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Full Lives: Cultivating Food Justice

A group of people are listening to a non-profit partner explain the work they do in food security while standing in a greenhouse

United Way Staff


The Full Lives Request for Proposal is now open!  


Greater Twin Cities United Way is launching the next generation of Full Lives, a multi-year initiative focused on cultivating food justice in our region. Our vision is to create a thriving and equitable Twin Cities regional food system where all communities have physical and economic access to food that meets their cultural, dietary, and nutritional needs.  

Phase one of Full Lives will support collaboratives in the nine-county Twin Cities area working to build thriving and equitable food systems in their community.  

Objectives of Phase One: 

  • Foster collaborations among stakeholders in the regional food system. 
  • Promote sustainable solutions for addressing food justice issues. 
  • Empower communities to address systemic challenges within the food system. 
  • Enhance the capacity of collaboratives to implement projects effectively. 

We anticipate awarding a total of $1.2 million in grants to support three collaboratives working to address the complex challenges in their community’s food system. We anticipate each collaborative will be awarded between $250,000 - $400,000. Click here to view the full Request for Proposal (RFP) including eligibility and priority criteria. 

We welcome proposals that showcase community-driven approaches and a commitment to building resilience within the local food system, recognizing that ongoing efforts are already underway. We seek collaborations that can benefit from additional resources to bolster their existing work and advance their vision for a more equitable community food system.  

IMPORTANT: Greater Twin Cities United Way recently changed its funding portal to the software system Andar. To access this funding opportunity (and subsequent GTCUW funding opportunities), you will first need to register for a Grants Portal account through GTCUW, which you can do by following this link to the portal registration form. Once you have submitted the registration form, you will receive an email within three business days directing you to log in to your new Grants Portal account. This is where you will complete the Full Lives application, which will become available in your new portal on April 1st, 2024. Please refer to this one-pager for further details on how to register for your Grants Portal account and navigate the portal.  

Key Dates for Applicants   

Grants Portal Registration Opens. Register for your account hereMarch 27, 2024 
RFP/Round 1 Application Opens April 1, 2024 
Open Office Hours with PO April 15 & 18 and May 7 & 9 
RFP Closes May 10, 2024, at 5pm 
Notification of Round 2 Interview May 24, 2024 
Round 2 Interview June 6-7, 2024 
Notification of Funding Award Mid-Late June 
Grants Awarded July 1, 2024 
Grantee Cohort Convening August or September 2024 

Funding Eligibility  

Please note the funding eligibility requirements have been updated. Collaborations must meet the following requirements to apply: 

  • The Lead Organization must be a 501c3 nonprofit organization or have a fiscal sponsor who is a 501c3. 
  • Your collaboration must designate one organization as the "Lead Organization” responsible for administering the grant funding to partner organizations.* 
  • The Lead Organization's budget for the current fiscal year must be $250,000 or higher. 
  • Collaboratives must operate within the Greater Twin Cities United Way nine-county service region (Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Washington). 
  • Collaboratives must target high food insecurity areas within our nine-county service region.  
  • Eligible collaborations should involve a mix of organizations ensuring diversity and expertise across the partnership. Eligible entities for collaboration include nonprofit organizations, community-based groups, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders actively engaged in addressing food justice and community food system issues. 
  • Collaboratives must involve partnerships with a minimum of three organizations, one of which is the lead entity responsible for administering grant funding. 

Important Note on Financial Review: Your lead organization must meet the financial standards for Greater Twin Cities United Way funded partners based on a review of financial documents such as your most recent financial statements, form 990, and audit (if your organization is required by law to complete an audit) in order to receive funding. Organizations required to complete an audit MUST have a “clean” (unqualified) audit opinion in order to be eligible for funding under this RFP. You will be asked to upload financial documents as part of the application. Please note that organizations are only eligible to receive a maximum grant size of up to 20% of their overall organizational budget.  

*The lead organization within a collaborative partnership assumes key responsibilities, including grant administration, project management, stakeholder communication, budget management, collaboration facilitation, partner capacity building, and risk management. 

For any special considerations related to these criteria, please contact us at to determine your eligibility.  

Funding Priorities 

These criteria are not required but your collaborative will be scored based on how well they meet these criteria. Collaboratives that score highest will be most competitive for funding.  

  • Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusivity, including Rural Communities - We prioritize collaboratives with a clear focus on racial justice, equity, and inclusivity, actively working towards addressing disparities and promoting fairness within the community, with a specific consideration for the unique challenges faced by rural communities. 
  • Board and Senior Leadership - We prioritize collaboratives where 50% or more of the aggregated Senior Leaders and Board members collectively identify as Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, Pacific Islander and People of Color. 
  • Community-Led Initiatives - We prioritize proposals for projects where community input is valued in decision-making processes, promoting a sense of community ownership and engagement.  
  • Local Ecosystem Development - We prioritize nurturing a robust local ecosystem by fostering partnerships with local organizations, businesses, and community leaders. These collaborations are aimed at harnessing collective resources and optimizing the impact of our initiatives.  
  • State of Readiness and Clarity - We prioritize collaboratives that exhibit a clear state of readiness, understanding what they need and showcasing readiness for effective implementation and goal achievement.  
  • Community Food Systems Approach - We prioritize proposals that emphasize a holistic approach to community food systems, addressing various interconnected aspects that promote food resilience, sustainable production, strengthen local food economies, equitable production, and/or equitable distribution.  

Application Process  

The application process consists of two phases: 

  1. Written Application: Collaboratives will submit a written application. Applications will be scored by a team of Greater Twin Cities United Way staff and community reviewers with knowledge of community food systems against an evaluation rubric.  
  1. Virtual Conversation: Top-scoring collaborations will be invited to participate in a virtual conversation to talk more about their work and learn more about the Full Lives initiative. Prior to these calls, detailed agendas, discussion points, and insights into the selection process will be provided to ensure transparency and facilitate productive discussions.  
Area of Assessment  % of Total Score  
Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusivity, including Rural Communities Vision (20%) Board and Senior Leadership (10%)   30%  
Community Food Systems Approach  25% 
State of Readiness and Clarity  20% 
Community-Led Initiatives 15% 
Local Ecosystem Development 10% 
Total  100% 

Both the written application and virtual conversation will be scored against an evaluation rubric. Questions will be asked in each of the categories below and weighted as indicated. 

To download a document version of the written application please click here, and to see the full scoring rubric, please click here

Application Resources and Other Questions  

During the application period, Greater Twin Cities United Way staff are available to answer your questions and assist with your application.   

  • The Full Lives Program Officer held a live Q&A on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. You can find the video recording of the session here, and the slide deck from the session here
  • Four office hours will be held by the Full Lives Program Officer the following dates from  

10 AM – 2 PM CST. Click on the date to sign up for a 15-minute slot.   

  • Contact us at and a Greater Twin Cities United Way staff person will respond to your question within 3 business days. 

About the Author

Greater Twin Cities United Way unites changemakers, advocates for social good and develops solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone to create a community where all people thrive. Together with our partners, we’re meeting immediate community needs while transforming inequitable systems in the areas of housing, food, education and jobs.

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