NEWS


Kinship Foundation Names Director of Conservation Programs

July 5, 2017

Kinship Foundation has appointed Lenore Beyer as its director of conservation programs. In this newly created position at Kinship, Lenore will manage Food:Land:Opportunity, a multi-year initiative that looks to increase the supply of local food in the Chicago region, and she will support the strategic planning for Kinship Conservation Fellows, an international program that trains conservationists in the application of market-based tools to conservation challenges. Prior to Kinship Foundation, Lenore was the vice president of policy and planning at Openlands.

“We're thrilled to have Lenore join our team,” said Renee Michaels, vice president of Kinship Foundation. “Lenore’s wealth of experience and deep expertise in the field of conservation will be invaluable to Kinship Foundation’s regional and global conservation programs.”

In her 12 years with Openlands, Lenore directed internal and external teams to develop innovative policy solutions, conservation initiatives and community engagement activities that have urban, regional and statewide impact. She planned and implemented Openlands’ policy and advocacy agenda and managed specific projects to protect land, water and natural resources. One of her key achievements was the creation of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. Additionally, Lenore supervised Openlands’ community engagement activities in the urban landscape, managing signature projects transforming Chicago schoolyards into greenspace and community gardens, and education programs to facilitate connecting people to nature. Prior to Openlands, Lenore was the executive director of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, a citizen advocacy organization, where she worked on environmental policy and education issues, including protecting rivers and wetlands, groundwater, sustainable land use, natural landscaping, and waste reduction. Lenore has a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois.

“I look forward to using my skills and experience at Kinship Foundation to leverage growth of the local sustainable food system and increase conservation success through support of the next generation of environmental leadership,” said Lenore. “I am eager to learn how philanthropy can spur innovation while strategically supporting research, ideas and programs.”

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Common Ground Gathering brings farmers together with land owners

June 15, 2017

Liberty Prairie Foundation hosted an event called the Common Ground Gathering on June 8 at Soulful Prairie Farms in Woodstock, Illinois. The social event brought together farmers and landowners to network and share their experiences related to the sustainable farmer/landowner relationship.

Liberty Prairie Foundation is a grantee of Food:Land:Opportunity and working in partnership with Openlands on the Land Access Pilot Project, a three-year initiative to increase sustainable local food farming on public and privately owned lands in northeastern Illinois.

Contact Nathan Aaberg for more information about local food and conservation events sponsored by Liberty Prairie Foundation: nathan(at)libertyprairie.org

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Food to Market Challenge Awards $500K to Bring Healthy Food to Underserved Communities

October 27, 2016

-PRESS RELEASE-

CHICAGO, IL - Sponsors of the Food to Market Challenge today announced Team Leverage: Bringing it Home as the winner of its $500,000 award. A partnership between Top Box Foods, FarmLogix, and This Old Farm, Team Leverage will create a scalable model to bring local, healthy foods into underserved communities in the Chicago region by partnering a local farm network with Chicago companies who currently deliver local food into schools.

The winner was announced at a Pitch Event on October 26 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Five finalist teams presented their ideas to a panel of five judges and an audience of nearly 300 people, which included local food producers, entrepreneurs, investors and staff and executives from the sponsoring organizations, Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

Each finalist team presented a compelling solution to the Challenge’s call to “develop the most innovative solution to improve the supply of local and sustainable food in the Chicago region.”

“The Food to Market Challenge was fundamentally a supply chain competition,” said Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer at The Chicago Community Trust. “That diverse team structure gave us much more than good, scalable solutions for an emerging but fragmented local food marketplace, it produced the partnerships and coordination required for supply chain efficiency.”

The winning team brings together a non-profit organization that supplies SNAP-enabled boxes of healthy, fresh foods (Top Box Foods), a network of growers and producers based in Colfax, Indiana (This Old Farm), and a technology system to link farmers with buyers, including sourcing and aggregation (FarmLogix).

"We are excited for the opportunity to scale economic impact and nutritional access for the communities we serve—our local farmers, residents of low access Chicagoland communities, and our Chicago youth. This would not be possible without the Challenge. Now we can demonstrate our capabilities on a broader stage. Additionally, we look forward to continuing the collaborative energy that began with this competition to create an impactful solution far greater than we could achieve as individual companies," said Linda Mallers, CEO and President of FarmLogix.

