In an effort to assess and understand the collective impact of its funding, the Levitt Foundation prepared this description of its grantmaking focus, desired outcomes, and indicators of success. We ask all potential and current grantees to use this framework as a guide, choosing some appropriate indicators of success as they write their grant proposals and report their progress. These indicators are a work in progress, and comments and suggestions from grantees and other colleagues are invited and welcome.
Focus: Youth-Powered Food Justice
In 2012 Levitt Foundation conducted an environmental scan of New York City neighborhoods. Moved by the food inequities in low-income neighborhoods, obesity and high rates of diabetes and other food-related diseases among children, as well as the lack of opportunities for young people to build their confidence and leadership abilities while benefiting their own neighborhoods, the board of Levitt Foundation decided to focus entirely on youth-led food justice initiatives in low-income neighborhoods that face significant food inequities and lack access to affordable nutritious food.
Following is a description of the youth-powered food justice programs the Foundation funds.
- Out-of-school time programs and campaigns
- In the five boroughs of New York City
- That empower young people ages 6 to 18 to:
- Learn about healthy eating and food systems and
- Take action to increase access to affordable fresh/nutritious foods in their own neighborhoods and
- Build connections and influence beyond their own neighborhoods and
- Bolster their confidence and self-esteem, citizenship skills and leadership abilities
Levitt Foundation grantees’ youth-powered initiatives engage young people in food justice activities in their neighborhoods. Those funded include urban farming, farmers’ markets, cooking, bodega partnerships, counter-marketing campaigns, community organizing and advocacy to change public policies and practices. Most grantees use youth engagement and youth organizing strategies.
Following are examples of outcomes the Foundation desires to achieve, as well as indicators of success:
- Children and youth learn about food systems and practice healthy eating behaviors
- Increase in knowledge and understanding of good nutrition
- Increase in frequency of choices to eat vegetables and fruits
- Increase in ability to prepare healthy foods
- Increase in knowledge and understanding of food systems that affect their own neighborhoods (e.g. retail grocery stores, farms, urban agriculture, farmers markets, food hubs, transportation, school meals, summer feeding programs)
- Increase in advocacy for food justice
- Number of community gardens or urban farms producing food
- Number of farmers markets selling affordable fresh produce
- Number of pounds of fresh affordable food sold or donated to neighborhood people
- Dollar value of fresh foods sold using government-subsidized programs like SNAP, Health Bucks, etc.
- Number and percent increase in children and youth eating at summer feeding programs
- Number and percent increase in children and youth eating free school-year lunches
- Number of community people who buy at farmers markets, and who attend cooking demonstrations and other food-focused events
- Expand social networks (e.g. teach and exchange information and experiences with their peers from other youth-powered food justice programs, as well as food systems stakeholders, policymakers, food producers, and others from different cultures, races, ethnicities, economic levels)
- Expand influence (e.g. serve as spokespeople in the media, meet with elected and appointed public officials, and participate in public meetings and hearings)
- Improve public policies and practices (e.g. universal free school lunch in public schools)
- Increase in confidence to stand in front of a group, ask questions, and make presentations (e.g. teaching others, conducting garden tours and neighborhood food surveys, doing cooking demonstrations, etc.)
- Increase in citizenship skills (e.g. community organizing, advocacy, participation in public meetings, understanding of political/budget/rule-making processes)
- Increase in other life skills (e.g. sales and customer service, advertising, marketing research, urban farming, cooking)
- Increase in pro-social behaviors like setting goals, avoiding risky behaviors, and making future-oriented decisions