2012 - 2015 Cohorts

Individual Projects and Impacts

A new 2012–2015 cohort of 13 foundations was chosen in late 2012. In its last year of implementation, these foundations have been supporting a range of diverse and exciting efforts from building a center for community policy leadership within low-income communities and communities or color; to developing new equity-focused grant initiatives to support community organizing for healthy, equitable transportation and land use planning; and advancing food access and policy councils in rural communities. The 2012 initiative builds upon the successes of and lessons learned by the first cohort. This cohort — who also represents a diverse cross-section of urban and rural foundations from across the country — are demonstrating similarly transformative outcomes as the first.

Blue Grass Community Foundation, Lexington, KY

Blue Grass Community Foundation helps individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations establish charitable funds that meet community needs and make a difference. For more information visit http://bgcf.org/

Location: Lexington, KY


Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant for the formation of the Lexington East End Equity Partnership (LEEEP). BGCF and its project partners have a history of investment and work in the East End, but have not engaged in strategic and collaborative policy and advocacy work. Using the Legacy Trail as the basis for LEEEP's work, the collaborative will focus on policy change at the local level in the areas of trail route placement, urban farming land use, rooftop greenhouse zoning, corner market transformation, and mobile produce bus permitting and complete streets. The LEEEP initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • Advocacy for complete streets for the Legacy Trail through the East End of Lexington.
  • Coordination of completion of the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden as part of the Legacy Trail.
  • Advocacy for urban forestation in the East End. LEEEP will work with the Division of Planning to expand the street tree ordinance to include fruit trees. This effort would be tied to urban farming and agriculture policy initiatives for vacant land use adjacent to the trail.
  • Advocacy for policy change to incentivize corner store transformation.
  • Advocacy for land use zoning for urban farming and roof top gardens. Efforts will promote policies to support and expand urban food production through land donations, protective zoning measures, and designated funding sources; as well as identify current policy barriers or ordinances that restrict future urban food production.
  • Advocacy for permitting for a mobile neighborhood fresh produce bus. The East End of Lexington has been classified as a food desert and residents have limited access to transportation, making improved access to healthy food critical.

Brooklyn Community Foundation, Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn Community Foundation seeks to improve the lives of people in Brooklyn by strengthening communities through local giving, grant making and community service. For more information visit http://www.brooklyncommunityfoundation.org.


Location: Brooklyn, NY


The Brooklyn Community Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to build a network of healthy food and healthy living strategies in public housing communities in Brooklyn, specifically in Red Hook, Fort Greene and Brownsville. The proposed initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • The Foundation will partner with three to four community-based organizations to provide direct program support in the targeted public housing communities. The Foundation will also convene additional community-based organizations and local government officials to become founding members of an advisory committee to the Foundation as it implements this initiative.
  • Each of the selected community-based organizations in the target neighborhoods will receive grants to support specific healthy food access projects including: integrating community voices into the design and implementation of new urban agriculture projects in housing projects; expanding an Urban Farm Corps project (providing young adults of color in public housing with opportunities to participate in the green economy); implementing exercise, walking and biking initiatives; and expanding a Healthy Food in Schools Campaign.
  • Utilize the Advisory Committee to work with public housing communities to design and administer local mini-grants and RFP's in support of the initiative.
  • Fully engage residents of public housing in the initiative with a focus on leadership development.

Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, IA

Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque grows philanthropy to improve life in northeast Iowa by serving donors, strengthening nonprofits and leading collaborative initiatives to address community needs.For more information visit http://dbqfoundation.org/AboutUs/WhatisaCommunityFoundation.aspx


Location: Dubuque, IA


The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to fund planning for and creation of a food hub, which will allow local food producers to market, process and distribute healthy food to vulnerable children and their families. The food hub will focus on pilot projects to address barriers to get more local food into schools, stores and institutions. The initiative will include the following components:


  • An education and health mission.
  • A sustainability plan that builds local support and includes transaction fees from food aggregation activities – local farmers, school districts and institutions doing business with the food hub – to sustain the hub.
  • Leadership development assistance provided by CFGD executives to the 27-member Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission Board, a council of governments that is involved in planning decisions and that will provide administrative support for the food hub.
  • County-level support for food hub projects from member foundations of The Northeast Iowa Funders Network through their annual grant application processes.
  • Building engagement and support from food producers and consumers within the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative Leadership Council.
  • Assistance to three county community foundation boards as they serve donors to build endowments, make grants and provide community leadership to support the development of local food markets.


