Below is the foreword written by Capital Impact Partners, as part of the full impact evaluation and report which was conducted by PCV.
For more than four decades, Capital Impact Partners—a nonprofit, national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)—has provided financing and capacity-building programs to advance racial and economic justice by facilitating access to quality health care and education, healthy foods, affordable housing, and economic opportunities.
Capital Impact Partners has emerged as one of the leading CDFIs in the healthy foods movement, having secured $20 million in key federal grants through the CDFI Fund Healthy Food Financing Initiative over the past decade. We have leveraged these awards to deploy $185 million to 88 food enterprise locations that serve over 1.1 million people across the country. In addition to creating access to healthy and affordable food in areas that have been subjected to systemic disinvestment, this work also creates jobs and economic opportunities in communities.
In 2011, we became the first fund administrator for the California FreshWorks Fund, bringing financing to grocers, community markets, food distributors, nonprofits, commercial developers, and others seeking to expand access to healthy food in California’s low-income communities. In our five years of overseeing this initiative, we deployed $60 million to healthy food projects, including 16 grocery stores. These investments spurred more than 100,000 square feet of retail space development, created or retained more than 1,200 jobs, and increased access to healthy food for 730,000 people.
As a learning organization, we drew upon our prior experience through the FreshWorks Fund and our other efforts to guide the evolution of our healthy food financing initiatives. This manifested itself in the Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF), also designed to respond to needs identified by stakeholders to advance the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter. We launched this collaboration in 2015 with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the Fair Food Network.
Through this first-of-its-kind initiative, the MGFF created an ecosystem of financial and technical assistance products and programs to build a more inclusive food system throughout the state. This included support to food enterprises along the value chain, reflecting a commitment to increasing healthy food access while also creating economic opportunity—both of which have long been lacking in communities of color. Additionally, as an initiative with a serious commitment to racial and social equity, we collaborated with partners to create ways to center, advance, and operationalize justice in all facets of the work, from processes to products.
We continue to learn. Involved with the MGFF since 2016, the evaluation team at Pacific Community Ventures helped us adopt a developmental evaluation approach to allow us to receive feedback as we implemented the work. Evaluation results are used to refocus and refine our initiative, celebrate our successes, and identify and examine opportunities.
We thank the MGFF partners that were instrumental in creating our unique collaborative: Detroit Development Fund, Fair Food Network, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, the Kresge Foundation, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan Women Forward, Northern Initiatives, Northern Trust Bank, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
As we celebrate the fifth birthday of this initiative, we invite you to glimpse into the depth of our multidimensional partnership and read about the lessons we’ve learned on the journey to create a more inclusive food system. We are proud to have been the inaugural fund administrator of the Michigan Good Food Fund.