The Challenge put a spotlight on issues that have hindered the scale of local food in the Chicago region and also showcased some of the innovative thinking already taking place. “All of our finalists brought forward tremendous ideas to consider,” said Renee Michaels, Vice President of Kinship Foundation. “We’re excited not only to see the winning solution roll out, but also to see the momentum that has built behind all of the ideas.The energy that the Challenge has brought to farmers, nonprofits, small businesses, and others all along the supply chain has been remarkable. We hope to continue to see ripples of collaboration and innovation in the sector in the months ahead.”

Ben Shorofsky, Programs Specialist at the Delta Institute and a member of one of the finalist teams, the Artisan Grain Collaborative said: “The Food to Market Challenge spurred the development of an unprecedented partnership among bakers, chefs, millers, nonprofits, advocates, entrepreneurs, and school nutrition experts around a common vision of a more regenerative agricultural system. We are looking forward to seeing how this partnership grows and develops as we introduce small batch artisan grains into the Chicago region.”

Another finalist team member, Angela Mason from the Chicago Botanic Garden said, “The Challenge gave us the opportunity to talk about the Farm on Ogden Development, a collaboration that is central to the mission of the Chicago Botanic Garden's Windy City Harvest program. We stood in front of judges and guests who may have not known about the depth of our work throughout Chicago. We are thrilled and honored to have been selected as one of the five finalists in the Food to Market Challenge. The Farm on Ogden Development is a unique partnership that will continue to work together to transform Chicago’s local food system.”

The five finalists were chosen from a pool of 24 submissions. Each team’s application was first ranked and scored by an Evaluation Panel. Then each team’s food production partner(s) had to be certified as local and sustainable. The Selection Committee judges were: Bram Bluestein, Alpana Singh, Helene York, Chuck Templeton and Joel Moore.

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About the Food to Market Challenge
The Food to Market Challenge is a project of Food:Land:Opportunity—Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year initiative that aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region's communities. Funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

About Kinship Foundation
Kinship Foundation is a private operating foundation established to advance the institutional philanthropy of the Searle Family. The Foundation has three areas of focus: biomedical research, environmental conservation and education. Its work includes: developing and supporting Chicago-based grant making initiatives through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust; administering the Searle Scholars Program, a national biomedical research grant program; and operating Kinship Conservation Fellows, a global environmental leadership program.

About The Chicago Community Trust
The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to improving the Chicago region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. The Trust serves nonprofit organizations, donors and residents who strive to make a difference. The Trust works with a number of partnerships and initiatives to accomplish its bold vision to create lasting community change. Since its founding in 1915, the Trust has awarded over $2 billion in grants to more than 11,000 local nonprofit organizations—including more than $208 million in 2015.


CONTACTS                  
Kinship Foundation
Renee Michaels, Vice President
[email protected]

The Chicago Community Trust
Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer
[email protected]

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Food to Market Challenge Names Finalists

July 25, 2016

-PRESS RELEASE-

CHICAGO, IL - Sponsors of the Food to Market Challenge today announced the five teams that will advance to the final round of the competition. The winning team will receive $500,000 to develop their solution to improve the supply of local and sustainable food in the Chicago region.

The Challenge called for innovative ideas to address the barriers that limit the scale of the local food market. The finalist proposals are (in alphabetical order):

Chicago Artisan Grain Collaborative
Create a regenerative food system by building a market for nutrient-rich grains and beans in Chicago.

F.O.O.D. - Farm on Ogden Development
Establish an urban food hub and broad partnership network to develop and support new farmers and distribute 280,000 pounds of produce.

Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance
Create a network of on-farm aggregation hubs connecting transportation, information technology, farmer alliances, and a distribution partner.

Kane County
Catalyze a food infrastructure and launch a trading network linking farms and food hubs to customers in the Chicago region through technology and transportation.

Team Leverage: Bringing it Home
Create a scalable model to bring local, healthy foods into underserved Chicago communities by partnering a local farm network with Chicago companies who currently deliver local food into schools.

“Collaboration across sectors is vital to creating a more resilient local food economy,” said Renee Michaels, Vice President of Kinship Foundation. “The team-based structure of the Food to Market Challenge was designed to catalyze new types of collaboration. The finalist teams are a great example of how bringing new partners together can generate new ideas and new energy for change.”

“Markets thrive on innovation,” said Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer with The Chicago Community Trust. ”We designed Food:Land:Opportunity knowing that a competition would deliver ideas that traditional funding vehicles are unable to do. The solutions proposed by the finalists will help to fill in the supply chain gaps of this important economic sector.”

The five finalists were chosen from a pool of 24 submissions. Each team’s application was first ranked and scored by an Evaluation Panel. Then each team’s food production partner(s) had to be certified as local and sustainable. The finalists will present their proposals at a pitch event on October 26, 2016 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where the winner will be chosen by the Selection Committee: Michael Ferro, Bob Mariano, Alpana Singh, Chuck Templeton and Helene York.

