ReFED is excited to share that Letters of Intent are being accepted for the inaugural open call of the Catalytic Grant Fund, starting November 14, 2022. Announced in March, the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund is a five-year initiative targeted to provide nonprofit and for-profit organizations with up to a total of $20 million in grants to de-risk and scale both high-impact and high-potential solutions to food waste.
ReFED’s analysis demonstrates that $14 billion in annual funding is needed to accelerate and scale solutions in order to reach national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Of that total, $3 billion is needed in catalytic funding—capital that is patient, risk-tolerant, and flexible in order to unlock impact. In response to this need, the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund distributes recoverable and non-recoverable grants and will consider initiatives including, but not limited to, research, general operations, building capacity, developing technologies and pilots, and convenings, as well as provide non-financial support wherever possible. Additionally, the Catalytic Grant Fund is seeking to establish a diverse portfolio of grantees that are thoughtful about their own approaches to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, as ReFED believes this is critical to achieving our long-term goal of building a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system.
“Catalytic capital is critical to launching and scaling food waste solutions, as it tends to be the first money-in and has a multiplier effect that can stimulate larger amounts of future, more traditional sources of funding. It can also help overcome system-level barriers, de-risk new innovations, and solve agency problems, which some of the most promising solutions can face,” said Alexandria Coari, ReFED’s Vice President, Capital, Innovation, & Engagement. “We’re excited by the opportunity to provide both financial and non-financial support to help food waste solution providers scale their initiatives in an effort to reach our national goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.”
For this inaugural call, the Catalytic Grant Fund will focus on enabling consumers to actively reduce wasted food. Consumers are the largest generators of food waste, but there are existing solutions and innovations in need of funding that can enable them to actively reduce their food waste at home, as well as in restaurant and foodservice settings by making it obvious, affordable, and convenient.
The Catalytic Grant Fund and its grantees will work to have a significant impact on the diversion of food waste; reduction of GHG emissions; rescue of healthy, culturally-appropriate meals for those in need; and saving of natural resources. To bolster these solutions, the Catalytic Grant Fund seeks to support initiatives at a local, regional, and/or national level in a way that makes the solution financially viable for businesses while successfully reducing wasted food. This could include testing ways to reduce post-consumer plate waste — including managing portion sizes, the number one food waste opportunity as measured by GHG emissions avoidance with the greatest net financial benefit — or recycling solutions that make food waste diversion from landfills simple, convenient, and accessible for individuals in a way that supports proper management of the end product.
ReFED has responded to critical funding needs in the food system before by managing and deploying funding where it could have the most impact. In 2020, in response to the most immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the food system and food insecurity, ReFED launched its COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund to quickly deliver more than $3.5 million in vital philanthropic funding to for-profit and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. that could rapidly scale food waste reduction and hunger relief efforts. The Catalytic Grant Fund builds on that experience, while also leveraging ReFED’s expertise in food waste financing and its knowledge of the most impactful solutions.
Catalytic Grant Fund applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Must be applying on behalf of a benefit corporation, for-profit company, public-private partnership, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, or fiscally-sponsored project headquartered and/or operating in the U.S.
- As a result of receiving a grant from ReFED, must be very likely receive additional capital from other funders and/or advance its impact, often in a way that would not otherwise have been possible
- Must be able to put funding to eligible use at least $100,000 or more within a ~2-year grant period
- Must use the requested funding for an initiative related to the Grant Fund’s current thematic focus
Open Call Timeline
Independent Review Committee
Applications will be reviewed by the Grant Fund’s Independent Review Committee of experts ranging from capital providers to food business leaders, including: Charles Allison, Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Finance, The Milano School of Policy, Management, & Environment, The New School; Kelly Bryan, US Regional Director, Village Capital; Nick Budden, Founder & Innovation Strategist, Flavor Forward Strategy (Previously Yum! Brands); Andrea Collins, Sustainable Food Systems Specialist, Natural Resources Defense Council; Einav Gefen, SVP Chef Innovator, Restaurant Associates; Justin Kamine, Co-Founder, Do Good Foods; Rene Lion, Senior Consumer Scientist, Unilever; Anthony Myint, Co-founder, Zero Foodprint and Mission Chinese Food; Natalia Paine, Senior program Marketing Manager, Climate Culture RARE; Paula Reichel, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Partnership for a Healthier America; Jenny Roberts, Director of Procurement & Sustainability, CAVA; Brian Roe, Professor, Dept. of Agricultural, Environmental & Developmental Economics, Ohio State University; David T. Tswamuno, Managing Partner, Fairbridge Park; and Matt Wampler, CEO and Co-founder, ClearCOGS.
Interested applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by Wednesday, November 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. More details on selection criteria can be found at HERE.