Opportunity Zones: Can Foundations Help Communities Get Ready?

With the passage of last year’s tax code overhaul, Congress created Opportunity Zones—areas in low-income census tracks designated by governors, where private equity investors can invest capital gains in new development ventures in exchange for tax forgiveness after 10 years. However, now that proposed regulations have been released, speculation remains as to whether Opportunity Zones will catalyze needed community infrastructure and economic development opportunities for the people who are residents and small business owners who live in these Zones.  

To help illustrate who might actually benefit, the Council hosted a webinar to explore what roles foundations can play in this unprecedented, market-driven investment opportunity. Special guests from the National Governors Association and the Brookings Institution will join the Council’s congressional tax expert to kick off the discussion on how foundations might be players on both the investment aspect of the Opportunity Zones and on the social impact side. A panel of regional philanthropy and Community Development Financial Institutions guests shared how they are thinking about this unique tax provision and what they are doing to get ready for alignment of philanthropic interests and education of their high capacity donors to co-invest with private equity investors.


  • Sally Rood, PhD, Sr. Policy Analyst for Economic Development, Center for Best Practices, National Governors Association
  • Timothy Blute, Director, NGA Future Office, National Governor’s Association
  • Aaron Klein, Fellow and Policy Director Center on Regulation and Markets, Brookings Institution
  • Don Snyder, Tax Associate, Federal Policy Group 
  • Kimberlee Cornett, Managing Director of Social Investment Practice, The Kresge Foundation
  • Adam Northup, Financial Strategist, LOCUS Impact Investing
  • Rachel Reilly, Director of Impact Investing, Enterprise Community Partners


  • Stephanie Powers, Vice Preseident, Policy & Partnerships, Council on Foundations