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About the Food to Market Challenge

The Food to Market Challenge is a project of Food:Land:Opportunity—Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year initiative that aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region's communities. 

Funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust. 

CONTACTS                
The Chicago Community Trust
Katelyn Yoshimoto
312-573-5492

Kinship Foundation
Sarah Knobloch
Senior Program Associate
[email protected]

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Food to Market Challenge featured in Chicago Tribune

April 26, 2016

"$500K challenge to improve local food supply gets underway." Story by Greg Trotter

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Food to Market Challenge Announces Judges for Selection Committee

March 25, 2016

-PRESS RELEASE-

CHICAGO, IL - Sponsors of the Food to Market Challenge today announced the judges for its Selection Committee. The Challenge is a competition that will award $500,000 for the most innovative solution to improve the supply of local and sustainable food in the Chicago region.                          

The judges are Michael Ferro, the Chicago based inventor, investor and philanthropist; Bob Mariano, CEO and Chairman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based supermarket chain Roundy's; Alpana Singh, the restaurateur and Master Sommelier who owns and operates Chicago restaurants, The Boarding House and Seven Lions; Chuck Templeton, the founder of OpenTable and the Managing Director of Seed 2 Growth Ventures, an investment fund focused on healthy food and sustainable agriculture; and Helene York, Global Director, Responsible Business for Compass Group at Google who has developed new produce, seafood, meat, chocolate and coffee supply chains for large-scale food services.

Submissions to the Challenge are reviewed first by an Evaluation Panel that will rank and score each submission, then by an Expert Panel that will certify that the food production partners are local and sustainable. The Selection Committee judges will choose the winning team at a pitch event for Finalists.

"We are excited to have such high caliber experts as part of our competition,” says Renee Michaels, Vice President, Kinship Foundation. “The Evaluation and Expert Panel reviewers along with the Selection Committee are a group of talented and innovative thinkers who we know will add value to each team’s competition experience. We are pleased to have their insights and guidance to choose the winner of the Food to Market Challenge."

“The Selection Committee reflects the type of diversity we anticipate among the Food To Market Challenge finalists,” says Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer, The Chicago Community Trust. “As a result, each team stands to benefit from the collective wisdom of a group that understands the complexities of bringing new solutions to an emerging marketplace like local food.”

Teams can register to compete in the Challenge up until 10 a.m. on April 26. Final applications are due on May 10. The pitch event will take place on October 26, 2016 at the Museum of Contemporary Art and is free and open to the public.

--/--
About the Food to Market Challenge
The Food to Market Challenge will award $500,000 to the multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to reconceive supply chain practices that today limit the scale or efficiency of the Chicago region's local and sustainable food market.

The Challenge is a project of Food:Land:Opportunity—Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year initiative that aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region's communities.

Funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

CONTACTS              
Kinship Foundation
Sarah Knobloch
Senior Program Associate
[email protected]
                          
The Chicago Community Trust
Michael Davidson
Senior Program Officer
[email protected]

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Meet the sponsors of the Food to Market Challenge at the Good Food Festival on March 25

February 25, 2016

The 12th Annual Good Food Festival & Conference takes place March 24-26, 2016 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Forum. The three day event connects people who are active in the Good Food community: farmers, food producers, investors, trade buyers, policy makers, activists, families and Good Food lovers.

Attendees of the Festival will have an opportunity to meet with the sponsors of the Food to Market Challenge on Friday, March 25 from noon to 1 p.m. Program staff from Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust will be on hand to answer questions about the competition.

Register for the Festival today.

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Food to Market Challenge featured in Crain's Chicago Business

February 9, 2016

"Your idea for increasing the supply of local food is worth $500,000." Story by Peter Frost 

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Food to Market Challenge Launches to Boost the Chicago Region’s Supply of Local and Sustainable Food

January 27, 2016

-PRESS RELEASE-

CHICAGO, IL – The Food to Market Challenge (www.foodtomarketchallenge.org) will award $500,000 to the multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to improve the supply of local and sustainable food in the Chicago region.

The Challenge is a project of Food:Land:Opportunity, a philanthropic initiative developed by Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust that aims to create a resilient local food economy and promote environmental conservation and economic development for the Chicago region.

“Bringing more local, sustainable food into the Chicago region means a more robust local food economy and a healthier environment,” says Renee Michaels, Vice President at Kinship Foundation, one of the sponsors of the Challenge. “The Challenge is one strategy that the Food:Land:Opportunity initiative is employing to strengthen local food business practices and attract capital to the region’s local and sustainable food system.”

