Launching ETC Impact

Eat the Change™ is a movement whose mission is bigger than any one sector. While the intersection of activism and entrepreneurship is at the core of our mission, we know that nonprofit organizations at the national level as well as groups on the ground at the community level play a vital role in sparking change. That’s why Eat the Change™ began in summer 2020 with the ETC Impact grants program – while we were sautéing mushrooms and experimenting with flavors in our test kitchen, we were also connecting with inspiring groups across the country.

The ETC Impact program is granting a total of $1 million over three years to organizations we call Changemakers, that work to inspire people to make the connection between climate change and the foods we eat every day. There are a still a lot of people who don’t know about the carbon footprint of animal-based foods, and there are also significant structural barriers at play when it comes to accessing affordable, organic, plant-based foods.

For these reasons, ETC Impact emphasizes four core values – Eating with Intention, Fact-Based Science, Democratizing Access, and Innovation– and prioritizes work that makes a meaningful difference in the areas of plant-based eating, food waste reduction, organic and biodiverse agriculture, improved water efficiency, and sustainable packaging.

Our grants program has two stages. In the outreach stage, the key challenge is reaching our target audience so that the right organizations hear about the opportunity and can efficiently apply. This can be difficult because smaller community nonprofits may not have the time or bandwidth to learn of national grant opportunities, so we lean into newsletters, listservs, and word-of-mouth. We received more than 120 applications in our first cycle and look forward to even broader outreach this year.

During the selection stage, we try to make thoughtful decisions when sorting through so many worthy initiatives. To that end, we diligently review every application in multiple stages. As a first screen, we assess each application’s alignment with the ETC Impact values and focus areas. After that, we place a heavy emphasis on each organization’s position within its community. We ask all applicants to explain how the community they serve is involved in the design and implementation of the organization’s work, because we know that community engagement and having the right messenger make all the difference when it comes to credibility, trust, and behavior change. Finally, we conduct calls or site visits with the finalists and take a portfolio approach in regard to the ultimate selections. This ensures the final group of Changemakers is diverse across a variety of dimensions, including geography, target community, size and focus area.

As a result, we landed on a phenomenal group of 32 Changemaker organizations in our first grant cycle – 21 working in individual communities and 11 at the national level. We are thrilled to support their efforts to create positive change for people and the environment across the country. You can read the organizational profiles at eathechange.org and check out the “Changemaker Voices” segments on our blog to learn more about their inspiring work!

Applications for the next ETC Impact grant cycle will open at eatthechange.org in March 22, 2021.

Authors:

Julie Farkas, Co-Founder of ETC Impact, is a social entrepreneur who has launched and scaled both nonprofit and for-profit businesses. From founding an employment program for homeless people to co-founding Honest Tea and PLNT Burger, Julie has been involved in creating solutions that improve the lives of individual people as well as the health of communities.

Corey Baron, Program Officer for ETC Impact, is a lifelong learner and lover of the natural world. Corey is currently pursuing an MBA with a focus on social enterprise, and is passionate about innovative efforts at the intersection of social inequity and climate change.


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