Austin Fresh 2022: Call for Ideas


Builders Initiative, The Christopher Family Foundation, Food:Land:Opportunity, The Lumpkin Family Foundation and the Walter Mander Foundation want all Chicago communities to thrive. We are united in the belief that access to healthy, affordable food is a human right and critical to community health. We envision an equitable Chicagoland region in which all people have knowledge of and access to healthy food.

To this end, in 2020 we created a one-million-dollar annual fund called Austin Fresh. Over five years, we will work collaboratively with partners to expand healthy retail options, support community gardens and local food production, grow food enterprises, and protect and strengthen food assistance programs in
the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Learn about the 2021 grantees here and the 2020 grantees here.

We are issuing this call for ideas to elicit projects and encourage collaboration among organizations and people who know the Austin landscape and understand the requirements for success. Examples of the types of ideas we would welcome include (but are in no way limited to):

  • Community food gardens which increase access to healthy, affordable food;
  • Neighborhood or school habitat projects that support food production (e.g. pollinator gardens) or which give residents greater access to nature, even if they aren’t directly related to food production (e.g. tree planting);
  • Community kitchens and other processing enterprises that add value to food and empower entrepreneurs to build businesses and create jobs;
  • Food cooperatives;
  • Nutrition education or cooking classes focused on the preparation of fresh and healthy meals, or community cooking efforts, in which the effort of creating prepared meals is shared, to make it easier for families to eat well;
  • Food as medicine approaches to health which focus on diet and nutrition;
  • Commercial ventures designed to increase access to healthy or local food while building the economy of the Austin community (provided a non-profit organization is the applicant).

We believe in a place-based model of funding. We strived to listen and learn from the community in the creation of Austin Fresh, and community representatives will continue to participate in grant-making decisions. The foundation partners will seek additional ways to learn from and with the people of Austin to ensure that the challenges of providing affordable, plentiful, and healthy food are community-owned and supported. Our work in Austin has led us to the wells of talent in the community and a deep appreciation for all of Austin. We hope our investments can lend support to local leaders in ways that tip the scales toward justice, healing, and equitable access for all.

The 2022 Call for Ideas opens August 2. Submissions are due by midnight, August 31, 2022. More details about the project, including how to apply, can be found here.