For Grant Seekers

North Lawndale Fresh

Call for Ideas (CFI)


Builders Initiative, 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. After two years of grantmaking (learn about the Austin Fresh grantees here and here), we are extending our work to North Lawndale, establishing North Lawndale Fresh, a one-million-dollar annual fund. Over five years (2022-2026), 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 North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side.

We are issuing this call for ideas to elicit projects and encourage collaboration among organizations and people who know the North Lawndale 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 North Lawndale 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 North Lawndale Fresh, and community representatives will participate in grant-making decisions. The foundation partners will seek additional ways to learn from and with the people of North Lawndale to ensure that the challenges of providing affordable, plentiful, and healthy food are community-owned and supported.


Despite strong health institutions and the corridor that is Ogden Ave, North Lawndale ranks 6th lowest in life expectancy out of Chicago’s 77 community areas. It also ranks among the highest in the Healthy Chicago 2.0 Hardship Index. North Lawndale envisions a better future. Its community-driven Quality of Life Plan states emphatically that the next chapter of North Lawndale can be a healthy, vibrant community with a diversified and innovative economy, competitive workforce, engaged citizens and infrastructure that supports long-term, sustainable growth (1).

We agree. In line with the Quality of Life Plan’s findings that it’s difficult to stay healthy when confronted by a combination of neighborhood safety concerns and a lack of fresh food options (110), this call for ideas seeks to promote healthier food choices across North Lawndale and green up shared spaces, further increasing the community’s food-productive assets and combatting urban blight.

Goals & Outcomes

North Lawndale Fresh seeks to encourage fulfillment of the goals of North Lawndale’s “Greening and Open Space” and “Health and Wellness” goals via food by supporting organizations working to do the following in North Lawndale:
1. Expand healthy food options,
2. Expand access to green spaces and food production,
3. Develop education or nutrition assistance,
4. Build food-related or nutrition-education related enterprises,
5. Build the North Lawndale economy through food-related enterprises.


All applicants must be:
● A 501(c)(3) non-profit (or led by one as the anchor applicant of a collaborative project) or operating with a fiscal sponsor.
● Operating in North Lawndale, and preferably located in North Lawndale, or have significant partnerships with a North Lawndale organization.
● Anchor applicants must be led by members of the North Lawndale community.
● Organizations that are actively and always trying to learn from their work and improve their approaches, even if that involves risk.
● Organizations that are open to shared learning and working collaboratively.

How to Submit

Ideas can be submitted through a short form at the online application system, hosted by Forefront, the fiscal sponsor of Fresh Taste. Register for a new account (if necessary for your organization) or log-in with an existing account.  Contact Vanessa Reese at for assistance with the online application system, which has changed platforms since the 2020 Austin Fresh Call for Ideas. See the North Lawndale Fresh FAQs for more information.

Submissions are invited in the spring. Check back in the 2024 for specific dates. Grant decisions will be made by a committee of foundation representatives and community members.

About the Foundations

The Walter Mander Foundation is a medium sized, family foundation which supports Chicago-area organizations working in the areas of community gardening, urban agriculture and community economic development, particularly organizations seeking to strengthen local food and agriculture businesses.

The Builders Initiative works to realize a humane and healthy planet, while changing markets and minds for good. We champion communities, people, and ideas on the frontiers of change. At BI we see our role as taking risks, laying the groundwork, and establishing the baseline for change and scale to come.

The Lumpkin Family Foundation supports people working together to create healthy, sustainable communities in east central Illinois and across the US. Our interest in North Lawndale arises from family members who live in and care deeply about the health and vitality of Chicago.


For general questions or help with the online application system:
Vanessa Reese, Fresh Taste,

Specific questions about projects may be directed to any of the partner foundation representatives:
Bruce Karmazin, Executive Director, The Lumpkin Family Foundation,
Haven Leeming, Program Officer, The Builders Initiative,
Chuck Wolf, President, Walter Mander Foundation, or Cassandra West:

Please direct inquiries on the North Lawndale Fresh to:

Monique B. Schlichtman

Chicago Program Officer
Phone: 773-420-7047

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North Lawndale Fresh Grantees

  • North Lawndale Fresh2022

    Chicago Horticultural Society

    This grant will support the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest (WCH) requests for critical upgrades to the point-of-sale system at its North Lawndale headquarters, the Farm on Ogden (FOO). These upgrades respond to growing demand at FOO, alleviating wait times and improving overall customer experience. This investment and additional efforts by the Farm on Ogden team will steadily enhance and increase North Lawndale customer participation.

    View Chicago Horticultural Society's Website
  • North Lawndale Fresh2022

    North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (Fiscal Sponsor, New Covenant Development Corporation)

    To support the NLCCC Food Collaborative's expansion of healthy food options for community residents and build the North Lawndale economy through food-related enterprises by expanding a successful food distribution initiative (with Top Box Foods) and supporting Black-owned, local grocery businesses. NLCCC member organizations include Boxing Out Negativity, Firehouse Community Arts Center, Foundation for Homan Square, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, North Lawndale Employment Network and Sweet Beginnings LLC, and Sinai Chicago, among others.

    View North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (Fiscal Sponsor, New Covenant Development Corporation)'s Website
  • North Lawndale Fresh2022

    Young Men's Educational Network (YMEN)

    This grant will support the North Lawndale Garden to Table Pipeline, which creates a sustainable food system that connects proven community organizations to combine locally grown, nutrient rich food with available food. Prepared meals and food packages will be distributed in community settings and delivered to elderly and isolated.

    View Young Men's Educational Network (YMEN)'s Website