The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation seeks to dramatically improve the lives of people and the world around us through innovative strategies, systems changing approaches, and disrupting technologies. Our goal is to find social entrepreneurs with dynamic ideas and nurture them at the early stages with maximum leverage and total commitment.
Prospects for our portfolio of social enterprises come from a vast field of compelling ideas and dedicated leaders. We concentrate our selection on the capabilities of the founder/leader, the scalability of the model, and the potential impact of the organization on the world.
We have an open application process and accept applications year round. Borrowed from our venture capital legacy we find exceptional entrepreneurs, provide them with 3 years of unrestricted capital (totaling $300,000) and provide rigorous on-going support by joining their board of directors for the 3 years and partnering with the leader to help them to build capacity in their organization and scale their impact. For for-profit organizations, we typically make program-related investments with an initial investment of $150,000 and we’ll do a subsequent investment of another $150,000 depending on the achievement of certain organizational metrics and milestones.
- Organizations addressing a critical social or environmental issue as the focus of their work.
- Founders who intend to expand their impact significantly over time.
- Organizations operating in Africa, Europe, India, Latin America, and the United States.
- Independent nonprofit and impact first, mission-driven for-profit entities, including US 501(c)3 and its non-US equivalents, C corporations, B corporations, and hybrid organizations.
- Fiscally sponsored organizations in select cases where there is a plan to spin out (in our experience, independence creates stronger enabling conditions for growth).
- Post-pilot, pre-scale organizations. This typically means:
- Your program, product or service is already in the market or in the field.
- You have an early indication that your model is having its intended impact.
- Your organization is 3-5 years old (this is not a rule, but a guidepost).
- Organizations with one or more founders who are full-time or intend to be.
- We believe that full-time leadership from the organization’s founder(s) is critical to an early stage organization’s growth.
- We recognize that going full-time requires resources that you may still be putting together, and if that is the case we are happy to start a conversation with you in the meantime.
- We value diversity of people proximate to the problem at hand and a commitment to foster justice, equity, inclusion, and belonging practices.
- Evidence of focused alignment, systemic social change, data-based decision making.
- Leaders who are continually learning and iterating and welcome a deep working relationship with DRK for 3 years. Leaders who intimately understand the opportunity and the communities they serve. Leaders committed to advancing justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging for all.
- Organizations who are designed to realize their impact at scale.
Submit Applications | 6 Weeks
The Foundation has a rolling online application process throughout the year; there is no deadline to apply. After each application is received, it is carefully reviewed by a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation staff member. Based on our appraisal of the fit of the venture with our investment style, we select approximately 25% of applications to move to a first interview. Those not invited will receive an email around six weeks after submission to bring the process to a close.
First Interview: Exploratory Phase | 1-2 Months
Within a month or two, interviews are arranged via email. In the interview (phone or in-person), a member of the DRK team will talk with you about you, your idea and your plan for the social enterprise. There may be a few subsequent calls with other members of the DRK team.
Due Diligence + Follow-on Interviews | 1-2 Months
Approximately 25% of those interviewed will move on to the diligence phase. This is a more in-depth process in which the entrepreneur provides resources, materials and plans. The DRK team member deeply researches your idea, the marketplace, and the skills of your team. We talk to people in your network whom you have recommended and to people in our own network familiar with the issue you are addressing. At any point in this process, if there isn’t a fit, we will let you know to honor your time and effort. About 15% will continue through to the final diligence phase.
Final Diligence: Planning and Scheduling | 1-2 Months
Toward the end of our diligence, the entrepreneur and DRK work towards very clear goals for the new venture, including metrics and milestones that help articulate the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. These metrics will be used in our work with the organization throughout the 3-year funding term. These plans are a critical foundation for the launch and expansion of the venture. In addition, we ask you to meet several other members of our team.
Grant Awarded | 3-6 Months
DRK investments are distributed twice a year over a three-year term, totaling $300,000. For for-profit organizations, we typically make program-related investments with an initial investment of $150,000 and we’ll do a subsequent investment of another $150,000 depending on the achievement of certain organizational metrics and milestones. A senior member of the DRK team, most frequently the team member who led the diligence process, will join the board of the organization for the 3-year term to actively support the entrepreneur to build capacity in the social venture to scale and realize their goals.