Foundations Supporting Food Projects Around the World

by Alexina Cather, MPH
By Lani Furbank

There are countless groundbreaking initiatives around the world that focus on crucial issues like sustainable farming techniques, equal food access, nutrition education, and food security. However, without financial help from charitable foundations, many of these projects would not be possible. We should all say thank you to these 18 foundations that fund food work.


Mission: “AgDevCo is a social impact investor and project developer operating exclusively in the agriculture sector in Africa. Our mission – to reduce poverty and improve food security – is underpinned by our belief that the best route out of poverty for the majority of Africa’s rural poor is the development of profitable agriculture with strong links to markets.”

Founded: “The idea behind AgDevCo conceptualised in 2008. AgDevCo incorporated as not-for-profit distribution organisation, registered in the UK, in 2009.”

Where they work: “Currently working in six African countries, and with plans to expand into a further four.”

What they fund: “We invest in socially-responsible businesses, operating across the supply chain, which have the potential to make a major positive social impact in their communities. In addition to direct investment, we provide on-the-ground technical support and specialist agricultural advice to management teams. We are raising agricultural productivity, increasing incomes, creating employment opportunities and, in doing so, helping to reduce food insecurity, hunger and under-nutrition in rural communities.”

Food-related projects:


  • Gee’s purchases poultry from hundreds of smallholders in the Northern Region of Ghana. AgDevCo’s investment will enable Gee’s to increase its processing capacity, meaning that birds will be purchased from c.1,500 small-scale farmers by 2019, with an estimated 25-50% increase in income for small-scale farmers.


  • Together with partner, Westfalia South Africa, AgDevCo’s support has helped Mrs. Vilanculos to be amongst the first Mozambican exporters to sell into the EU market. Earnings from litchi exports have been invested in irrigation, which she expects will double revenue this year and represents a first step towards transforming Mozambique into a fruit exporting country.


  • Since joining KPL’s programme Christine’s rice yield has quadrupled through improved farming practices and access to finance for better fertilizers. For the first time ever she is now able to earn a living from her crops. Christine has finished building her house and two of her children no longer work on the farm. They go to secondary school instead.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “$76.7 million committed so far, target of $500 million by 2020.”

 The AgroEcology Fund

Mission: “The AgroEcology Fund seeks to increase the volume, collaboration, and long-term effectiveness of research, advocacy, and movement-building for agroecological solutions, sustainable food systems, and policies which mitigate the negative effects of climate change.”

Founded: “Founded in 2011 by a consortium of 4 foundations including Christensen Fund, New Field Foundation, and Swift Foundation. In 2017, we are comprised of 18 foundations.”

Where they work: Globally.

What they fund: “Amplification of agroecological practices and policies, principally through support to grassroots organizations.”

Food-related projects:

“Movement building in West Africa

  • Spread application of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) – a drought resilience agroforestry technique – among peasant organizations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali
  • Suspended the passage of the pro-GMO, Plant Breeder’s Bill in Ghana
  • Formed a West Africa agroecology network accepted as a member of the continent-wide Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

Protecting farmer-managed seed stocks

  • Held continent-wide training workshops in Nicaragua and Zimbabwe for peasant organizations on threats posed by seed laws and treaties. Gathered and presented data for advocacy
  • Protected traditional seed systems by supporting La Via Campesina peasant agroecology schools in Latin America, Asia, North America, and Africa (4 new schools in Mali, Niger, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe)

Global learning exchanges

  • Organized learning exchanges among sub-grantees to share agroecology and advocacy practices and lessons in Latin America, Africa, and Asia

Communications for policy change

  • Published and distributed media (articles, blogs, videos) on agroecological practices, peasant seed, success stories, and agroecology as a climate change solution

Action for food system transformation

  • Formed part of strategy to move Bhutan towards an organic agricultural system”

How to apply for funding: “Funding by invitation only.”

Funding requirements: “Organizations should be members of collaborations or coalitions.”

Amount in fund: “Approximately $1 million per funding cycle. We have granted over $3 million thus far.”