Con Alma Health Foundation, Santa Fe, NM

Con Alma Health Foundation seeks to improve the health status and access to health care services for all New Mexicans and advocates for policies that address health needs. For more information visit www.conalma.org


Location: Santa Fe, NM


Con Alma Health Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to promote equity and health by increasing equitable built environments and access to healthy food with a focus on low-income communities, rural communities, and communities of color; to support the preservation and enhancement of cultural and spiritual assets in the community; and to develop capacity by creating a long-term commitment to equity-focused policy and environmental efforts. The proposed initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • Establishment of Steering Committee and an Advisory Council to identify built environment opportunities and strategies in the community.
  • Mini-grants to community-based nonprofits to support innovative strategies to improve community health through food system, built environment and policy change.
  • Involvement of communities in policy development and environmental changes, including engagement of local and indigenous community members in leadership roles and decision-making related to food policy and equity strategies.
  • Support for locally grown and culturally significant foods.
  • Increasing support for the preservation of agricultural traditions.
  • Increasing engagement of elders and indigenous people to share cultural and traditional knowledge related to health and equity.
  • Expansion of grantmaking priorities to include promoting health and equity through built environment and food access policy.
  • Engaging funding partners in developing and implementing project strategies and in learning opportunities to leverage resources and funding.

Denver Foundation, Denver, CO

The Denver Foundation inspires people and mobilizes resources to strengthen the Metro Denver community. For more information visit http://www.denverfoundation.org/.


Location: Denver, CO


The Denver Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to support healthy, equitable transit-oriented development (TOD) as part of its leadership in Mile High Connects (MHC). MHC is a collaborative of local and national foundations, banks, and nonprofit organizations working to ensure that the expansion and preservation of metro Denver's transit system provides greater access to the destinations and resources that residents need for a high quality of life, including affordable housing, good-paying jobs, educational opportunities, healthy food, and other essential services. MHC's core mission is to promote equity in local and regional transit planning and to influence transit policy in the region to ensure that ALL metro Denver residents have the opportunity for a high quality of life.


MHC will use the Innovation Fund to help launch the MHC Grant Fund. The Grant Fund's goal is to build the capacity of external partners to take advantage of the opportunities for transit to connect low-income communities and communities of color to a higher quality of life. MHC's Innovation Fund work will incorporate the following components:


  • Development of healthy food access and/or healthy built environment projects at transit stops.
  • Engagement of traditionally underrepresented community members in transit and TOD planning processes.
  • Increased engagement of health professionals in transit and TOD planning processes.
  • Integration of health with MHC's other key issue areas.

Endeavor Foundation, Springdale, AR

Endeavor Foundation seeks to strengthen the health and vitality of their Northwest Arkansas communities through grantmaking and developing partnerships. For more information visit www.endeavorfoundation.net or www.energizenwa.org


Location: Springdale, AR


Endeavor Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to focus on policy and environmental change to support healthy eating and active living in Northwest Arkansas through a collaboration and grantmaking initiative—Energize Northwest Arkansas (EnergizeNWA). The initiative seeks to create environments where physical activity and healthy eating are easy, safe, affordable and accessible. The mission of Energize NWA is to create community-led change by working with local partners to build a supportive environment and culture that facilitates healthy eating and active living. Underlying the effort is a commitment to economic development, quality of life, obesity prevention, and benefiting underserved communities, especially the Marshallese and Hispanic communities in Northwest Arkansas. The proposed initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • Build the EnergizeNWA movement by sharing best practices and aligning diverse stakeholders around a common agenda and shared measurements to facilitate healthy eating and active living.
  • Provide capacity building funding to help Northwest Arkansas leaders conduct built environment assessments, identify and prioritize needs, and implement policies and other solutions to impact the health and well-being of their respective communities.
  • Provide funding for community partners to implement policy, environmental change and program solutions that make healthy eating and active living easy, safe, affordable and accessible.
  • Engage in fundraising to support and sustain EnergizeNWA.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice, Minneapolis, MN

Headwaters Foundation for Justice is a catalyst for social, racial, economic and environmental justice, using grantmaking to support grassroots groups addressing the root causes of injustice. For more information visit http://www.headwatersfoundation.org/


