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Californian Consumers Advancing Agroecology and Organics (CACAO)

Note: The Foundation is no longer accepting Letters of Inquiry for the CACAO Fund.

The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (Noyes Foundation) announces CACAO, a new funding opportunity through which it will award one-time grants to eligible non-profit organizations working in California to build the movement for agroecology and organic food and consumer products by:

  • Educating consumers about organic advertising and advancing efforts toward regulatory reform and corporate accountability;

Or by

  • Educating consumers about organic advertising and strengthening local, equitable and ecologically healthy food systems.

Through the CACAO Fund, the Noyes Foundation will award a total of $1,170,000 in grants in amounts ranging from $75,000 to $250,000. The granting of these funds will be on a one-time basis, and no renewal funding is implied. Up to 25 percent of the grant award may be used for indirect costs/overhead. If applicants feel they can make a strong case for an even higher allocation for indirect costs/overhead they may articulate it in the full proposal. The majority of funds shall be used for programmatic and project-based work.

What types of organizations are eligible for this opportunity?

Eligible applicants include California-based tax-exempt organizations under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and California-based affiliates of national nonprofit organizations. Coalitions, alliances, and networks are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should not be currently receiving funding from an industry, corporation, business, or other entity, or subsidiary of such an entity, which markets toxic chemicals for the production of consumer goods, or food and/or beverage products.

Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they:

  • Are democratically governed (including but not limited to standard 501(c)(3) board structures);
  • Incorporate systems of accountability to ensure that their priorities reflect the interests of directly affected people;
  • Actively engage in leadership development to build the power of directly affected people;
  • Have staff and boards that significantly reflect the people they serve; 
  • Have been in operation for at least five years; 
  • Have annual operating budgets of at least $250,000;
  • Engage in one or more “movement building functions” as described on the Foundation’s website (;
  • Have a track record of working to benefit those harmed by toxic chemicals and/or supporting organic or agroecological systems;
  • Have financial systems in place to manage a grant in the range of $75,000 - $250,000. 
  • Are non-profit public charities as defined by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or are applying through a non-profit fiscal sponsor.

What type of work will CACAO support?

The Foundation seeks to support work which furthers our values ( and strengthens the movement for agroecology and organic food and consumer products as a long-term strategy to protect the ecological integrity of the planet, its people, and its biodiversity.

All work supported by the CACAO Fund must include, as a component, consumer education about organic advertising as part of a broader strategy to grow the movement to reform conventional and organic food and consumer product supply chains, and to support more localized production systems which can be held accountable to high standards of social equity and ecological health.

The Foundation seeks applicants who will:

  • Educate consumers about organic advertising and advance efforts toward regulatory reform and corporate accountability;


  • Educate consumers about organic advertising and strengthen local, equitable and ecologically healthy food systems.

These are distinct strategies. Applicants may request funding to engage in either or both strategies. A common denominator required for both strategies is that change be driven by, and accountable to, informed consumers.

The Foundation is open to supporting a wide range of activities aimed at building the movement for agroecology and organic agriculture and consumer products in California, including, but not necessarily limited to: monitoring corporate practices, shareholder activism, policy advocacy, legal advocacy, participatory action research, organizational capacity building, multi-organizational collaboration, leadership development, base building, media messaging, and the development of community-controlled markets. We anticipate that each applicant will engage in a unique mix of activities.

What is the process for applying?

The Noyes Foundation invites interested non-profits to take an eligibility quiz, and if so directed, to submit a short Letter of Interest (LOI) through our Grants Portal by Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

The LOIs will be reviewed by a committee of board and staff members, as well as invited readers with related expertise and experience in California. Using a common set of criteria, the reviewers will score the LOIs and select a sub group of high scoring applicants as semi-finalists from whom to invite full proposals by mid-October.

A deadline for full proposals will be set for mid-November and the reviewers will evaluate proposals based on a common set of criteria which will include, but not be limited to: ability of organization to carry out proposed work; history and stability of the organization; demonstrated capacity to manage financial resources; evidence of relationship to communities and experience with consumer education; depth and breadth of existing organizational partnerships; and plans for ongoing sustainability of the work. We intend to make final awards by the end of the year, but reserve the right to extend grant making decisions into 2018 if we feel doing so is necessary for adequate due diligence.

Key terms

For the purpose of this funding opportunity, the Foundation uses terminology with the following understandings:

Agroecology and Organic – These two terms connote specific ecologically sensitive approaches to production, and they also are associated with social movements that value ecological health and challenge the dominance of industrial agriculture. We recognize that, for a variety of reasons, not all producers utilizing socially and ecologically sustainable production practices choose to be certified organic. Nor are all certified organic producers employing socially and ecologically sustainable practices. Those utilizing the organic label must adhere to the Organic Foods Production Act. Agroecology has no statutory definition, but has been extensively written about and practiced. Two sources helpful to the Foundation’s understanding of agroecology as a conceptual framework are a Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy issue primer, and the 2009 article Agroecology as a Science, a Movement and a Practice. A Review, linked below.

Consumer – Refers to all categories of people who may purchase or utilize organic and non-toxic products, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Individuals and household purchasers concerned about their exposure to toxic chemicals through foods and consumer products (including body products, baby products, cleaning supplies, and packaging materials) 
  • Farmers who purchase organic seeds and other inputs used to farm organically,
  • Farmworkers tasked with following organic and non-toxic growing practice protocols 
  • Food processors sourcing organic and non-toxic ingredients
  • Institutional food purchasers ordering organic and non-toxic food from vendors and suppliers
  • Cooperatives, buying clubs, and other associations promoting localized, ecologically sensitive, equitable food systems

Application instructions

Organizations interested in this grant opportunity should submit a Letter of Interest through the Foundation’s Grants Portal (click link) by Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.


If you have any questions about this opportunity, send an email to with the subject heading "CACAO Fund - [Name of Your Organization]."