|Our 2024-25 Grantmaking ProgramThe Better Food Policy Fund’s Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) continues to shape our debut grantmaking program. Highlights include: 2-year pilot provides unrestricted funding to US-based food policy councils10 grants of $30,000 each will be awarded in April 2024 and renewed in 2025 Eligibility based on the nature of how the group approaches its workSimple applications, 2 pages max, are due March 5Finalists will participate in a virtual storytelling session in mid-March
Our program will not pit one council against another. You don’t need to make the case for funding your work – we believe you deserve funding. We don’t have enough funds for everyone, and we don’t want to waste anyone’s time. So we’ve structured this more like a lottery than a competition, requiring what we hope is a minimal amount of effort in order to apply.
Read more in the pre-announcement here. Full details will be shared by January 20.
|About What You Said…We received over 100 responses to our recent request for input on what criteria the IAC should consider when selecting grantees. We are SO GRATEFUL!
Top responses for eligibility criteria included: Accountability: Accountable to the community and ultimate constituentsComplexity: Addressing complex food systems work, not band aid fixesEquity: Using equity tools in strategic decision-makingGovernance: Using inclusive decision-making and governance structures
Top responses for success factors included: Collaboration: Working with diverse groups to form unified alliancesEmpathy: Understanding diverse perspectives and fostering inclusion and equityKnowledge: Deep understanding of the issue and its implicationsLeadership: Guiding and motivating others towards the common goal
Top responses for areas to learn included: Policy solutions that address root causesDeveloping capacity to engage in policy change & build political powerShared or adaptive leadership, empowering leaders with lived-experienceOvercoming and addressing oppressive practices and scarcity mindset
You can see the full survey results here.
We learned a lot from this exercise – not just about your thinking, but also about how important it is to ask for this kind of input. Our IAC members felt bolstered by seeing your responses align with their instincts. Several of you reported that participating in the survey had real meaning. As a result, we’d like to recommend involving stakeholders in setting selection criteria as a grantmaking best practice.
|Leaning into TrustThis summer, we asked for your help identifying councils to feature in our case studies. We got a whopping 30+ options—way more than we could interview. How on earth were we going to choose?
We started planning how to evaluate and rank to narrow down the list. Then we had a lightbulb moment: why evaluate them at all? Aren’t all these councils great? So, we decided to try out just picking blindly from the nominations.
As we randomly selected councils, we made sure there was a mix—different structures, places, and folks involved. We wanted our case studies to showcase the full spectrum of food policy councils out there.
Delegating elimination to chance, we found we were able to switch gears. The process turned into a cool treasure hunt, celebrating what councils were doing rather than trying to rule anyone out. The impact of a shift in mindset from scrutiny to celebration was profound. As a result, the 2024-25 grantmaking program incorporates this learning.
We ended up with a short list for case study interviews: Alaska Food Policy CouncilBaltimore City Food Policy ActionGreater Cincinnati Food Policy CouncilJust Foods CollaborativeNew Mexico Food & Ag Policy Council
And a backup list if we have enough budget to interview more groups:California Food and Farming NetworkCass-Clay Food PartnersCumberland County Food Security CouncilDouglas County Food Policy CouncilWhatcom County Food System Committee
We thank you for your help in surfacing groups doing such great work!
|Catalyzing Support for FPCsOn December 7, Sustainable Ag and Food Systems Funders hosted a funder-only webinar designed to: Feature diverse US food policy councils tackling tough food system issuesHelp funders analyze challenges and opportunities for food policy changeShow how backing food councils can drive change at various government levelsGuide funders in supporting food policy councils effectively
The webinar was well-attended. Three different food councils were featured: Syracuse Onondaga Food Systems Alliance New Orleans Food Policy Action Council Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition
The Better Food Policy Fund was well-represented with speakers: IAC member Karen Bassarab, Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future IAC member j. olu baiyewu, City of Atlanta Urban Agriculture Director Seed donor Jane Schmitz, Director, From Now On Fund Fund facilitator Christy Shi Day
To those of you who joined our list after attending the webinar – welcome!
|Please spread the word.The more co-funders, the more councils supported.It’s clear many resources are needed to sustain the work of groups engaging in civic collaboration for better food policy. We are actively seeking co-funders to increase the support we can offer these groups. Please encourage those who may be interested in becoming a co-funder to get in touch or register for updates!
|Photo credit: Mark Willis; CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2019