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Mission: “Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”

Founded: 1997

Where they work: “We work with thousands of partners in Africa, India, Europe, South America, and here in the United States. The foundation supports grantees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, we support work in more than 100 countries.”

What they fund: “We work with partner organizations worldwide to tackle critical problems in four program areas. Our Global Development Division works to help the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Our Global Health Division aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries. Our United States Division works to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education and support vulnerable children and families in Washington State. And our Global Policy & Advocacy Division seeks to build strategic relationships and promote policies that will help advance our work. Our approach to grantmaking in all four areas emphasizes collaboration, innovation, risk-taking, and, most importantly, results.”

Food-related projects: “Agricultural Development is one of the largest initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To date, we have committed more than $2 billion to agricultural development efforts, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Our goal: to reduce hunger and poverty for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way. More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “Foundation Trust Endowment: $39.6 billion.”

The Conservation, Food and Health Foundation

Mission: “The Conservation, Food and Health Foundation seeks to promote the conservation of natural resources, improve the production and distribution of food, and improve health in the developing world. The foundation helps build capacity within developing countries in its three areas of interest with grants that support research or projects that solve specific problems.”

Founded: “Incorporated in 1985.”

Where they work: “The foundation’s geographic focus is the developing world. It prefers to support organizations located in developing countries or to developed country organizations whose activities are of direct and immediate benefit to developing countries. The foundation does not consider the states of the former Soviet Union or former Eastern Bloc countries as within its geographic focus.”

What they fund: “The foundation supports special projects and programs of nongovernmental organizations in three primary fields of interest: conservation, food, and health. The foundation supports projects that demonstrate strong local leadership, promote professional development in the conservation, agricultural, and health sciences; develop the capacity of local organizations; and address a particular problem in the field. It prefers to support projects addressing under-funded issues and geographic areas.”

Food-related projects:

“American University of Beirut: Beirut, Lebanon

  • $28,000 to develop a system of fish farming and vegetable production in greenhouses in Lebanon.

ECHO: North Fort Meyers, FL

  • $22,000 to work with farmers to test which green manure cover crops work best for particular crops in Chang Mai, Thailand.

EcoLogic Development Fund: Cambridge, MA

  • $25,000 to increase the kinds of agricultural crops and nitrogen-fixing trees that ally cropping farmers use in the Rio Sarstun region of Guatemala. In collaboration with AproSarstún.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: N/A

Farm Aid

Mission: “Farm Aid’s mission is to keep family farmers on the land in order to guarantee an agricultural system that ensures farmers a fair living, strengthens communities, protects natural resources, and delivers good food for all.”

Founded: “Farm Aid was founded in 1985 by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young.”

Where they work: The United States.

What they fund: “Farm Aid’s grantmaking is focused on work that enhances the viability of family farm agriculture in the United States. We issue grants to qualifying nonprofit organizations that serve family farmers in one of three program areas:

GROWING THE GOOD FOOD MOVEMENT: This program area funds organizations that build local and regional food systems, connecting family farmers directly with consumers, and/or creating and expanding other markets for family farm products.

HELPING FARMERS THRIVE: This program area funds organizations that provide family farmers with support and resources to start farming, transition to more sustainable farming practices, and/or continue farming in the face of financial crises and natural disasters.

TAKING ACTION TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM: This program area funds organizations that promote fair farm policies and organize grassroots campaigns to defend and bolster family farm agriculture on a local, regional, or national level.

We fund nonprofits all over the country that address these program areas through a variety of approaches.”

Food-related projects:

Dreaming Out Loud, Washington, DC: $7,500 to support the expansion of their food justice and sovereignty work in the District of Columbia. Specifically, the grant will support the development of a two-acre urban farm that will create new opportunities to hire and train local residents interested in agriculture.

Angelic Organics Learning Center, Caledonia, IL: $5,000 to support the Farmer Training Initiative, which will provide over 250 beginning farmers in Illinois and Wisconsin with farmer-led business planning, field days, and advanced support services.

