Announcing the 2015 RSF Seed Fund Grantees!

by Ellie Lanphier

Every spring, RSF provides small gifts to seed new initiatives that offer innovative solutions in the field of social finance, or address issues in one of our three focus areas – Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship. Thank you to all of our individual investors, donors, and staff members who make the RSF Seed Fund possible! We are pleased to announce the 2015 Seed Fund grantees:

Arc of Greater New Orleans_blog postArc of Greater New Orleans serves people with intellectual disabilities and delays from birth through adulthood in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes.

Arc provides a variety of social services to the community and also manages social enterprises which enable the organization to employ people with disabilities.

Arc’s Vintage Garden Nursery, which includes a 1,200 square foot state of the art greenhouse, two dozen large raised beds, and a 500 square foot arbor, recevied a $2,000 Seed Fund grant for its work growing native Lousiana plants and providing full-time employment to nine people with disabilities. The Vintage Garden Nursery is a part of Vintage Garden Farm, a nearly five acre mixed vegetable farm which supplies area farmers’ markets, local chefs, and Arc’s own healthy soup enterpise Vintage Garden Kitchen.


BK ROT_blog postBK ROT is a community-supported composting service that generates environmental jobs for Black, Latino, and Immigrant youth in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

BK ROT youth earn weekly stipends to collect organic waste from local residents and community institutions by bike, process the material, and manage compost sites. In 18 months of operation, four BK ROT youth have processed over 18 tons (36,000 lbs.) of local, organic waste, creating over two tons of finished compost. The service has created over $5,000 in youth stipends. The organization has grown from serving seven households to serving 85 unique households, positively impacting over 255 residents. Additionally, the program engages another 200 residents through the compost drop-off partnership at the Bushwick Food Coop.

The $2,500 Seed Fund grant will support BK ROT in creating a sustainable grassroots composting service that defines success as both centering on minority groups lacking access to positive green jobs and increasing community composting practices.


City Blossoms_blog postCity Blossoms in Washington, D.C. works with community-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and learning centers to create outdoor spaces where children and youth can use their creativity, intellect, and energy to grow and develop as future environmental stewards.

Since its incorporation in 2009, City Blossoms has designed, developed, and collaborated with partners to facilitate the creation of over 40 green spaces throughout Washington D.C., Baltimore City, and Philadelphia.

In 2012, City Blossoms partnered with Eastern Senior High School’s administration to create an on-site program that incorporated the schools’ existing but unused commercial grade greenhouse and garden. Since then, participating students have engaged in gardening techniques, agricultural practices, plant identification, composting processes, and water conservation.

A Seed Fund grant of $2,500 will support the creation of Mighty Greens, an urban agriculture-based cooperative created, owned, and maintained by 10th grade students at Eastern High School in Washington, D.C.


Fibershed_blog postFibershed develops regenerative textile systems that are based on carbon farming, regional manufacturing, and public education.

Fibershed envisions an international system of regional textile communities that enliven connection and ownership of ‘soil-to-soil’ textile processes. These diverse textile cultures are designed to build soil carbon stocks on the working landscapes on which they depend, while directly enhancing the strength of regional economies.

Fibershed received a $2,000 Seed Fund grant to support the emergence of a regional textile supply chain with a focus on sustainable farming practices and result in the first biodynamic cotton grown in the United States. The cotton would then be ginned, spun and sewn within the U.S.


NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative_blog postNYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative provides tools to cooperatively finance, acquire, and manage community space in New York City. Through continual education and outreach, the new organization aims to contribute to a movement for social finance and to prepare member-investors for long-term civic engagement.

The $1,000 Seed Fund grant will support a feasibility study and educational program on cooperative financing, acquisition, and management of land trust buildings for art, entrepreneurship, and ecology in New York City.


Planting Justice_blog postPlanting Justice in Oakland, CA is a grassroots organization with a mission to democratize access to affordable, nutritious food by empowering urban residents with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to maximize organic food production, expand job opportunities, and ensure environmental sustainability in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Their Transform Your Yard edible landscaping program trains and employs formerly incarcerated people, at-risk youth, and other economically disenfranchised community members to design and build permaculture gardens. The Re-Entry Green Jobs and Personal Transformation program, called Pathways to Resilience, provides holistic supportive services to men and women 18 years and older who have been released from prison or jail within the last three years. They are currently fundraising for Urban Aquaponics Farm and Incubation Center, their first commercial urban farm and training center.

Planting Justice received a $1,000 Seed Fund grant to support the creation of jobs for formerly-incarcerated adults in Oakland.


Shepherd Valley Waldorf School_blog postShepherd Valley Waldorf School in Niwot, CO, seeks to educate children for the whole of life. By using the curriculum and principles of Waldorf Education, the students become confident individuals, capable of making free choices, able to realize their full potential, and inspired to make a difference in the world.

The school sits on 22 acres of agriculturally zoned land, providing students with year-round exploration and connection to the rhythm of seasons and the joys of nature.

RSF awarded a Seed Fund grant of $1,000 to support their farming initiative that will provide educational opportunities to the students, investment opportunities for the community, an income stream for the school, and rejuvenation for the land.


Transform Finance_blog postTransform Finance builds a just world by making capital a force for real transformative change. They seek to do this by building a bridge between the worlds of finance and social justice, leveraging their collective power to realize the true promise of impact investment.

Transform Finance supports investors, entrepreneurs, and social justice leaders who seek to turn capital and entrepreneurship into tools for positive social change. They believe that finance can be truly transformative and can work as an additional resource in a social justice toolbox.

Transform Finance believes that for capital to be truly transformative, two things need to happen simultaneously: finance practitioners need to engage with a social justice approach, and social justice practitioners need to engage with the world of finance. The $2,500 Seed Fund grant awarded will support training and coaching for social justice leaders and activists to enable them to engage in social entrepreneurship and take advantage of impact investing.

Ellie Lanphier is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services.

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