Opus Foundation® Advances its Mission with Impact Investing

Through the Opus Foundation, we're able to further elevate our stewardship, one of our core values. The Foundation is a catalyst for making our communities better places to live, work and raise families, and it continues one arm of our founder Gerry Rauenhorst's legacy of giving.

The Foundation operates from a healthy endowment and has awarded more than $47.7 million in grants since its inception in 2000. Now, the Foundation is embarking on a long-term initiative to expand the impact of its resources. On top of granting more than $3 million each year, the Foundation will support qualifying organizations with impact investments. 

Investing for Community Impact

Impact investments are made from the endowment with the intention of generating positive, measurable social impact alongside a financial return. These investments can take many forms and be made to either nonprofit or for-profit entities. To date, the Opus Foundation has made investments totaling $2 million. 

The benefits are multiple.

  • Impact investments offer new ways of deploying capital to both nonprofit and for-profit entities to help address disparities and create systemic change.
  • Recipients obtain more favorable interest rates than what is generally offered through traditional capital sources.
  • The Foundation receives a nominal return on investment to support future giving.
  • And our associates will have opportunities to contribute their expertise to this meaningful work.
The Foundation's impact investments align with four of its focus areas: community revitalization, early childhood education, youth development, and workforce development. 

Initial Investments in Community Revitalization 

Falling under Community Revitalization, affordable housing is a strong, broad fit for us. Across the country, affordable housing is undersupplied, and community leaders are trying to add more supply. Through the Opus Foundation, we can be part of the solution. The Foundation has made three initial impact investments to nonprofit organizations with affordable housing components.

  1. Mercy Housing, one of the nation's largest affordable housing organizations, received a $500,000 investment to support developing and preserving affordable housing units in Phoenix and Denver.
  2. IFF, an organization that creates opportunities for low-income communities and people with disabilities, received a $1 million investment for affordable community development projects in Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Kansas City.
  3. CommonBond Communities received $500,000 to support the acquisition of two existing affordable housing buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

CommonBond Communities: Addressing a Pressing Need

Currently, in the Twin Cities more than 374,000 workers are housing-cost burdened. That means more than 30% of their monthly income must go toward housing costs. A reflection of what is happening across the country, it presents an urgent need for affordable housing. 

Based in St. Paul, CommonBond Communities provides affordable housing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. CommonBond's mission is to build stable homes, strong futures and vibrant communities.

CommonBond owns or manages 7,700 affordable rental units in 57 cities. They provide housing for nearly 13,000 adults and children with household incomes averaging about $16,179 per year. To assist and encourage independent living, housing is located near public transportation, schools, businesses and retail. 

“Shelter is one of three basic human needs, along with food and clothing," said Derek Madsen, Executive Vice President of Resource Development at CommonBond. “For those experiencing poverty, access to affordable housing is the most fundamental indicator of long-term success. We are providing that and more." 

Residents have access to CommonBond's Advantage Services, which offers programs for stability and independence, education and advancement, health and wellness and community building and engagement. Examples include educational tutoring, eviction prevention, employment support and financial services support. 

“CommonBond is a comprehensive, full-suite approach to meeting the needs of the people we serve," said Madsen. “In addition to developing and managing the real estate, we deliver life-changing support programs through Advantage Services." 

Impact investments help fund CommonBond's mission. They are deposited into an internally-managed pool of funds for real estate development. 

“Being able to manage the pool of funds internally has distinct benefits," Madsen said. “It allows us to be flexible and act very quickly to secure properties, even in areas where demand is high." 

For example, the Opus Foundation impact investment was put to work quickly securing two buildings: Wilder Square, an 11-story, 130-unit residential tower in St. Paul's Thomas-Dale neighborhood; and Stonehouse Square, a 71-unit historic residence in Northeast Minneapolis.

“Both are very important preservation projects, as they were privately-held real estate assets that were already serving low-income folks in our community," said Madsen. “Because we had the impact investment from Opus, we were able to act quickly as a viable buyer and preserve more than 200 units of housing." 

Most of us understand the stress of moving. For families living in poverty, being forced to move can have significant adverse consequences. Now, residents at Wilder Square and Stonehouse Square can stay in their homes for years to come.

“Opus is rooted in family values and service to the community," said Madsen. “The organization has strong beliefs about how you show up as a person and how you show up as a business. It's become very clear to us that a deep philanthropic commitment is central to the Opus culture." 

Since 2016, the Opus Foundation has supported CommonBond with more than $614,000 in grants.


The Opus Foundation® is the corporate foundation for Opus, and is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work. The Opus Foundation is a separate entity from The Opus Group and is led by its own Board of Directors.