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Glendale Springs, NC: $5,000 to organize farmers and rural residents in North Carolina and Virginia against natural gas pipelines and to develop local government resolutions.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “Since our first concert in 1985, we’ve granted more than $22 million to over 300 organizations nationwide.”

The Feed Foundation

Mission: “The FEED Foundation is a 501c3 organization dedicated to raising funds to support programs and organizations that are effectively working to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world.”

Founded: N/A

Where they work: N/A

What they fund: “In partnership with FEED Projects, the FEED Foundation allocates funds to national and global giving partners who provide meals for children and families facing food insecurity.”

Food-related projects:

  • “FEED Supper is our way for people of all walks to come together and engage in the issue of hunger. Each fall, we call upon our supporters to host their own Suppers and encourage each guest to make a donation to FEED that provides meals to children and families in need. The goal: to raise 2 million meals collectively by October 16th (World Food Day).
  • RUN 10 FEED 10 started in 2012 with the hope of raising money and awareness for the persistent problem of hunger in America. The concept was a simple one: RUN a 10K, and FEED 10 people in your hometown. To date, you’ve helped us raise enough funds to help provide over 3.75 million meals to Americans in need.”

How to apply for funding: N/A

Funding requirements: N/A

Amount in fund: N/A

Food and Farm Communications Fund

Mission: To expand the good food movement’s communications capacity.

Founded: N/A

Where they work: The United States

What they fund: “The FFCF established this website as an opportunity to introduce those grantseekers working in the Sustainable Food and Agriculture field to this new funding initiative.”

Food-related projects:

“The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance — $50,000: The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance’s mission is to enhance and maintain healthy marine ecosystems by organizing a decentralized network of community-based fishermen, fishworkers and allies. They are a fishermen-led organization that promotes fleet diversity and gives a voice to independent, community based fishermen. They work with community based fishermen on market and policy alternatives that protect and maintain marine biodiversity while ensuring healthy local fishing economies that feed healthy food systems. They advocate for policies and practices that will sustain local fisheries. Their programs and events facilitate direct connections between consumers and fishermen. They work with fishery managers to make the case for supporting small and medium scale, community-based fishers through policy decisions and build coalitions with like-minded fishing communities.

Civil Eats — $50,000: Civil Eats is a daily news and commentary source for critical thought about the American food system. They have provided an outlet for those working on the front lines to change the food system. Their unique model — a “community supported blog” — has served as the voice of the food movement and provided a platform and space to grow dialogue on important food movement issues with over 100,000 page views per month. With the help of FFCF, they will produce between 40-50 feature stories on the businesses, organizations, and individuals working to change the food system, with full photography and/or video. They will then house them in a new, easy-to-access section of the site, which would serve as an archive of the food movement. Funding will support the writing, editing, photography, and back-end Web support of these stories so that they can continue to break new ground and offer fresh features and multi-media of the latest food systems news.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: N/A

Global Greengrants

Mission: “To mobilize resources for environmental sustainability and social justice.”

Founded: “Global Greengrants began in 1993 in Boulder, Colorado.”

Where they work: “167 countries around the world.”

What they fund: “Global Greengrants Fund gives voice to people whose lives are most impacted by environmental harm and social injustice. Every day, our global network of people on the frontlines and donors comes together to support communities to protect their ways of life and our planet. Because when local people have a say in the health of their food, water, and resources, they are forces for change.”

Food-related projects:

How to apply for funding: N/A

Funding requirements: Vary by country

Amount in fund: N/A

The Harry Chapin Foundation

Mission: “The mission of the Harry Chapin Foundation is to support organizations that have demonstrated their ability to dramatically improve the lives and livelihood of people by helping them to become self-sufficient.”

Founded: “The Harry Chapin Memorial Fund was created in 1981 with help from Harry’s former manager Ken Kragen and Kenny Rogers who donated $150,000 from a benefit concert. Harry’s widow Sandy Chapin has led the organization from the beginning. While the name was changed to the Harry Chapin Foundation, its mission has stayed the same – to help make a positive difference in communities around the country.”

