Institutional Investment Accelerator

Institutional Investment Accelerator

The goal of the Institutional Investment Accelerator is to increase community wealth and power by providing resources and support to teams working to attract and leverage investment from institutions in their communities.

About this Project
The Institutional Investment Accelerator is aimed at catalyzing and increasing institutional investment in values-based supply chains to accelerate the development of more equitable food systems. Institutions have pivotal roles to play in shifting the structure of our regional food economies to be more just and resilient. For years, many institutions have committed to using their procurement dollars to address a variety of concerns, from rural farmer viability to the social determinants of health. These commitments often fall short due to the lack of an established pipeline of food and farm businesses to sell into their market channel.

The development of more equitable, regionalized food systems requires institutions to look beyond procurement commitments and actively invest resources in food and farm businesses that build community wealth. Businesses owned by people of color must be at the forefront of these wealth building strategies. These investments will help institutions  meet their purchasing commitments while  supporting the health and well-being of their communities. The Wallace Center is seeking to accelerate this practice by supporting a cohort of teams paired with advisors who have deep experience in institutional procurement, value chain coordination, financing food businesses and infrastructure, and developing cross sector partnerships. In addition to supporting these teams, Wallace Center will also be sharing learnings and best practices with the FSLN throughout the Accelerator.

Program Goals:

  • Promote community wealth and power building through investments in regional food systems and partnerships with anchor institutions 
  • Drive institutions to use their resources to address barriers in the supply chain that limit BIPOC-owned businesses’ ability to sell to institutions and foodservice management companies
  • Build capacity within community-based teams to leverage this investment
  • Support BIPOC-run organizations, businesses, and their partners to reach their own impact and financial goals
  • Create connections and build relationships among the teams, and between teams and the wider Food Systems Leadership Network

What we’ve learned on the way:

  • Check out this page to see three articles and three webinars where Wallace Center and partners explore examples and common themes in institutional investment in equitable food systems.

The Institutional Investment Accelerator includes six teams from different geographies across the US. Through the Accelerator, teams will build their capacity to attract and leverage institutional investment in a pipeline of food businesses. The goal of the Accelerator is to create space for teams to fast-track and hone their institutional investment projects in order to build community wealth.  

While they are working in different communities and contexts, all six teams are engaging institutions as key partners in their food systems change efforts, with an emphasis on building economic opportunity with and for Black-, Indigenous-, and other People of Color-owned food and farm businesses. For example, the Portland team hopes to better align the parallel farm-to-institution efforts in the Portland Metro Area and explore institutional investments, like using vacant hospital land for food production, that build the capacity and economic resiliency of BIPOC producers. You can learn more about the teams here.

  • BaltimoreA team of staff from the Black Church Food Security Network will improve supply chain logistics to link BIPOC farmers with Black churches in the mid-Atlantic.   
  • West Virginia—This team will leverage a new state law requiring 5% local purchasing at state institutions to ensure that the procurement supports small and marginalized farmers. 
  • Northwest Arkansas—The team from Arkansas is working to facilitate local procurement and attract more investment from hospitals to support BIPOC farmers. 
  • Chicago— This team is working to develop a racially and socially equitable regional food supply chain that can meet increasing institutional demand for good food, driven by the region’s Good Food Purchasing Policy.  
  • Denver—The Denver team is working to improve the supply chain for BIPOC farmers to ensure that the city’s Good Food Purchasing Policy contributes significantly to community wealth.  
  • Portland—The Portland-based team will be focused on building community wealth and greater economic resiliency among BIPOC food producers by leveraging hospital-owned land for food production.  

We are honored to partner with three advisors to provide guidance, technical input, and strategic oversight to the program and the teams. Each team will work closely with their advisor to define their goals for the accelerator, conduct a landscape analysis, and design and implement their strategy. The advisors are:

Haile Johnston

Haile Johnston

Lucia Sayre

Lucia Sayre

Pakou Hang

Pakou Hang

Haile Johnston—Haile, Co-Director and a founder of The Common Market, a nonprofit distribution enterprise that connects communities to good food from sustainable family farms. Haile will be working with the Denver and Baltimore teams.

Lucia Sayre— Lucia is the Director of Regional Innovation and Community Resilience for the Healthy Food in Health Care Program of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). Lucia will be working with the Chicago and West Virginia teams.

Pakou Hang— Pakou is a Co-Founder and former Executive Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association, a nonprofit located in Minnesota that works with Hmong farmers to build community wealth and health. Pakou will be working with the Northwest Arkansas and Portland teams.

Accelerator support

By participating in the Accelerator, teams will have access to: 

  • Mentorship and guidance from an expert advisor,  
  • $10,000 in funding per team to support team goals,  
  • Fully funded in-person and/or virtual leadership retreats and learning journeys,  
  • Group training and capacity-building opportunities, 
  • Peer to peer support from other teams, and 
  • The opportunity to utilize the Wallace Centers’ platform to increase awareness of their work and accomplishments. 

Over the course of the Accelerator, which will run from March 2021- July 2022, teams will participate in the following activities: 

  • Regular meetings with Advisor to check in on strategy, work through challenges, identify technical assistance needs, and make connections 
  • Monthly cohort calls with all teams to share common learnings, build peer-to-peer support, and identify collaborations 
  • Three in-person or virtual gatherings including our 2022 Conference to strengthen leadership skills, learn about best practices, and share their learnings  

Questions? Email [email protected] with ‘Accelerator’ in the subject line.