$100,000 Funding Opportunity for BIPOC-Led and BIPOC-Serving Composters

Date: 1 Mar 2024 | posted in: Composting | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

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Find the press release here.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is launching a BIPOC Community Composter Mini-Grant Program to support new or existing local community composters in coastal states in New England. Programs seeking funding must be BIPOC-led or BIPOC-serving, in a Native Nation, or working in a historically excluded neighborhood. We will provide $100,000 in sub-grants to selected projects, awarding up to 10 grants with a minimum grant of $5,000 and a maximum of $20,000. This new opportunity is made possible by 11th Hour Racing’s grant program, funded by The Schmidt Family Foundation.

In addition to funding, awardees will receive virtual hot composting training, a travel stipend to attend the 8th National Cultivating Community Composter Forum in Cleveland, Ohio, in October 2024, and access to ILSR’s Community Composter Coalition, a network of community composters that builds connections, spreads lessons learned and inspires new operations. 

Several New England states have enacted legislation to divert food waste from disposal, mainly targeting large food waste generators. While abundant resources are available to assist supermarkets and other food waste generators in meeting these regulations, there is a notable lack of support for schools, community gardens, and urban farms in historically excluded neighborhoods to establish a local circular economy. This program addresses this disparity by providing limited resources and guidance to fill this gap.

We will abide by our Equity Principles Guide to steer our decision-making and help ensure equity, justice, and inclusion support our mini-grant funding decisions.

How to Apply: 

BIPOC-led or BIPOC-serving programs, Native Nations, or those working in historically excluded neighborhoods. 

Projects must fund new or existing local community composting initiatives.

Applicants must reside within a New England coastal state. These are:

  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island

Example groups include community gardens, congregations, educational institutions (e.g., schools), farms, food co-ops, food scrap collection service providers, for-profits, governmental institutions, Native Nations, non-profits, worker-owned co-ops, and more.

The application will open on March 4th, 2024, and close on April 7th, 2024

APPLY HERE to submit an application via Google Forms or submit a video. 

Candidates should allot about 20 to 30 minutes when applying. The Google Forms application will automatically save your responses. However, you must log in to start and return to the application.

For technical difficulties or questions about the mini-grant program or application, please email najee@ilsr.org.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Composting is the controlled aerobic decomposition of raw organic materials (such as food scraps and dry leaves) via fungi, bacteria, and other microbes in order to create compost, a dark, crumbly, earthy smelling soil amendment. Community composting is a model of composting that sources organic materials locally, engages the community in the composting process, and uses the compost produced in local soils. To learn more about community composting, download our Composting 101 Guide and check out our videos for EPA highlighting the benefits.
  • Community composters make and use compost within the same community where wasted food and other organic materials are generated. Their distinguishing feature is keeping the process and product as local as possible while engaging the community through participation and education. Local composting circulates dollars in the community, promotes social inclusion and empowerment, greens neighborhoods, builds healthy soils, supports local food production and food security, sustains local jobs, and strengthens the local workforce’s skills. Community-scale composting plays a crucial role in addressing environmental justice concerns. It offers an alternative to landfills and incinerators that have disparate impacts on BIPOC and low-income individuals. Additionally, community composting can strengthen capacity in historically excluded neighborhoods while promoting social engagement and connectivity.

  • Our Equity Principles Guide was informed by the Soul Fire Farm Equity Guidelines for Donors and Foundations and the Community Wealth Partners Making Capacity Building More Equitable guide. We wrote this document to guide our decision-making and help ensure equity, justice, and inclusion support our mini-grant funding decisions.
  • We commit to undergoing a fair and impartial process. We aim to genuinely support historically excluded communities. We will achieve this by adopting a capacity-building approach in our collaboration with grantees. This step involves cultivating community scale and on-farm composters who engage residents, promote social inclusion and empowerment, build healthy soils, improve local food production and food security, sustain local jobs, and strengthen the local workforce’s skills. We aim to minimize bias, reduce disparities, and be inclusive. Frontline organizations serve communities experiencing environmental racism, which includes BIPOC and low-income individuals. We want to help these organizations without assuming we know what is best for their communities.
  • Additionally, BIPOC advisors outside the organization will decide on the awardees.
  • We anticipate notifying awardees around the end of April to the first week of May.
  • The contracts are slated to be signed and payments made by the end of May.    
  • We plan to evaluate the program’s success on how the funding beneficially impacts the operation and growth of BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving community composters. We will help these groups by funding their Core Mission Support. At the same time, we trust that frontline organizations know what is best, and we will support them in deciding how the funds should be allocated. 
  • Great news! You can apply for a grant and be a part of other organizations’ applications. Community composting projects are an excellent way for organizations to unite and positively impact BIPOC communities. By working together, we can create more opportunities for collaboration and help promote a healthier, more sustainable environment for everyone.   

About ILSR

Founded in 1974, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a national research and technical assistance organization that constructs the foundation and framework for communities to take charge of their local resources, economies, and environmental future. We focus on keeping economic and political power as close to the people as possible, where they have the responsibility and authority to make the decisions that impact their lives.

ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative catalyzes distributed and diverse local composting across the country to cut food loss, enhance soils and watersheds, support local food production, and protect the climate while addressing community prosperity and equity. We are amplifying distributed solutions that encompass composting at home, community gardens, urban and rural farms, schools, and micro facilities operated by non-profits, cooperatives, and social enterprises. Too often, cities and states favor mass industrial compost production and sweep aside the rich array of locally-based options. 

ILSR’s current work plan for our Composting for Community Initiative is designed to support and grow a diversified, decentralized composting sector that rises to meet the pressing need for recycling wasted food while creating rich soil for local gardens and farms, enhancing the ability of soil to act as a carbon sink, providing educational opportunities, and sustaining good jobs. Our broader initiative has three key goals:

  1. Facilitate replication and raise awareness of the benefits of composting.
  2. Cultivate community-scale and on-farm composting.
  3. Change the rules to advance composting over landfilling and burning and promote composting as a soil conservation practice.



Najee Quashie - Research Fellow
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Najee Quashie

Najee Quashie is a Research Fellow with ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative. He supports the team's work in increasing access to funding for BIPOC community composters in New England coastal states. Najee received his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Seton Hall University and is interested in the dynamic between policy development and implementation at the local level.