Where they work: The United States

What they fund: “We will fund only 501(c)(3) not for profit programs that operate in the United States that fall within the areas of: Community Education Programs, Arts-In-Education Programs, and Agricultural and Environmental Programs.”

Food-related projects: “Food and agriculture programs that support the preservation of individually owned farms; support for citizen organizations that promote equitable food production and distribution. In this category there have been a total of 157 grants made with award amounts totaling $955,136.00.

Hartford Food System

This organization is a multiple award winner of grants 1985, 1990, for $5,000, 1992 for $1, 250, 1998 for $1,000, 1999 and 2000 for $3,000. Until recently Hartford had no large supermarket, only small urban retailers. Through the work of the HFS one retailer has now opened. However, this supermarket is very close to the suburban line and not easily accessible to many residents. Low income residents have little to no access to fresh produce. A grant of $3000 was made in 2009 to support the Grow Hartford Youth Leadership Program. This program hires and trains at risk youth to work on the HFS farm that provides CSA’s and provides fresh locally grown produce for area families and social service agencies.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “As of September of 2012 the foundation has distributed over $1.7 million to 413 organizations. Of these 219 grants were made to organizations in New York state and the remaining 180 in other states.”

The Innocent Foundation

Mission: “Helping the world’s hungry.”

Founded: “Founded in 2004 by Innocent Drinks Ltd.”

Where they work: “UK and developing world.”

What they fund: “Food poverty alleviation in the UK, small scale sustainable agriculture pilots, emergency food relief, and breakthrough research in the developing world.”

Food-related projects:

The Trussel Trust Holiday Meals Project

Sustainable agriculture training with Ace Africa

More here.

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: “UK registered charities only. See website for more detailed criteria.”

Amount in fund: “£1 million per year.”

Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Mission: “We envision a socially just and environmentally sustainable society in which all people are able to gain the knowledge and build the power they need to exercise their rights and participate fully in the economic, social and political decisions that affect their lives and communities.”

Founded: “The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation was established in 1947 by Charles F. Noyes as a memorial to his wife.”

Where they work: “We make grants throughout the United States in both rural and urban communities. Grants under the New York City funding priority are made for citywide activities and to organizations working in any of NYC’s five boroughs.”

What they fund: “We support democratic and inclusive grassroots organizations and movements of affected communities that:

  • work statewide or within a state, or on tribal lands;
  • engage in community organizing and advocacy; and
  • connect local concerns with broader, systemic issues.

We also support regional and national collaborations and networks, and on occasion, technical assistance groups that help to build the capacity of grassroots organizations. Additionally, we look for opportunities to support cross-issue and cross-movement work with the goal of building a broad, progressive social justice movement. And we consider requests that address issues in both rural and urban communities.”

Food-related projects:

“Food Chain Workers Alliance, $25,000, Los Angeles, CA

  • General support for an alliance of labor groups whose members work along various parts of the food chain in order to bring about a sustainable food system that includes fair labor practices.

NCABL Land Loss Prevention Project, $20,000, Durham, NC

  • General support to provide legal assistance to limited-resource farmers and food system entrepreneurs to advance environmental justice, and sustainable food and environment policy in North Carolina and the Southeast.

Hunger Action Network of New York State, $20,000, Albany, NY

  • Program support to promote sustainable food policy at state and local levels in New York, coordinate efforts around federal food and farm policy, and address the nutritional needs of low-income state residents.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “Net income available for grants in 2013: $8.2 million.”

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Mission: “The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation engages Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society.”

Founded: “Established in 1937 by John Wilson McConnell, The J.W. McConnell Foundation grew out of Mr. McConnell’s deep commitment to the public good and his lifelong involvement with charitable work in Canada.”

Where they work: Canada

What they fund: “We work collaboratively with community organizations, government, educational institutions and the private sector to support promising approaches to some of Canada’s most complex challenges. Our goals are to help influence public policy and to help shift the flow of required resources. Our strategy includes a suite of complementary interventions, including foundation initiatives, grants, impact investments, convening leaders and activists, storytelling, and strengthening the capacity of organizations. Everything we do is about engaging people directly in ongoing learning so that, collectively, we can imagine a better Canada and work to build it. We favour innovative philanthropy and risk-taking. We seek not simply to solve problems, but to transform systems.”

