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To the Northern Colorado Food Cluster (NCFC) community

The Board of Directors of the NCFC is informing the community that efforts to find a successor organization to operate the WFM have been unsuccessful. We remain hopeful that some group or entity will step up and run the market, but regretfully NCFC will not be in a position to do so for 2019.
The NCFC board announced in the Summer of 2018 to discontinue the activities of the Cluster, and to seek dissolution, pending discussions of whether appropriate entity might take over management of the Winter Farmer’s Market, an ancillary activity of the NCFC. As those discussions have run their course, and all other activities of NCFC have ended, we are confirming that beginning in September, 2019, we will proceed to a complete dissolution of the organization.
As such, we are posting this Request for Proposal (RFP) to local non-profits who wish to apply to be the recipient of a portion of the remaining financial assets of the NCFC. In order to be considered, your organization must be an established 501(c) 3 not for profit entity or must establish and register an entity with the Colorado Secretary of State and submit expedited request to the IRS for 501(c)3 status*, and must provide the following information to the Board of Directors at the latest Thursday, August 29th, 2019, 11:59 PM Mountain time:

The leadership structure of your entity
Director and staff, their role, responsibility, and compensation reflected in financial pro forma (see below)Details on your current board composition, and plans for future board recruitment and membership with the names and qualifications, if applicable
Other contributors besides staff and board, i.e. other individuals expected to provide support, and what their formal role is in the organization

Brief description of the mission of your organization, which must be related to the mission of the Cluster (description of the mission can be found on the “Who we are” section of the website)

Financials including a projected budget and a pro forma financial statement and plans for financial and operational sustainability of the organization;

Current location of your organization and area of service;

A request for specific amount of funds from NCFC and an explanation on how those funds would be utilized.

We expect this proposal to be is detailed as possible (no less than 7-10 pages).
Your reply to this RFP should be addressed in an attached document to before the deadline specified above.

* By law, no funding can be deployed to an entity other than 501(c)3.  If no existing 501(c)3 is an applicant, entity registration and IRS submission must be completed by September 30, 2019.   A written notice and a copy of registration and submitted document to IRS must be provided to NCFC board by the deadline.  Failure to establish and submit application to IRS could result in retraction of funding award.  All costs and fees associated with reserving the award fund until approval must be paid by the applicant, which is the sole responsibility of the applicant even if funding award is ultimately withdrawn by NCFC.  Applicant should state explicitly with convincing supporting information that appropriate resource (e.g. funding, effort, personnel) are available for establishing the entity and apply for the 501(c)3 status as well as proposed methods and ensuring payment of estimated cost to reserve the fund (e.g. escrow account set up and maintenance fee). 

Knowledge and Network development

Connect food, beverage and agricultural supply chain actors. Host workshops and a regional conference.

Business Incubation

Mentor new businesses, provide skill development opportunities, provide grant support, attract new businesses to the region.

Market Development

Conduct market research, increase local and regional market channel opportunities, coordinate and implement market initiatives, promote the region.

How can the NCFC help my business?

Businesses in emerging and rapidly growing sectors of the economy may struggle the most to find relevant networks and like-minded businesses and organizations who are trying to understand the market dynamics and social issues they face. The Food Cluster is a convener of those like-minded institutions in the food system domain. Leveraging the “unified voice” of the industry cluster, engaged businesses should expect to see a return on their investment from the Food Cluster. This return on investment (ROI) will look different for different businesses: for some it may be new business leads and market access points, for others, industry cooperators in programs and projects and for others, connecting with those with similar missions to influence policy change.

Taking the collaborative approach to food system innovation and investment is the new paradigm for businesses, municipalities, and communities. The Food Cluster has only begun to scratch the surface of a new collaborative approach in Northern Colorado; your support, and most importantly your engagement in the Food Cluster, will ultimately lead to the organization’s success. How your business realizes benefits or a more tangible ROI from being engaged with the Food Cluster is really up to you.

How can the NCFC help my organization?

Whether your organization is a loose coalition of likeminded community members with a common goal, a small 501(c)(3) non-profit, or a department of a much larger (possibly global) organization, it is likely you also see value in leveraging the voice and resources of a larger set of organizations with common values. This voice may mean new energy around a public program investment to encourage new marketing infrastructure or market opportunities or research dollars flowing your way from a successful grant writing partnership with other Food Cluster partners. This may mean more publicity for your group that leads to more donations or volunteers from the community, or new engagement and interest from the community in support of your group’s mission.

Again, the collaborative process is key in this new innovation arena, and The Food Cluster wants your organization to be successful and realize ROI however you define it.

How does the Food Cluster select policies to work on?

The Food Cluster, through the policy subcommittee, has created a framework to identify impactful policies that align with the mission of the Cluster. The framework is divided into sectors of the food system that include production, consumption, distribution, and food waste/recycling. The framework will be utilized to select policies to focus on that are based on community needs, the potential solution identified, and the expected outcome of the policy.

How can the NCFC help my community?

By taking an economic development approach to food system innovation, the Food Cluster may gain some increased visibility and attention in key circles of the community.  But, with a membership base and governance structure that stretches beyond industry stakeholders, this Food Cluster can frame discussions to support more economically viable, socially just, and environmentally sustainable businesses and organizations, leading to a healthier, more resilient community.

What community initiatives has the Food Cluster supported?

Urban Agriculture Regulatory Changes– City Staff influenced and worked with citizens to research and draft new ordinances that allowed for urban agriculture in every zone district in the city; allowed for chickens, ducks, goats and more to be raised for increased self-sufficiency; allowed farmers markets in more zone districts; and supported year-round growing efforts by removing hoop houses from building regulations.

Farm Incubator – The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, with assistance community groups including members of the NoCo Food Cluster, is in the early stages of developing a program to use a small portion of compatible lands to convert back to local food production. This will likely include a strategic partnership with the local food bank, a young farmer mentorship program to develop young farmers, and a demonstration opportunity to converge many conservation and agricultural management goals into one location.

Community Marketplace – The City of Fort Collins Economic Health Office continues to work with multiple City departments and community stakeholders (including members of the NoCo Food Cluster) to establish a year round marketplace for local farmers and value added producers.

Legislative Advocacy – Cluster representatives met with State Representatives Fischer and Ginal to discuss legislative proposals in 2014, and recommendations from the Cluster lead to the formal City support (through the Legislative Review Committee) of three State-level bills. 

Climate Change Task Force – Cluster members solicited community feedback and developed recommendations on behalf of the Mayor of Fort Collins who sits on President Obama’s Climate Change Task Force

How does the Food Cluster Connect with the rest of the state?

The Cluster was added to the state-wide food coalition directory and network operating under  the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council. Steering Committee members also attended the Summit for Colorado Food System Coalitions in February 2014 to network and learn from other coalitions around the state. More information is posted here:

To our grant funders and Sponsors