HOPE Collaborative works to achieve community and policy change to promote the health and well-being of the most vulnerable families and youth throughout Oakland. HOPE works at a number of levels to facilitate community-driven change, including sustainable and equitable food systems; healthy and safe environments; and community engagement and leadership development. The Collaborative fosters a number of strategic partnerships throughout the Bay Area to drive bottom-up policy change for its communities.
As part of their ongoing program to develop more equitable food systems, HOPE selected Urbane Development to reimagine healthy retail options in East and West Oakland. To understand the landscape of neighborhood grocery, Urbane developed a series of surveys capturing store’s physical plant, financials, and operations then worked with HOPE to train community leaders who surveyed over 80 stores in the area. The team recognized that, unlike traditional healthy retail programs that focus on fresh produce or value added items, the Oakland model should focus on prepared foods, including grab-and-go or made-to-order options. The goal was to find a strategy that simultaneously combats reliance on fast food and brings healthy food to the area.
Six stores were selected as pilots in which to implement the comprehensive healthy retail program. Each store was partnered with a community organization intended to provide financial support, as well as a platform for community engagement and customer loyalty.
During the second phase, Urbane worked with HOPE to develop subcontractor RFPs (architects, construction services, and operational technical assistance providers) for the renovation of new and existing stores. Additionally, two of the pilot stores were selected for a larger intervention and moved into new, vacant spaces. These stores underwent a rigorous on-site assessment; the finances of each were examined, including tax returns, financial pro forma documents, and financial models.
To ensure the longevity of the store and healthy retail programs, Urbane is developing full business plans for the selected two stores. In addition to a full business plan, Urbane provided financial modeling, market analysis, and assessment of the lease offer, ultimately assisting with the negotiation for the new space.
Urbane focused their work on the design of financing mechanisms that can support the stores in the long-term, including a 1:1 match program. Through the 1000 Churches Connected Program, HOPE plans to leverage church-based communities around community development investing. HOPE also strengthened its connection with the Kiva Zip Program in Oakland, a person-to-person lending platform.
Urbane continues to partner with HOPE, providing consulting services and facilitating community engagement, as the collaborative expands its Healthy Corner Store Initiative.