Food-related projects: “The Foundation’s Sustainable Food Systems initiative aims at systemic change to increase local and regional sustainable food production capacity while ensuring that healthy food is accessible to all. The initiative is comprised of:

  • A select number of national grants which work across the food system to deepen or disseminate work which has been successful at a more local level. (More information on national grants here.)
  • Three programs:
    • Institutional Food program: supports the work of hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities, schools and other institutions that want to serve more healthy, local and sustainable food.
    • Regional Value Chain program: supports organizations to assess their regional food systems and then develop and implement market-based interventions to address gaps identified.
    • Banking on Change program: supports the transformational work of food banks across Canada by targeting food security at the community level, with a focus on the role of food banks in moving beyond emergency food aid.
  • A number of strategic components to heighten the impact of the initiative including impact investing and capacity building, through learning engagements such as a Food Business Boot Camp and a partnership with Food Secure Canada.

One example is our food and healthcare work: Nourish, which is just launching. We also are part of the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture and Community Collaborative and we are supporting a number of other projects including food social enterprise.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: N/A

Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

Mission: “The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. The Illumination Fund plays an engaged and active role in supporting organizations and leaders who have a positive impact and lasting effect on well-being and community life. While the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund does not limit grant making to specific issues or organizations, it consistently champions innovative approaches to education, the arts, healthy food and service in order to illuminate strategies that transform our urban landscape.”

Founded: “Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch.”

Where they work: New York City

What they fund: “Rather than limit its grantmaking to specific issues or organizations, the foundation supports programs that increase access and opportunity across a wide spectrum of fields. Its program areas are means to achieve impact rather than isolated categories, and

many programs cross over traditional boundaries. The Illumination Fund’s current grantmaking is focused on the following general areas:

  • Healthy Food: There are great challenges to accessing healthy foods in many of New York’s neighborhoods, and vast disparities in diet-related diseases. The Illumination
  • Fund supports novel strategies to expand availability of healthy foods and promote healthy choices through systemic changes and partnerships with deep-reaching community based institutions.
  • New York City Community: The Illumination Fund is committed to supporting major cultural institutions and community organizations to increase cultural access and opportunity for New Yorkers. The arts and education play a critical role in forming a quality base for enrichment in New York City through their unique power to inspire minds, stimulate creativity, enhance learning and build quality of life.
  • Service: Organizations that mobilize individuals toward a shared vision of social change enhance society and strengthen communities. The Illumination Fund supports initiatives that activate the spirit of service and expand the capacity of nonprofits to recruit, manage and retain skilled volunteers.
  • Jewish Life: The Illumination Fund supports a limited number of projects in the U.S. and in Israel that foster community engagement, constructive expression, cultural exploration and communication.”

Food-related projects: “Its food initiatives include components that advance health, economic development, educational, and cultural goals.

Wholesome Wave, Illumination Grant: With Wholesome Wave and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Illumination Fund launched the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) pilot in NYC, a progressive program enabling doctors to write prescriptions for fruits and vegetables for at-risk patients redeemable at local farmers markets.

Wellness in the Schools, Good Neighbor Grant: Wellness in the Schools operates in public school cafeterias and classrooms to promote healthy eating through Cook for Kids, a program that trains culinary school graduates to partner with cafeteria staff to prepare daily meals and educate families about the importance of eating healthy food.

LISC New York City, Illumination Grant: LISC New York City partners with neighborhood-based community development corporations to integrate access to healthy and affordable food into every aspect of the CDC’s comprehensive community development work, conducting resident outreach, hosting nutrition education and cooking classes, creating new or improved healthy food outlets, and generating food-sector jobs.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: N/A

Funding requirements: N/A

Amount in fund: N/A

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Mission: “Invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges.”

Founded: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) was established by the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) to find innovative solutions to issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, and communities. One of four agencies that make up USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, the agency is structured to direct federal funding effectively to programs that address key national and global challenges.”

