Inherent Foundation

Our Mission

Inherent Foundation believes that economic opportunity as the cornerstone of a thriving community. The Foundation collaborates with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises in the education and workforce development to increase economic mobility for people living in poverty. The ultimate goal is to eradicate inter-generational poverty, fostering an environment where individuals not only earn family-sustaining wages but also flourish and contribute meaningfully to society. The Foundation aligns its work with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8, concentrating on sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth.

In pursuit of its mission, Inherent Foundation employs a multifaceted approach, providing strategic financing, collaborative guidance, and capacity-building assistance to its partners. Focused on scalable solutions, the Foundation supports organizations that can measure the economic impact of their initiatives and generate earned revenue, emphasizing a systems-change approach to address the complex challenges it aims to tackle.

How We Do It

Inherent Foundation uses both donations and program-related investments (PRIs), ranging in size from $25,000 to $1 million. The Foundation operates on three levels of funding: “Farm,” “Catalytic,” and “Sustaining,” tailoring its support to organizations at difference stages of development.

In addition to traditional grants and PRIs, the Foundation leverages mission-related investments (MRIs) to amplify its impact, ensuring that 100% of its assets are investment in mission-aligned companies. This comprehensive strategy allows the Foundation to extend its influence beyond traditional grant-making and utilize its entire balance sheet to support its mission.

Theory of Change

Inherent Foundation acknowledges poverty as a complex, systemic issue requiring a holistic philanthropic approach. The Foundation targets systemic barriers to economic opportunity, such as unaffordable childcare, unreliable transportation, and inadequate minimum wages. By supporting multiple organizations within and across its chosen issue areas, the Foundation seeks to remove these barriers comprehensively, fostering collaboration among its portfolio partners to maximize collective impact.

Whom We Fund

The Foundation prioritizes partnerships with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises led by individuals with lived experience of poverty. Emphasizing a start-up mentality, the Foundation supports organizations that exhibit innovation and leadership within their issue areas. It favors those developing earned revenue strategies, as reducing reliance on philanthropic income enhances long-term sustainability and innovation. By contracting with businesses, government entities, and other payers, the Foundation encourages effective scaling models that embed services within communities.

Inherent Foundation focuses on the following interconnected issue areas:

  • Early childhood education,
  • K-12 education,
  • Workforce development
  • Mental health, and
  • Climate action.

The Foundation has partners in the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India; its’ strategic approach involves deepening impact within a specific geography before expanding to others.


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Board of Directors

Tony Davis is the founder, CEO, and CIO of Inherent Group, an ESG-focused investment firm. Prior to Inherent Group, Tony was a co-founder and president of Anchorage Capital Group. He started his career at Goldman Sachs where he worked in the fixed income, currency and commodities division. Committed to philanthropy, Tony co-founded the predecessor to Inherent Foundation in 2009. He also sits on the boards of Achievement First and Ceres. Tony has a BS from Brigham Young University, an MBA from the Wharton School, and an MA from the Lauder Institute. Tony is the president of Inherent Foundation.

Suzy Davis co-founded the predecessor to Inherent Foundation and has served as a director since 2009. A producer for independent films and documentaries, she has worked in programming for American and international film festivals. Suzy also is a co-founder of Huma Productions and co-founder of the Brazil chapter of WIFT (Women in Film and Television). In addition, Suzy is on the advisory boards of the Siddhartha School Project in Ladakh, India, and The Family Center in New York City. Suzy has a BS in Pharmacy from Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul.

Michael Ellis is COO of Inherent Group. Prior to Inherent Group, he was executive vice president of advisory services at Cleantech Group, a consulting firm focused on sustainability. Michael has been a director of Inherent Foundation since 2016 and was previously a director of Arbor Rising. He has a BA in Cognitive Science from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Mike Pollack is a co-founder and CEO of SCA Charitable Foundation, a foundation that identifies and supports early stage social entrepreneurs. Previously, he was a co-founder and CIO of Destrier Capital Management, an investment firm. Until 2020, Mike also was an adjunct professor at the Stern School of Business at NYU, teaching courses on ethics and social entrepreneurship. Mike has been a board member of Inherent Foundation since 2016. He has a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.

Arlene Shaw is a managing director and treasury officer at Brightwood Capital Advisors, an investment firm. Prior to Brightwood, Arlene was a senior associate at Schulte Roth and Zabel where she focused on commercial and corporate finance. She joined the board of Inherent Foundation in 2020; she also is a board member of the NYC Water Board, appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York. Arlene has a BA from SUNY Albany and a JD from Tulane University Law School.

Foundation Staff

Mali Locke joined Inherent Foundation as managing director in December 2021. She brings close to two decades of experience working in philanthropy to this newly created role. Most recently, Mali was the Director of Development at the City Fund, a national education intermediary organization. Prior to City Fund, she was a director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy where she provided philanthropic advising services for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families. Mali has a BA in French Literature from Yale University and an MS in Organization Change Management from The New School University.