Earlier this year, the Christopher Family Foundation joined with the Lumpkin Family Foundation and The Builder’s Initiative to explore what it would mean to support greater access to healthy food in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side—a key strategy of Austin’s Quality of Life Plan. We pooled a pledged $1 million in grant funds (later expanded by The Builder’s Initiative) and put out a request for proposals. At the same time, we began to form what we hope will be long-standing and fruitful relationships with the organizations leading collaborative efforts to improve the quality of life for and by Austin residents. We’re now happy to announce the 2020 Austin Fresh awards. Seven organizations were funded:
NeighborSpace: to improve facilities at a group of Austin community gardens and to re-activate the community around each garden to make best use of it.
Austin Coming Together: to support coordination efforts on all food-related work in Austin as it pertains to the community’s quality of life plan, and to help build the collective, positive narrative of the changes coming to Austin.
Westside Health Authority: to work with Forty Acres Fresh Market, an existing for-profit fresh market concept, to move them into a permanent space and provide a full-service produce store in Austin (site and much funding already acquired). This funding will help to build out a site on Chicago Avenue for a full-service produce market.
BUILD, Inc.: to expand their Iris garden, and involve more youth in its care, as well as to add some gardening efforts off-site, where youth will work with elders in the community to grow food.
By the Hand Club for Kids: to take their Austin Harvest pop-up market from a 12-week pilot last summer to a year-round program making low-cost produce available in the community and teaching entrepreneurialism to the youth.
GAP Community Center: to teach children from the north end of Austin to cook, and to build a bridge between Austin’s Black population and the growing Latino population on the north end of the neighborhood.
Faith in Place: to build out a commercial kitchen at Greater St. John Bible Church where residents can obtain their sanitation certificates, and caterers can execute contracts in a legally licensed kitchen.
With this robust cohort of projects, driven by the dreams and efforts of the community, we believe our five-year collaboration is off to an exciting start. It’s a privilege to support the work of these excellent organizations, and a pleasure to work with our partner foundations.