Stories of Impact: What Grows Around, Comes Around
By Coby Gould
2012-13 member of Roots & Branches Foundation
In 2010, my organization, The GrowHaus, was little more than a compelling food justice idea with an old greenhouse in North Denver. We applied to Roots & Branches Foundation for a grant to run our first summer program. Not only was this our first program, it was our first grant.
On our site visit from Roots & Branches members, I met Aaron Ney, a fellow advocate for food access who championed our idea to his peers. Roots & Branches saw our potential and took the leap to fund us, providing the opportunity to run our summer program and keep us financed long enough to receive a larger grant that would ultimately kickstart our organization and my role as its executive director. We now grow thousands of vegetables each week, educate hundreds of youth each year and actively bring fresh food to those most in need in our community.
Two years later, I was informed of the opportunity to join Roots & Branches myself. I decided to participate, enthusiastic to see the other side of grantmaking and eager to give back, knowing the value of the grant we had received.
In response to one of Roots & Branches Foundation’s 2012-13 grant priorities, Engaging Jewish People Ages 21 to 40 in Ongoing Volunteer Programs that Promote Social Justice, I was pleased to see an application from Ekar Farm, a Jewish urban farm that Aaron Ney now directs. I visited Ekar to get to know the program better, just as Aaron had with The GrowHaus, and was impressed with their operation - a beautifully maintained urban farm with a clear social impact in the community. My fellow Roots & Branches members agreed and we decided to fund Ekar’s joint proposal with Moishe House.
In my role as an executive director, I’ve often heard people say small grants don’t count for much. What’s the impact of $3,000 when an organization’s budget is $500,000 or more? In my case, a small grant made all the difference, allowing us to pursue our passion. And now, Roots & Branches has given me the unique opportunity to give back to another organization that I feel is doing similarly great work to change how we as a community relate to our food and each other.