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Citi Foundation announces recipients of inaugural Global Innovation Challenge

Fifty organizations, including Leket Israel, granted a total of $25 million to pilot or expand catalytic solutions to improve food security globally.

Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel and Neil Corney, CEO of Citi Israel. Credit: Courtesy.
Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel and Neil Corney, CEO of Citi Israel. Credit: Courtesy.

Last week, the Citi Foundation announced the grant recipients of its first-ever Global Innovation Challenge, a new model to identify and provide philanthropic support to community organizations that are developing innovative solutions to social and economic challenges facing low-income communities. Initially previewed at the Global Citizen Festival this weekend, the inaugural Global Innovation Challenge is providing a total of $25 million to 50 community organizations, including Leket Israel, working to improve food security and strengthen the financial health of low-income families and communities around the world.

As recipients of this inaugural Global Innovation Challenge, each organization has been granted $500,000 to support programming across four key areas: food access, availability, affordability, and community resilience. Innovations range from launching apps that will connect food supply and demand to piloting new technology and sustainable farming practices to setting up urban gardens and more. Highlights include:

The Hunger Project is scaling its initiative to engage indigenous women in southern Mexico in leadership and entrepreneurship technical training to create community- led food businesses.

Concern Worldwide is providing business training, expanding access to markets and investors, delivering nutrition education, and supporting urban gardening for small-scale food vendors, especially women and youth, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Global FoodBanking Network is expanding its technical support, mentoring and delivery of financial resources to newly established food banks worldwide that are supporting communities struggling with poverty and food insecurity.

Yayasan Kopernik is working with small farmers in West Timor, Indonesia to revitalize indigenous farming practices and adopt food preservation technologies for a more resilient, self-sustaining food system.

Leket Israel is piloting a mobile grocery truck project to collect surplus farm produce and deliver it to remote and underserved communities in the country.  

“Philanthropic capital plays a critical role in the marketplace of social solutions and the Citi Foundation’s Global Innovation Challenge is designed to help new ideas grow and scale,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Citi Community Investing & Development. “From providing immediate relief to those in crisis to longer term interventions, the organizations that make up our first-ever Global Innovation Challenge cohort are delivering life-changing solutions that strengthen the health of low-income communities.”

“We are excited about this new partnership with Citi Foundation and are honored to be selected as one of the 50 organizations worldwide,” shared Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel. “This generous grant will enable Leket Israel to broaden its impact and provide much needed fresh, nutritious agricultural produce to thousands of vulnerable families throughout Israel.” 

The grants span two years and over the course of the initiative, grantees will have access to a learning community facilitated by IDEO.org, a non-profit design studio. Through a digital platform and a set of curated experiences, grantees will have the opportunity to collaborate, share lessons learned and exchange best practices.

“When it comes to solving the most urgent issues our world is facing, it’s clear the private sector has a critical role to play in bringing innovative solutions to the table,” said Liza Henshaw, President of Global Citizen. “We commend the Citi Foundation for the action-oriented approach taken in its Global Innovation Challenge, which will unleash vital resources for organizations doing critical work to serve families and communities around the world.”

In February 2023, the Citi Foundation issued this global RFP, the first in its history. Over 1,000 submissions from organizations working in more than 80 countries were submitted.

The Citi Foundation’s Global Innovation Challenge on food security complements Citi’s strong track record in the space — from working with clients to develop digital payment solutions to extending financing to organizations that help smallholder farmers increasing productivity and more.

For more information on the Global Innovation Challenge and a complete list of grant recipients, please visit citifoundation.com/challenge

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income comm unities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant comm unities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy“ approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. for more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.

About Leket Israel

Leket Israel – the National Food Bank, rescues fresh, agricultural produce from farms and packing houses and cooked food from hotels, corporate cafeterias and IDF army bases and distributes it through a network of 265 nonprofit partner agencies feeding 234,000 Israelis in need on a weekly basis.

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