Where they work: “NIFA is located in Washington, D.C.”

What they fund: “NIFA supports research, education, and extension activities through competitive grants, capacity grants, and non-competitive grants. Projects are funded through a broad range of categories, such as childhood obesity prevention, sustainable farming practices, pest management, improving farming technologies, bioenergy development, youth leadership programs, and training the next generation of agricultural science professionals.”

Food-related projects:

  • “A University of California-Davis-led Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (T-CAP) is introducing changes into durum wheat genes that can increase resistant starch content by more than 750%.  Resistant starch may help in obesity-related conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.It may take 5-10 years of research and development to bring new resistant starch products to market.
  • Aflatoxin is a corn disease that costs the United States alone $225 million per year in lost yield. NIFA-funded researchers identified corn genes that work well under both dry and well-watered conditions. This may lead to the development of corn that is better adapted to the South, that can result in higher yields, more hardy crops, and contributing to a safer and more secure food supply throughout the country.
  • NIFA-supported researchers are working to restore the American chestnut – which was ravaged by a 50-year blight and functionally extinct, by using transgenic breeding.”

How to apply for funding: “NIFA publishes requests for applications (RFAs) to solicit grant proposals. RFAs provide instructions on how to apply as well as information about program purpose, eligibility, administrative and regulatory rules, and evaluation criteria. Information on the different types of funding available and RFAs can be found here.”

Funding requirements: “NIFA issues dozens of RFAs each year, and the individual funding requirements for each RFA can be found here.”

Amount in fund: “In 2015, NIFA’s total discretionary and mandatory funding was $1.4 billion. More information can be found at the annual report and through RFA announcements on the NIFA website.”

New York State Health Foundation

Mission: “The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. Today, NYSHealth concentrates its work in two strategic priority areas: building healthy communities and empowering health care consumers. The foundation is committed to making grants, informing health policy and practice, spreading effective programs to improve the health care system and the health of New Yorkers, serving as a neutral convener of health leaders across the state, and providing technical assistance to its grantees and partners.”

Founded: “The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is a private, independent foundation established in 2006 when Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield converted from nonprofit to for-profit ownership. A New York state statute allocated 5 percent of the market value to create the foundation. When Empire’s conversion was announced, New York’s health community recognized the opportunity for a strategic foundation to foster systemic change and improve New Yorkers’ health statewide and fought to ensure that as much money as possible would be devoted to NYSHealth.”

Where they work: “NYSHealth operates statewide, from the eastern shore of Long Island to Niagara Falls to the northern Adirondacks. NYSHealth makes approximately half of its grants to organizations outside of New York City, to reflect the population distribution. It favors initiatives that can have impact statewide—at least in the long run—no matter where the grantee organization is located.”

What they fund: “Today, NYSHealth focuses most of its activities and grant making in two strategic priority areas: building healthy communities and empowering health care consumers. The foundation also focuses on the health and wellbeing of returning veterans and their families and manages a Special Projects Fund to support projects consistent with NYSHealth’s mission but outside of its priority areas.”

Food-related projects:

  • Expanding Healthy Food Access Points in Brownsville
  • Improving the Nutritional Quality of Food Pantry Donations in Clinton County
  • Setting the Stage to Scale and Sustain the Double Up Food Bucks Program in Western New York and the Finger Lakes
  • Assessment of the State of Nutrition Education at the New York City and State Levels
  • Universal School Lunch
  • Growing a New York City Food Hub
  • Advocacy for Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids

How to apply for funding: “Please see the Grant Seekers/Open RFP section of the NYSHealth website for current funding opportunities or contact Program Officer Bronwyn Starr at starr@nyshealth.or or Program Officer Nupur Chaudhury at for information on funding opportunities in support of healthy, affordable food options.”

Funding requirements: N/A

Amount in fund: N/A

North Star Fund

Mission: “For 38 years, North Star Fund has helped make democracy happen in New York City through a diverse network of donor activists to support grassroots community organizing for solutions to the greatest problems facing our city. By putting resources into the hands of those directly impacted by injustice and providing long-term support, North Star Fund helps causes to become social movements from the roots up.”

