The FARE planning process revealed a high demand for funding and a need for increased engagement of grassroots and often overlooked organizations and individuals. In response, FARE distributed $145,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation directly to 21 funded partners for a period between March and December 2017. Match funds were provided by Saint Luke’s Foundation and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.
FARE Advisors developed criteria for the mini-grants and nominated more than 50 people and groups. Ultimately, 21 nominees were invited to apply. FARE used a simple Request for Proposals (RFP) process and provided in-depth technical assistance to ensure that everyone who was nominated ended up receiving funds. Funded partners represented community-based urban gardens, farmers markets, nutrition education and youth entrepreneurship programs, faith-based centers and more. 16 grants were made at the $5,000 level, four at the $12,500 level (matched to total $25,000 each), and one at $15,000 for a farmers market collective made up of 12 markets
FARE staff visited each funded partner to provide hands-on help, learn about their needs, and conduct a Social Network Analysis survey. Grantees formed connections to each other and other stakeholders and content experts, and FARE spread the word about their work through social media and other national networks. Several funded partners joined FARE’s advisory board and are now guiding the project. Funded partners attended FARE convenings, presented about their work, and served as co-facilitators. The mini-grant process helped to increase the representation and inclusion of community-based perspectives within the FARE network.