From the blog

Venn Foundation Donor Pledge of $1.3 million

Financial model for impact fund’s investments includes philanthropic and community support,
and progress at mountain has spurred additional philanthropy.

Saddleback Mountain, in collaboration with Venn Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of a new phase in its philanthropic campaign as well as a significant leadgift.  Inspired by the rapid progress on reopening Saddleback Mountain with its anticipated, new high-speed detachable quad, PARC Foundation has pledged $1.3 million to Venn Foundation, which has assumed a leadership role in raising charitable capital from supporting donors and deploying it into the Saddleback Mountain project.  

In this new phase of fundraising, which kicks off on Giving Tuesday (December 1st) just ahead of the mountain’s reopening on December 15th, Venn Foundation is taking the baton from Saddleback Mountain Foundation, which played a significant role in helping Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund, LP (Arctaris) acquire and upgrade the resort with a refundable grant of ~$2.5 million made possible with the generous support of many community members.  

Saddleback Mountain shut down in 2015 due to long-standing challenges with aging lifts and a lodge that lacked needed capacity. The ski area remained closed over the next five years until Arctaris purchased the mountain on January 31st of this year. Reopening a shuttered Western Maine ski area is challenging in the best of times. Doing so under a global pandemic has been all the more daunting. Arctaris has led the funding of this project with its own equity. The overall $38M investment plan includes a diverse set of funding sources, including state and federal grants and loans, bank financing, loan guarantees from the Finance Authority of Maine, New Markets Tax Credits, philanthropy and community support. 

Venn Foundation’s support of Saddleback Mountain will be in the form of a Program-Related Investment (PRI), a unique philanthropic tool used to provide below-market capital to projects that advance IRS-defined charitable purposes.  In this case, Venn’s PRI will be structured as an unsecured loan that is entirely forgiveable based on the achievement of certain milestones, including the opening of a new mid-mountain lodge at the top of the Rangeley lift as well as the running of the resort, ski school, and race program each year for the next six years.

Any and all philanthropic donors – individuals, businesses, foundations, donor-advised funds, and nonprofits – are invited to join in helping capitalize Venn Foundation’s PRI to Saddleback Mountain.  Donors can choose to open a donor-advised fund with Venn Foundation or to contribute directly to a house fund set up by Venn Foundation specifically for this project. Interested donors should reach out to Jeff Ochs, CEO of Venn Foundation, at jeff.ochs@vennfoundation.org.

“Driving catalytic, concessionary capital to impactful projects like Saddleback Mountain is exactly why Venn Foundation exists,” said Jeff Ochs, CEO of Venn Foundation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help the entire Saddleback community deploy charitable capital toward achieving this powerful vision.”

“This is about more than opening a mountain,” said Jonathan Tower, Managing Partner and co-founder of Arctaris Impact Fund,“This is about restoring 200-plus jobs to the community; it’s about the regional economic impact of Saddleback; and it’s about the health and wellness benefits of an operational mountain. Saddleback is part of the region’s proud identity and excitement about its reopening is palpable. As a major employer in the region, we have 
pledged to work with the community on a number of initiatives addressing issues that inhibit rural economic development.  We believe that Rangeley and the region can thrive and we are honoredto be a part of it all.”

Although Saddleback remained closed for five ski seasons, locals never gave up.

“Over the past 5 years, the Rangeley and Oquossoc communities have shown a remarkable resilience,” said Andy Shepard, General Manager at Saddleback. “Raising the towers on the new detachable quad, which brought hundreds of spectators from all over, inspired our donor base and also sent a clear and exciting message to the Saddleback family that even in the midst of the COVID crisis, the mountain is determined to open as scheduled on December 15.”

Arctaris has been investing around the country for eleven years, focusing on underserved communities who have lost their major employers. Their purchase of Saddleback creates a major opportunity for the region to get an important economic engine re-established. Being owned by an impact fund also gives the mountain a unique mission; a commitment to not only getting the mountain open, and with the required investment to overcome the challenges in past operating models, but to do so in a way that helps solve some of the challenges facing the region; affordable housing, affordable childcare, workforce development and increasing access to health and wellness care. Saddleback has also formed a task force to identify a path to provide year-round benefits to seasonal workers; which doesn’t exist anywhere in the country.


About Saddleback Mountain


Saddleback Mountain was established in 1960 and is known for its friendly, welcoming vibe, its exceptional hand-cut glades, long, snowy winters and a community of fun-loving people who are down to earth and up for anything. We are unique in the North American ski market in that we are owned by an Impact Fund, Arctaris Impact Fund, with a mission to invest in economically distressed communities across the country. Our mission is setting Saddleback on a path to financial sustainability, while also helping to solve for a number of community and economic challenges in western Maine, like affordable housing, quality, affordable daycare and workforce development. To learn more about the Mountain and our plans follow us on Facebook at Saddleback Maine and online at: www.saddlebackmaine.com.


About Arctaris Impact Investors


Arctaris Impact Investors, LLC is a Boston-based impact investment firm with experience spanning more than 11 years, 6 funds, and both debt and equity investments. The firm manages the Arctaris Opportunity Zone Fund (2019), the Arctaris Impact Fund (2018), and three earlier Arctaris funds which invest in growth-oriented operating businesses and community infrastructure projects located in underserved communities. Founded in 2009, Arctaris has partnered with the Kresge Foundation, Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter’s Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, and multiple other foundation, federal and state government agencies to invest in Opportunity Zones, inner cities and targeted rural communities throughout the U.S., with the aim of delivering above-market investment returns alongside positive social impact.  For more information visit www.arctaris.com.


About Venn Foundation


Venn Foundation is a nonprofit public charity on a mission to unleash the full power of Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to achieve charitable impact.  Our vision is to create a new category of flexible, below-market-rate investment capital that can be directed creatively to projects and organizations across all sectors that are helping advance charitable goals.  By opening a specialized donor-advised fund called a Venn Account, any individual or entity (including any business, private foundation, donor-advised fund, or public charity) can make and syndicate PRIs with their charitable donations.  Any financial returns from these investments go back to participating Venn Accounts for donors to recommend redeployment into new PRIs or grants. More: www.vennfoundation.org