and authentic impact – with renewed attention on scaling our investment platform. We’ve honed in on three core investment themes: Planetary Health [renewables and natural systems], Social Wellbeing [health, education, and wealth equity], and Intersectional Innovations [food systems and climate justice]. A strong commitment to diversity and equity will continue to underpin all of our work.
Redoubled our commitment to community.
The interplay of our community engagement and investing is our strategic differentiator and key to our investment rigor. We are also leaning into our community work as part of our overarching mission to inspire and educate investors about impact investing – and because we believe authentic relationships and collaboration are necessary to scale and grow the ecosystem and create the change we need.
Updated our website to better tell our story and invite collaboration.
In revising our visual identity, we considered three pillars: Inspire Action, Reflect Our Investment Experience, and Galvanize Community and Capital. We hope the bright colors and images of people and nature, with an added layer of imagination, represent the strength and creativity of the entrepreneurs and fund managers we support as well as the vibrancy of our community. Interested in reading more about the strategy behind our new visual identity and website? Look here.
Our most important message is here:
Or get more deeply involved. We have created new ways to engage in our work, with a goal of making it easy to learn and move more capital together. We have three primary pathways:
Investment Memberships: Partners Group and Research Members. Investment members are close collaborators that are actively deploying capital; want access to diligence and deals; and are committed to building the impact ecosystem.
Limited Partnerships: Investing in Gratitude’s Funds. We manage impact funds focused on early-stage companies as well as on emerging, underrepresented private equity fund managers. We have both a ventures and fund of fund strategy.
Community Memberships: Individuals and Institutions. Investors also have the option of joining our community to access our education, networking, and investor events and resources and to support our broader mission.