Originally planned as a series of grant rounds in 2020 and early 2021, the Fund will continue through 2024.
Strengthening the food system and building a just future
The Chicago Region Food System Fund addresses hunger and business disruption by bolstering the region’s communities and local food system in response to COVID-19 and other systemic shocks. The total support granted by the Fund is $11,438,150 to 156 non-profit organizations since June 2020.
In addition to food-focused organizations serving farmers, growers, and advocates, the Fund supports a range of organizations, including but not limited to community associations like block clubs and houses of worship who consider food part of their mission, and local food businesses that bring food from farm to table.
- The Steering Committee is composed of six community representatives and three funder representatives.
- It is responsible for overall fund strategy and design for grantmaking.
- It is majority community representatives to center the voices of on-the-ground practitioners with extensive experience in the local food system.
When times are easy and there’s plenty to go around, individual species can go it alone. But when conditions are harsh and life is tenuous, it takes a team sworn to reciprocity to keep life going forward.Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants Robin Wall Kimmerer, Author/Professor
Adapting to strengthen resilience in the food system
The pandemic has taught us a lot. Food system nonprofits and businesses are moving quickly, building on assets, and prototyping new ways of doing things. It’s a dynamic moment. The Chicago Region Food System Fund wants to support and accelerate that dynamism as much as possible, both in the grants we make and how we partner to capture learning with a commitment to continual improvement.
Diverse approaches, hopeful future
Some see resilience in the context of climate change. Others see it in the ability to live through and transform trauma. Still others see it as food sovereignty rooted in traditional ecological knowledge as practiced by indigenous communities. Or in locally owned and well-integrated food businesses. No one approach can define and ensure resilience—but together the region’s vibrant web of rural, urban, and peri-urban food communities can build a resilient, racially and economically just future.
Only 501(c)(3) organizations or fiscal sponsors are eligible to apply. The Chicago Region Food Fund focuses on an area roughly 200 miles from Chicago. Tribal nations located more than 200 miles from Chicago are eligible to apply if the Chicago region is part of their market. Previous CRFSF grantees are eligible to reapply. See the CRFSF FAQs page for more info.
HOW TO APPLY
Information about future rounds of funding will be announced throughout 2022. Use the button below if you’d like to access your online account at any time.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT EMAILS FROM CRFSF
Emails from CRFSF related to your application will come from one of two email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or “Forefront <email@example.com>”. You may want to add the addresses to your address book. If you have any questions about your application or the online application system, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Forefront email address listed above is unmonitored.
SUPPORT THE FUND
The Chicago Region Food System Fund welcomes additional support for this important work.MAKE A DONATION*
*Donate online by credit card for amounts $5 to $4,999.
If you have questions about donating, want to discuss a major gift of $5,000 or greater, or prefer to donate via check or ACH, please email email@example.com.
The fund was created through the generosity of the founding donors with an initial investment of $4.2M in June 2020 and is managed by Fresh Taste, fiscally sponsored by Forefront.
IN THE MEDIA
For Immediate Release: Over $1.5 Million Awarded by the Chicago Region Food System Fund to 48 Grantees
***Grants Build on Community Assets Fundamental to Chicago’s Food System***
The Chicago Region Food System Fund (CRFSF) today announces its new steering committee responsible for overall fund strategy and design for grantmaking. The Steering Committee is composed of six community representatives and three funder representatives. The Committee is majority community representatives to center the voices of on-the-ground practitioners with extensive experience in the local food system.
For Immediate Release: $1.5M of Emergency Funding Awarded by The Chicago Region Food System Fund to Address Ongoing Impacts of COVID-19
***60 $25,000 Grants Distributed; Total of $9,917,150 Awarded to 139 Grantees Since June 2020***
For Immediate Release: Applications Open For $1 Million in Funding from the Chicago Region Food System Fund
***40 Grants of $25,000 Each Available to Address Continuing COVID-19-Related Impacts on Chicago’s Food System***
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Photos courtesy of Plant Chicago, Elawa Farm Foundation, Chinese American Service League, and Gary Comer Youth Center.