W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The WK Kellogg Food and Fitness Shared Learning Lab occurred over a three-day period from July 29 – 31, 2015. Representatives from Brooklyn, Oakland, and Detroit, in addition to a number of financial experts, attended the convening as a way to build on the 2014 gathering; share insights and best practices, and identify an area of focus that all three sites could implement locally. Workshops held during the convening were centered on issues of community ownership, workforce development, and policy, all of which were discussed through the lens of racial inequality.

In preparation, Urbane Development visited each site and met with local stakeholders to identify the current state of programming, assess priority areas of focus, and examine consistent themes between each site. Urbane identified workforce development as a common, albeit variable, challenge for all three sites. The gathering provided an opportunity to reopen the dialogue around workforce development.

From the gathering, four potential points of synergy emerged. First, stakeholders identified a need to build community ownership of land, infrastructure, and fixed assets with any eye towards helping small business owners with technical assistance, capital for investment, and mitigating the effect of gentrification on longtime residents. Second, the group identified an opportunity to build out the infrastructure and support for producer cooperative infrastructure, linking different parts of the food system in the business value chain to gain name recognition and to ensure scalability.

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Third, the group found common ground on job creation and workforce development initiatives as a means to promote job growth and promote good food jobs in the food system. The group highlighted opportunities to assist community members in building hard skills and apply them in the formal economy, as well as helping community members identify career pathways in the food system. Finally, the group identified policy as a main point of intervention in the food system, citing the need to leverage policy advocacy, formation, and implementation to achieve a stronger food system in these cities.

Urbane continues to work closely with the Kellogg Foundation, as well as representatives from each city and partner institution to push forward the key issues identified during the conference.