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University of Minnesota Extension

Action Learning Seed Fund

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Is this opportunity right for you?

Are you passionate about creating a healthy food system for everyone? Have you struggled in the past to access resources to support your work? Are you looking for funding that provides the flexibility needed to create real community change? Do you want to deepen connections across difference (race, geography, sector, etc)? Are you excited to share your knowledge and ideas with new people who also care about creating a healthier food system?  If so, read on!

*Please note: Well resourced organizations need not apply.

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What do we hope to achieve together?

We hope to come together with people working to support communities most impacted by inequities in the food system to generate ideas, connections and action to ensure healthy food access for all. Our approach integrates learning, networking, and funding in a unique and powerful way, where participants act as agents of change and not merely recipients of aid or expertise. Our grantmaking process emphasizes the power of flexible funding and idea-centered investing.

Who are we and what is our role?

We represent the University of Minnesota Extension’s Health and Nutrition Program. Our mission is to improve food literacy, physical activity, and healthy food access for Minnesotans to promote health and reduce disparities using University resources and proven educational and engagement strategies. We fulfill our mission by engaging with Minnesotans, in part through our role in the Minnesota Food Charter Network. We will support the Action Learning Seed Fund by co-creating four online convenings for shared learning and action among participants. We will offer flexible seed funding to participants to support work in the communities where it is needed the most. We will design a process to distribute this funding in which participants are empowered to be the grantmakers and will make the final decision about how funds are allocated among those participating in the funding experience. We greatly value transparency and are happy to discuss any questions or ideas about this endeavor.

What do we ask from you?

We ask you to share your brilliance and support others to see, think, and work in new ways. We hope you embrace that everyone has gifts, passions, and values that we can all share with one another. We ask for your open minded and full participation in each online convening. For the project funding component, we are seeking proposals that will:

  • Create a healthier and more equitable food system

  • Demonstrate significant leadership from black, indigenous and/or people of color

  • Build new connections across communities, organizations, networks, etc.

  • Bridge differences such as race, geography, sector, perspective, etc.

What about the budget?

Project funding will be allocated through a shared gifting process. Learn more about shared gifting by watching a 4 minute video or reading an article, but please note this unconventional process is best understood through direct experience. It is critical to understand that your project funds will be based on an amount gifted to you by other applicants. We encourage budgets to be between $500 and $5000. The final amount awarded to you will very likely differ from the amount you originally propose so it's important to be adaptable. For this reason, and to encourage creative thinking, we are intentionally not providing a budget template or specific budget requirements.

What are your next steps?

By November 1st, prepare a simple proposal that does not require more than three hours of your time. This could take the form of a video, a one-pager, or something completely unique like a lyric poem, etc. Upload your proposal here.  Please address:

  • What you want to do and how you will do it

  • How you intend to positively impact the food system

  • New bridges and connections you expect will result from the project

  • How the funding will be used

In December 2018, participants will come together online  to share project ideas and invest the $25,000 in one another’s work. In 2019, participants will implement their projects and convene online four times for two hours each (for a total of 8 hours).


Please contact one or all of us! — Stephanie Heim (507-252-6520, heim0106@umn.edu), Jamie Bain (612-239-5571, jbain@umn.edu) or Noelle Harden 218-280-5253, harde073@umn.edu

We'd like to thank the Leadership Learning Community for allowing us to use and adapt elements of their Action Learning Seed Fund Application for this proposal.

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