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NRDC Funds CLP Youth to Compost in Montbello

A shortened version of the original post is showcased below while the original post can be found here.

"Last June, NRDC announced a partnership with the City and County of Denver as part of a bold effort—Denver’s Food Action Plan 2020. The Food Action Plan is a forward-thinking program written to fulfill the goals set forward in the broader framework of the Denver Food Vision. The Food Action Plan seeks to make the vision an accomplishable reality for Denver residents by setting goals to reduce the number of food insecure households by 55 percent, and to cut the volume of food waste in residential garbage collection by 57 percent citywide by 2030.

Today, we are pleased to announce the expansion of NRDC’s partnership with Denver to fight food waste. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, we are providing grants to 10 local Denver businesses and non-profits, whose ongoing work will contribute to the achievement of our goals to reduce food waste in the city. Below is a list of our awardees—congratulations to these incredible groups!

The expertise of our organization is in engaging and supporting youth, educators, and communities to innovate ways of changing waste and consumption patterns in the classroom, in our backyards, and everyday life. The Nearly Zero Project is a product of CLP’s work with over 350 youth across 7 schools in Denver and Jefferson County teaching about the environment through food and compost.  CLP’s innovative programming facilitates an active learning environment, co-creating change with youth, and holding the space for them to have voice and hands in the process of making these shifts in the culture of their schools and communities. Food Matters Funds will help to fully fund the Nearly Zero Project and allow experts to educate in classrooms at Academy 360 starting this spring.

With $100,000 in funding in-total, the ten grant recipients we’re announcing today will help build and strengthen local nonprofits and mission-driven small businesses that focus on advancing three areas identified by NRDC’s assessment. This includes:

  • Wasted Food Prevention: Efforts to reduce or eliminate excess food at the source, including improved inventory management, repurposing of surplus food, and alternatives to the underlying causes of food going to waste.

  • Food Rescue: Efforts to maintain or expand donation of nutritious foods, make rescued foods more accessible in the most underserved neighborhoods and to people with disabilities, and strengthen the operational efficiency and responsiveness of the food rescue system.  

  • Food Scrap Recycling: Efforts to expand or improve the infrastructure devoted to composting and/or anaerobic digestion processing and collection, including education and recruitment targeting food scrap generators.

A critical element of NRDC’s Food Matters project is a commitment to equitable, transparent, and mutually-beneficial partnerships with Denver-based organizations. In an effort to run an inclusive and transparent grant-making process, we sought the counsel of equity and human-centered design experts from Weav Studio. Weav Studio’s operating philosophy is that those closest to a societal problem are best-equipped with the knowledge and experience to define the solution. With Weav, we asked the local community partners who ultimately applied for the funding to also help design the project goals, the size and type of the grants awarded, and to contribute input on the selection process. Along the way, we learned invaluable insights from stakeholders, local advocacy organizations, last-mile food pantry organizations, food rescue organizations, neighborhood organizations, community gardens, urban farms, churches, and community resource centers.

Through these conversations, we learned that increased transparency in the grant-making process was of highest importance to our community partners and stakeholders. With little time and staff capacity, folks told us that the decision to apply for funding often came down to their determination of their actual likelihood of receiving the funding, but the determination was made in the dark—they felt that they lacked a real baseline or context for making that determination. Our goal was to build a diverse and robust application pool for our selection process, so we designed and made public our scoring rubric for applicants. Potential applicants could then see exactly how they would be scored and how these scores were weighted. Moreover, we asked two community partners who work closely and deeply in our focus areas, but who weren’t applying for funding, to serve on our selection committee.

Our effort to make our selection process transparent reflects our commitment to the challenge our grantees will endeavor to solve with their work. We believe that food waste is but one component of a bigger, worldwide problem, which is among the greatest we face today as a society.

Our global food system is built to maximize profit and production over health and natural resources. It is failing to nourish the world and failing to preserve our planet for future generations. Given the enormity of those obstacles, where do we begin? The answer is in our own cities, local businesses and backyards.

Identifying problems is easier than solving them. That’s why we are so excited to announce our winners, and support this robust community of organizations selected from an extraordinary group of applicants."

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