Seed Grants

The 2017 application window is July 15 through July 31, 2017.

FCI Seed Grant logo




Application materials and updated webinar will be available in early summer. Learn more about the Seed Grant application process by reviewing the archived 2016 Seed Grants grant materials

Food Co-op Initiative Seed Grants were created to provide early development capital to retail food co-op organizing groups that wish to partner with us in their endeavor. In addition to the grant award, we will commit to regular follow-up and assistance with your team.

Grants are given in amounts up to $10,000 when funds are available. We depend on the generosity of other organizations to support this grant program and only a limited number of awards can be offered. The grant money must be matched in equal dollars by the newly forming co-op. These matching funds are usually raised through membership equity and other community sources.

Awards are granted after review of all applications. This is a competitive process, as we receive more applicants than we can fund every year. If you do not receive a seed grant we will continue to work with you and support you through the steps in starting a retail food co-op.

Using  Seed Grant Funds

Seed Grant icon smIn past years Seed Grant funding has been used to help offset the cost for feasibility and marketing studies, hiring  a project manager,  covering the cost of Up & Coming food co-op conference attendance, and supporting owner/member recruitment and investment  projects.

As an integral part of the Seed Grant award, co-ops will receive

  • Up to $10,000 for approved project costs
  • Access to peers and training
  • A site visit and consultation from a Food Coop Initiative specialist
  • Priority access to our resources and specialists

The Seed Grant amount must be matched 100% by locally raised funds. Grants are paid as reimbursement for expenses, not in advance. Grant activities must be completed within one year of the signed contract date.

Selection Criteria

The 2017 application window is July 15 through July 31, 2017.

Seed Grant icon smApplicants must be developing a retail food cooperative organization, and fully understand the cooperative structure, values, and principles. They should be working under a consumer (owner/member) cooperative model. They must be incorporated as a cooperative or in another manner and operate under bylaws and policies consistent with the International Cooperative Principles. They should be able to articulate a clear vision, and have organized a strong, committed team to their endeavor. Priority is given to co-ops with a high likelihood of feasibility, potential for significant community impact, and evidence of strong partnerships and support.

While the 2017 Seed Grant Applications are not yet available, you may review the 2016 application form for planning purposes. More info on the 2016 application process, which should be very similar in 2017, is explained here: Seed Grant Info 2016. The 2016 webinar about the seed grant application process has been removed. There will be a 2017 informational video available shortly before the application process begins.

Thanks to our donors

These grants are made possible by the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Program, the Blooming Prairie Foundation, and donations from food co-ops across the U.S.

Help Support Our Seed Grant Program

Startups are the seedlings of the retail food co-op community, and our Seed Grants are a great way to nourish them. Donate to the FCI Seed Grant Program today.

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