What is the Community First Grant Program?

The Community First Grant Program is a new Whole Cities Foundation initiative designed to support Team Members who are actively engaged with community partners that increase fresh, healthy food access in neighborhoods with few options.  

To download this FAQ page, click here.

To download a one-pager about the program, click here.

To watch a short video about the program, click here.

How will it work?

The program has a simple two-step application process:

  1. A Team Member completes a Community First Application in support of a community partner focused on fresh food access in their city.
  2. If the Team Member’s application is selected, then the community partner completes a Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant Application. 

Whole Cities Foundation will offer support and resources to selected Team Members and will provide grants ranging from $5,000-$15,000 to their qualified community partners.

How do I apply?

  1. Talk with the community partner you are recommending, let them know about the program and ask if they are interested. You can find a 1-page summary of the program that you can share with your community partner here. You can also find a letter you can tailor and share with your community partner to invite them to participate in the program here.  
  2. Make sure that you can answer “yes” to all of the eligibility requirements below before applying.
  3. Ask your Store Team Leader to complete the STL Support Form (found here) and send it to grants@wholecitiesfoundation.org by Wednesday, June 1. 
  4. Start the application here. Tell us about yourself, your team, your store, your city, and the community partner you are recommending. You will need to create a login and password to access the application. You can save your application and come back to it before completing.
  5. Complete your application by 5:00pm CT on Wednesday, June 1.

What is the applicaiton timeline?

April 20:  Team Member Community First Application opens

June 1:  Team Member Application and STL Support Form due

July 1:  Notification sent to Team Member applicants

Team Members will be notified if their application has been selected.
If selected, your community partner will complete a Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant Application. To see examples of qualified community partners click here

Aug 15:  Community partner Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant Application due

This application will include questions regarding the community partner’s mission, programs, leadership, impact, community engagement, sustainability, and finances. Before you select a community partner, please see examples of qualified community partners by clicking here

Sept 30:  Notification sent to community partner applicants

Community partners will be notified if they qualify for a grant. Team Member applicants will receive notification if their community partners have been approved.  

Who can apply?

All of the eligibility requirements can be found at the beginning of the Team Member application they include:

Team Members

  • Must be a current WFM Team Member in good standing
  • Must have support from Store Team Leader or regional leadership as detailed in the STL support form
  • Must be able to volunteer personal time to their recommended community partner outside of working hours at WFM
  • Must complete a Community First Application by Wednesday, June 1. 

Community Partners

  • Must be a 501c3 nonprofit organization
  • Must focus on expanding fresh, healthy food access to families and neighborhoods with limited options
    • WCF supports community partners who are locally led with leadership that reflects and engages those being served. We support community partners that strengthen self-reliance and self-determination. 
    • We generally do not support food banks and other projects that rely primarily on packaged foods.
    • For examples of qualified community partners, please click here.
  • Must complete a Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant Application
    • This simple application will include questions regarding the community partner’s work, leadership, impact, community engagement, long-term plans, and finances. 

Do other Team Members need to be involved with the community partner for me to apply?

We have seen amazing results when Team Members work collectively with community partners. Only one Team Member needs to complete the application, however, projects are more successful when multiple people are involved. It is important that Team Members are not pressured into volunteering and that they understand that WFM and WCF will not provide compensation for the time they spend volunteering.

Can individual Team Members receive funding from Whole Cities Foundation?

No. We do not award grants to individuals. However, a nonprofit organization led by a Team Member would be eligible to apply for funding.

Does my community partner have to be a 501c3 nonprofit organization?

WCF can only award grants to qualified 501c3 nonprofit organizations. However, if an exceptional and innovative organization is connected to a fiscal agent that has 501c3 status, there are options we can consider. 

What if our team wants to volunteer for a community partner but needs help finding one that is a good fit?

In this case, fill out the Community First Application and type “looking for community partner” in the “Community Partner’s Name” field. Please tell us about the kind of community partner you are looking for in the field “Please briefly describe your community partner's mission, project activities and goals.” WCF may be able to offer support with finding a good fit.

What if my Team Member application is selected but the community partner I recommend does not qualify or is not a good fit for Whole Cities?

If your application is selected, Whole Cities will work with you to find a community partner who will be a good fit for your passion and Whole Cities’ mission.

What is a “community partner”?

A community partner is a nonprofit organization that is led by community members in your city. A community partner understands the assets, needs, and goals of local residents and uses this knowledge to direct and shape its work. For examples of qualified community partners, click here.

Why do I need my STL to complete a form?

Projects thrive when multiple Team Members are engaged. Your STL or Team Leader needs to be aware and supportive of you involving other interested Team Members in your community partner’s project. It is important that Team Members are not pressured into volunteering and understand that WFM and WCF will not compensate for volunteer time.

Can Team Members outside the United States apply?

Unfortunately, no. This opportunity is only available in the United States at this time. 

Can Team Members who work outside the stores complete a Community First Application?

Yes! We welcome applications from all Team Members located in the US who meet the eligibility requirements. If you do not work in a store, please have your team leader complete the STL Support Form.