Anchor institutions – large, usually nonprofit organizations that play a vital role in their local communities – can be incredible assets and resources for building more equitable food systems and flourishing communities. Over the years, numerous institutions, particularly within the educational and healthcare systems, have committed to using their purchasing power to address a variety of concerns, from rural farmer viability to the social determinants of health. However, these commitments often fall short due to the lack of an established pipeline of food and farm businesses that have the capacity to navigate institutional regulatory policies and sell into these lucrative market channels.
Through the Institutional Investment Accelerator, the Wallace Center provided six teams from across the country with a dedicated advisor, training, technical assistance, and financial resources to develop, strengthen, and advance anchor institutions’ capacity for investing in local and regional food and farm businesses. All teams reported learning and applying new skills to their work and that they feel more equipped to advance racial equity within their work. Several organizations have since received large grants to continue their institutional investment work, including several federal Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) grants, which they attribute to their participation in this accelerator.
Years Active: 2019 – 2022