Founded: “Founded in 1979 by a group of young activists of inherited wealth.”

Where they work: “5 boroughs and the Hudson Valley.”

What they fund: “Community organizing.”

Food-related projects:

Community Food Advocates (CFA)

Hungry kids can’t learn. But across the nation, children skip school-provided lunches to avoid the stigma of being a “free lunch kid.” With 75 percent of New York City’s 1.1 million school-aged students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, CFA and its partners launched Lunch 4 Learning (L4L) to drive a simple solution home: provide lunch to everyone. Since its recent launch, CFA and L4L won free school lunch for all city middle school students. Despite his campaign promises, Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to instate free lunch for all public school students. With a broad-based coalition of over 200 organizational organizations and 60 elected officials, this year, CFA will engage, train, and mobilize 400 more youth and parents in L4L through direct actions, media advocacy, and city politics to make food equity a reality in New York City.

Street Vendor Project (SVP)

Street vendors are essential to the city’s fabric, making good food accessible and affordable to millions of New Yorkers daily. For street vendors, selling food and products is a means of survival and economic stability for them and their families. Despite the economic viability and benefit of street vendors, the law placed to cap the number of available food permits in New York City is now antiquated. Thousands of street vendors are in a trap, waiting for years for a permit and operating without one, subjecting immigrants, veterans, and women of color to constant NYPD abuse, harassment, and fines. SVP is a resource for vendors to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities and to access business training and loans. Through their organizing efforts, SVP won a major victory reducing fines. SVP’s campaign, Lift the Caps, will increase the number of NYC permits and licenses, increase space for vending, and achieve justice and fairness for New York City street vendors.”

How to apply for funding: “Grant deadlines vary depending on the type of grant. Visit our website.”

Funding requirements: “Requirements vary depending on type of grant. Visit our website.”

Amount in fund: “Annual operating budget is $3.8 million.”

Robin Hood

Mission: “Robin Hood is New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, and since 1988 has focused on finding, funding and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.”

Founded: 1998

Where they work: New York City

What they fund: “The Robin Hood Foundation was created in 1988 to find, fund and provide technical and management assistance to organizations serving poor New Yorkers. Robin Hood makes grants to poverty-fighting organizations that are direct service providers operating in the five boroughs of New York City. Since its founding, Robin Hood has raised more than $2.5 billion in dollars, goods and services to provide hundreds of the most effective soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools, job-training programs and other vital services that give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

Food-related projects:

“Center for Family Life in Sunset Park: Provides after-school programs, employment assistance, family counseling and emergency food, and runs a full-service Single Stop site.

City Harvest: Provides New York City’s 1,000 soup kitchens and food pantries with food that has been donated (“rescued”) from local food retailers.

Food Bank for New York City: Distributes 68 million pounds of food to over 1,200 emergency and community food programs.

More here.”

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: Guidelines listed here.

Amount in fund: “Last year, Robin Hood invested $130.4 million in more than 200 of the most effective poverty-fighting programs in NYC.”

Rockefeller Foundation

Mission: “The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission—unchanged since 1913—is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, we pursue this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities, and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, we work at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot.”

Founded: 1913

Where they work: Globally

What they fund: “The Foundation works to achieve its goal of creating meaningful and measurable impact for poor and vulnerable communities through smart globalization. To accomplish this, we currently are funding a portfolio of work structured around four core issue areas and focused on specific initiative strategies. To be successful, any funding inquiries must fit within our four core issue areas and one or more of our initiatives, listed here.”

Food-related projects: YieldWise initiative to reduce post-harvest food loss for African farmers.

How to apply for funding: Guidelines listed here.

Funding requirements: “We are a proactive grantmaking organization. As a result, we seek further information on an extremely small number of requests. Even fewer are funded. Incoming requests must clearly fit within the Foundation’s funding strategy, described here.”

Amount in fund: “All told, the foundation has given more than $17 billion in current dollars to support thousands of organizations and individuals worldwide.”

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