The scope and immediacy of the complex issues facing food systems leaders can leave us so busy with the day-to-day demands of work that there is little time left over to assess how we work and how we can improve. Building organizational capacity often requires us to step away from our projects, from our grant proposals and our deadlines, and work with our teams to intentionally address how our organizations can work more effectively and systematically to create greater positive impact. This might entail calling in a little outside help, such as a seasoned professional, skilled facilitator, or subject matter expert. However, doing so usually requires an investment of financial resources, an investment that is impractical for many nonprofits.  

The Food Systems Leadership Network aims to increase the effectiveness of community-based organizations working across the food system by expanding their professional and leadership skills and resources.

Organizational Capacity-Building Mini-Grants provide funding of up to $1,000 to support organizations who wish to prioritize strategies for working with greater intention, effectiveness, equity, transparency, awareness, and joy. Grants will typically range from $500 - $1,000 and support the cost of organizational capacity-building activities. Priority is given to small, community-based organizations that are serving historically disinvested communities.

Examples of eligible activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Facilitated strategic planning sessions
  • Organizational training on racial justice
  • Team retreats
  • Coaching on team development and effective collaboration
  • Hiring consultants or subject matter experts to assist with projects such as:
    • Funding or communications strategies
    • Succession planning
    • Board development
    • Volunteer recruitment and community engagement
    • Monitoring and evaluation
    • Financial management

Application Requirements

  • Applicant organizations must be a participating member of the Food Systems Leadership Network
  • Applicants must be part of a nonprofit organization or have a fiscal sponsor
  • If you are seeking funding to procure professional services, you are required to upload documentation of the service provider's rate
  • Required documents:
    • Completed Simple Budget for organizational capacity building activities. You can download the Simple Budget Template here.
    • Completed Organizational Capacity Assessment document. You can download the OCAT here

It is recommended, but not required, that applicants provide matching funds of at least 33% of the total cost of associated activities. Organizations demonstrating match will be awarded up to 2 bonus points (out of a total 20 points) on the scoring rubric. Priority will be given to small, community-based organizations that are serving historically disinvested communities.

Application Instructions

To apply for the Organizational Capacity Building Mini-Grants, you will be asked to complete the online application and upload the two required documents when prompted in the application (Budget, OCAT). 

If you are awarded a grant, an Evaluation Report will be due two weeks after completion of the activity. All reports must be submitted by the final date of each grant period. You can download the Evaluation Report Template here.                

2018 Mini-Grant Application Schedule

  • Round 1: 
    • Application opens January 24 
    • Application closes at 11:59 PM Central Time on March 1
    • Grant activities between April 1 – July 31
  • Round 2: 
    • Application opens June 1 
    • Application closes at 11:59 PM Central Time on July 1
    • Grant activities between August 1 – December 31

Notification on the status of each Mini-Grant request will be sent by email to each applicant within two weeks of the application period closing date

Questions? Email with 'Mini-Grants' in the subject line.