Location: Minneapolis, MN


The Headwaters Foundation for Justice was awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to expand its grantmaking and capacity building program through the Anchor Strategy for Movement Building. This initiative will connect grassroots organizing in low-income communities and communities of color with the policy and technical expertise necessary to convert individual campaigns into broader movements. Anchor organizations - established institutions that will help develop, connect and mobilize grassroots groups - will be awarded grants to bring coalitions together around a policy agenda and/or provide technical assistance so that smaller organizations can more successfully tackle local issues. The substantive focus of the work will be on transit equity and equitable development of the built environment. The initiative seeks to build the capacity of the social justice movement in Minnesota by investing in grassroots leadership and supporting strategic action. The proposed initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • Planning and strategy sessions, peer-led trainings, strategic campaign mentoring, and multi-year grantmaking.
  • Increased organizational capacity to work across issues and communities.
  • Expanded leadership capacity, particularly in communities of color.
  • An increase in the number of grassroots organizations connecting to and emerging in strategic campaigns that advance and change policies affecting communities historically excluded from resources and power.
  • Strategic investments of grant dollars among Minnesota's most successful community-based organizing and grassroots groups working together on multi-year issue campaigns.

Incarnate Word Foundation, St. Louis, MO

Incarnate Word Foundation supports community organizations that address the root causes of social issues with the goal of building healthy communities. For more information http://www.iwfdn.org/about/


Location: St. Louis, MO


Incarnate Word Foundation (IWF) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to launch a statewide project focused on coordinating community food access efforts and building the grassroots base for food access advocacy. The proposed initiative will incorporate the following components:


  • A planning period including convenings, key informant interviews with community members and policy leaders, and community gatherings to solicit information from community residents about needs in their neighborhoods.
  • An implementation phase, in which grants will be made to five targeted communities, representing urban and rural areas and with high poverty rates as well as food deserts. In each community, residents will design and implement policy and infrastructure priorities. The five communities also will participate in a learning community together.
  • The effort will be steered by a leadership team, which will include IWF, Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition, Missouri Convergence Partnership, and local matching funders.
  • An advisory board comprised of community members and nonprofit agency representatives from each target community, experts in food policy, food producers, University of Missouri Extension staff, regional food processors and distributors, anti-hunger organizations, and others will meet periodically to give input, react to ideas from the leadership team and to make recommendations.

Foundation for Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA

Foundation for Louisiana invests in people and practices that work to reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide. For more information visit http://www.foundationforlouisiana.org/


Location: Baton Rouge, LA


The Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant for the TOGETHER Initiative. TOGETHER's efforts will focus on community engagement in the redevelopment of the Claiborne Corridor, the site of a federally-funded Sustainable Communities Initiative and home to several low-income communities of color. Through three strategies, FFL and its funding partners seek to foster community involvement in decisions around issues such as transit-oriented development, affordable housing development, establishing or implementing community benefits agreements, and supporting community development tools that create long-term stewardship of public funding. TOGETHER's three strategies are:


  • A Leadership Academy to build the capacity of neighborhood leaders to advocate for their interests and influence policy-making. Participants will attend workshops such as Principles of Community Organizing, Advancing Community Agendas and Understanding Local Political Systems.
  • An Equity Caucus designed to develop cross-sector collaboration to support community groups in the creation of equitable and inclusive agendas that lead to policy change in the Claiborne Corridor.
  • Grantmaking to support promising citizen-led advocacy plans that emerge from the Equity Caucus. Grants will be citizen-led and focused, adhere to the values of TOGETHER, target the Claiborne Corridor, and have a policy focus.

San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Foundation mobilizes resources and acts as a catalyst for change to build strong communities, foster civic leadership, and promote philanthropy. For more information visit http://www.sff.org/ 


Location: San Francisco, CA


The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to launch a new food justice initiative called Healthy Food for All (HFA). HFA seeks to improve healthy food access in underserved neighborhoods through community leadership development, improving the built environment, and implementing policy initiatives. Through the HFA initiative, TSFF will work with community partners to:


  • Identify and engage community leaders and organizations in the Bay Area working on food justice and urban agriculture.
  • Expand the use of public land for urban agriculture in San Francisco.
  • Partner with city agencies to ensure that equity is embedded in San Francisco's new Urban Agriculture Program and to design, implement and catalogue two community-driven urban agriculture pilot projects in the Excelsior and Bayview neighborhoods.
  • Build a cohort of active community leaders and organizations from the Bayview and Excelsior neighborhoods focused on food justice and policy issues.
  • Conduct a needs assessment to develop a business plan to bring fresh, healthy, local food to low-income people and communities of color.
  • Map citywide and regional food-related policy initiatives, food justice projects and urban agriculture efforts to propose potential efficiencies and improvements.
  • Create a plan for an equitable, place-based urban agriculture program that is replicable and scalable.

