This post outlines how I obtained grant funding to do what I love (teach free vegan cooking classes to low-income groups) and how you can too!
Network with Likeminded People
At a Forks Over Knives screening, I met an attendee who is a board member of Mission Hill Health Movement (MHHM), a non-profit organization that focuses on the health and quality of life for Boston residents. He was interested in my experience teaching vegan cooking classes.
Present your Idea
I presented a proposal for vegan cooking classes to MHHM board members and shared the following information:
- Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some cancers disproportionately effect underserved populations and they can be prevented with appropriate diet.
- My goal is to debunk common myths about vegan cuisine by teaching participants that it can be health promoting, nutritionally adequate, delicious, satisfying, inexpensive and easy to prepare.
- Vegan cooking classes could help to meet MHHM’s mission.
Ask for Introductions to Other Partners
MHHM was eager to form a partnership and willing to provide some funding. They introduced me to a variety of potential host organizations. Ultimately, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard (RTH), a low-income housing development offered to host a series of five, free, two-hour cooking classes in their kitchen. RTH offered to provid some funding towards the cost of running the program, now named “Jazz Up Your Veggies” (JUYV).
Find a Partner
Rich Roll, plant-based ultra endurance athlete, says, “pursue what’s in your heart and the universe will conspire to support you.” That was certainly the case when it came to meeting my program partner Annie. Newly graduated from PCRM’s Food For Life program, she had reached out to my contact at MHHM with the hope of finding leads for teaching cooking classes. He introduced us and I was thrilled to have her join me. She’s become a great friend, teaching partner and is instrumental in the success of our program. I can’t imagine JUYV without her.
Design the Curriculum
Together Annie and I chose four recipes per class that were simple to prepare, delicious, require no fancy appliances or expensive ingredients. Our target was to share recipes that would allow participants to eat vegan on $5/day. Here’s our flyer:
Prepare Pre and Post Program Surveys
One of our main goals was to design and deliver a program that proved that attitudes and behaviors can be changed. The surveys were very helpful for tracking these changes. Survey results provide compelling data for measuring success, modifying the program and attracting future funders.
Reach out to Local Establishments for Donations
With the sponsorship from the two non-profits MHHM and RTH, we were able to solicit donations to cover the costs of food and supplies. Supermarkets in particular were very enthusiastic about supporting our program and they donated generously.
What a blast! We loved the group. Here they are:
Analyze Survey Results
Based on our pre- and post-survey findings, we learned, among other things, that 100% of participants’ diets improved, 69% of participants decreased consumption of animal products, 100% of the participants’ knowledge about the nutritional and health benefits of plant-based foods improved and 100% of the participants would recommend the program to others.
Apply for Funding
Research to find out which foundations might be interested in funding your classes. I searched the web for foundations with a variety of different missions including a focus on improving the health of the underserved and educating the public about health and nutrition. Design your grant applications to meet the requirements of the foundations’ requests for proposals and be sure to include survey data. Ultimately, we applied for a grant from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation to teach our JUYV healthy cooking program. We were beyond thrilled and very grateful to receive almost $20k to teach 12 cooking classes!
If you are interested in learning more about obtaining grant funding or teaching JUYV classes, please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you!
With warmest wishes,