“Currently, there are significant barriers to the supply chain that limit the ability of local food growers to scale the amount of food brought into the Chicago region,” says Michael Davidson, Senior Program Officer at The Chicago Community Trust, another sponsor of the Challenge. “The Food to Market Challenge will identify a solution that makes the comparatively small size of local and sustainable food enterprises less of a marketplace barrier, and it will be feasible to implement; can be sustained or grow even after funding from the Challenge ends; and advances the charitable purposes of Food:Land:Opportunity.”

In order to participate in the Challenge, teams need to be made up of at least two organizations or individuals and must include at least one local grower whose farming operation is in the Chicago foodshed, which is defined as within a 250-mile radius around the City of Chicago. Teams can include a wide range of interests, such as food supply chain companies, software businesses, government entities, and nonprofit organizations. The winning team will receive $500,000 to implement its proposed solution.

Submissions go through a rigorous review and evaluation process by panels of experts. Up to five finalists will be asked to present their plans during a live pitch presentation where the final Selection Committee will determine the winner. The Food to Market Challenge is staged by Common Pool, LLC, a company that creates custom competitions to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

“Through meaningful incentives and a fair, open, and transparent selection process,” says Jaison Morgan, founder and CEO of Common Pool, “the Challenge will attract and inspire multidisciplinary teams to propose innovative supply chain solutions.” The registration deadline for the Food to Market Challenge is April 26, 2016, and submissions are due May 10, 2016. Those interested in participating can learn more about the competition or register today at www.foodtomarketchallenge.org. The winner will be announced sometime in October.
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About Food:Land:Opportunity, www.foodlandopportunity.org  
Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust that aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region’s communities.

CONTACTS:

Kinship Foundation
Sarah Knobloch
Senior Program Associate
[email protected]

The Chicago Community Trust
Michael Davidson
Senior Program Officer
[email protected]

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Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust Announce Groundbreaking Local Food Initiative

March 10, 2014

-PRESS RELEASE-

CHICAGO, IL – The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust today launched Food:Land:Opportunity – Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year initiative aimed at increasing the region’s supply of local and sustainable food. The initiative is designed to leverage the Chicago region’s food system in order to strengthen the long-term resiliency of land and communities.
 
“Local food systems offer an exceptional opportunity to simultaneously improve environmental stewardship and local livelihoods,” says Karie Thomson, Searle family consultant to the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and chair of the Kinship Foundation board. “We know that it’s possible to grow food and support food entrepreneurs while cultivating land sustainably. Food:Land:Opportunity makes use of this synergy on a systemic scale with an approach that represents a first for the Chicago region.”
 
Driven by surges in farmers markets and direct wholesaling, the region’s food system is undergoing unprecedented change. Currently, demand for local and sustainable food outpaces supply. By increasing access to land for sustainable production, strengthening the business skills of food practitioners, and attracting capital to the system, Food:Land:Opportunity advances the region’s ability to respond to this demand and positions Chicago as a national leader in local food production.
 
Terry Mazany, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, says, “Chicago has always taken pride of place at the intersection of American agriculture and American ingenuity. Rising amid the world’s most productive soils, Chicago has nurtured innovative start-ups that changed the face first of retail, then of industry, and today of global business and technology. Food:Land:Opportunity will help define a new leadership role, tackling systemic challenges to ensure that the Chicago region steps forward as a leader in the movement for sustainable, local food.”
 
Food:Land:Opportunity will provide nearly $2 million annually to local food projects over the next two years. The initiative aims to spur innovation at multiple points in the local food system supply chain through strategic grantmaking, fellowships, pilots, and an innovation competition. The first project to receive support is the Good Food Accelerator, a feature of FamilyFarmed.org’s Good Food Financing Program that prepares local food entrepreneurs to connect with potential investors through business training.
 
“This initiative comes at a very exciting time,” says Karen Lehman, Director of Fresh Taste, a funder collaborative in which The Chicago Community Trust and Kinship Foundation participate. “We have an unprecedented opportunity and urgent need to support the food producing assets in our region. This will be a terrific contribution.”
 
Food:Land:Opportunity is funded by The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. It is a collaboration of Kinship Foundation, a private operating foundation established to support the Searle family’s institutional philanthropy and The Chicago Community Trust.

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Contact

Contact program staff or sign up to receive email updates.

Kinship Foundation

Lenore Beyer
Director of Conservation Programs

The Chicago Community Trust

Michael Davidson
Senior Program Officer

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