Seattle Foundation, Seattle, WA

The Seattle Foundation's mission is to foster powerful and rewarding philanthropy to make King County a stronger, more vibrant community for all. For more information visit http://www.seattlefoundation.org/Pages/Default.aspx

Location: Seattle, WA


The Seattle Foundation (TSF) has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to focus more intentionally and publicly on an equity agenda and build deeper partnerships with communities and key stakeholders working to create opportunity for all residents. As part of this agenda TSF will launch the Center for Community Leadership –a virtual center that will facilitate opportunities for cross-sector, multi-issue problem solving and engage and build local leadership in communities most impacted by poverty and racial disparities. The Center will generate awareness of the importance of equity, and support projects, partnerships and initiatives that result in equitable policies and development within low-income and underrepresented communities, particularly communities of color. The Center will use strategies including grantmaking, convening, partnership building and advocacy to achieve two specific outcomes:


  • Increased capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to make community or systems-level changes that are inclusive and empowering of vulnerable populations; and
  • Creation of a venue to bring community members and groups, funders, and policymakers together across sectors to tackle systemic issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.


As part of the Center's kickoff, TSF will co-host a King County Equity Summit in partnership with King County government and the Regional Equity Network. This summit will bring together public and private sectors, community members, funders, donors and local issue experts to raise awareness and understanding of equity and to identify a common county-wide agenda and priorities for the Center's ongoing work.

Sierra Health Foundation, Sacramento, CA

The Sierra Health Foundation invests in and serves as a catalyst for ideas, partnerships and programs that improve health and quality of life in Northern California through convening, educating and strategic grantmaking. For more information visit http://www.sierrahealth.org/default.aspx

Location: Sacramento, CA

Sierra Health Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund to establish Communities Creating Health (CCH) an effort to create an alliance of organizations representing Sacramento's most disenfranchised racial, ethnic and cultural communities. CCH will create an organized cohort of community advocates with a shared agenda and strategies for reducing health disparities and promoting health equity. This effort leverages opportunities through the Healthy Sacramento Coalition (HSC), a program of Sierra Health that has grown out of Sacramento's Community Transformation Grant (CTG) (which is administered by the Foundation).


Anticipated outcomes of the project are to strengthen the local infrastructure of health equity advocates, establish a cross-community leadership coalition with multi-sector connections and influence, and ensure that communities of color are seen as essential partners in broader health coalitions. This will be achieved through the following strategies:


  • Supporting up to five organizations representing targeted communities (African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, Native American and LGBTQ) to implement community organizing strategies that build public will and support for identified health disparities, fully participate in the HSC and represent their communities, and act and advocate collectively.
  • Ensuring that policy and systems issues raised by the HSC consider the county's racial, ethnic and cultural diversity; that community generated ideas, aspirations and concerns are embedded into HSC's policy change efforts; and that HSC's work is connected to grassroots mobilization efforts in the communities most impacted by health inequity.

A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation, Duluth, MN

The A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation distributes grants to organizations that seek to advance progressive principles in human affairs, environmental degradation, and art – on a local, regional and global level. For more information visit http://www.zeppa.org/


Location: Duluth, MN


The A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation has been awarded a Convergence Innovation Fund grant to launch a brand new initiative with the following components:


  • An examination of the foundation's internal systems -- including purchasing and procurement and hiring practices -- and the purposeful integration of equity into business operations for both the foundation and its subsidiary ventures.
  • The creation of grantmaking guidelines that incorporate equity.
  • A grantmaking initiative that supports collaborative efforts and organizations focused on addressing food systems, active living, policy and systems change, and the built environment.
  • The creation of advisory committees of community partners and foundations that will help shape grantmaking criteria and priorities.
  • Engagement of the local funding community to participate in the initiative and learn about policy, systems, and environmental change work.
  • Work to transform the A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation into a leading local agency funding equity, policy, systems, and environmental change initiatives.