Six months ago, we shared our commitment to contributing to the Black Lives Matter mission. As we’ve grown and learned from this commitment, we are excited to share an update on our progress and the actions we have taken since.
In 2020, Apeel formed the Black Lives Matter Task Force with the goal of establishing and sustaining a strong foundation and framework for our continued efforts. Our task force is currently six people strong and these individuals come from a range of backgrounds and business functions.
One of the first priorities for the task force was to select organizations and leaders for Apeel to invest in and partner with to help drive systems of change. Over the course of 2020, our task force selected four organizations: CoFED, The Posse Foundation, Planting Justice, the Santa Barbara Young Black Professionals.
- CoFED (Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive) works to build a cooperative food economy, powered by the visionary leadership of young people of color. Apeel has committed $35,000 to support twelve food cooperatives through CoFED’s regranting program, CoFUND. In addition to grant funding, grantees will also have access to 12 months of technical assistance in business management, financial and operational skills, and communications support.
- The Posse Foundation provides graduating high school students who may have been missed by more traditional admission methods with full-tuition leadership scholarships to attend partner universities across the country. Apeel’s donation of $35,000 to The Posse Foundation’s Los Angeles office supports the Pre-Collegiate Training program, which prepares scholars for college via weekly workshops on a variety of topics.
- Planting Justice works in the Bay Area of California to cultivate practices of food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing specifically for those impacted by mass incarceration. Apeel has contributed $15,000 to help fund renovations on a building that will serve as a retail space for local entrepreneurs, a retail nursery, a spiritual center for wellness education, and an emergency shelter.
- SBYBP (Santa Barbara Young Black Professionals) is a non-profit for young black professionals to participate in educational workshops, community service and networking opportunities in the Santa Barbara community where Apeel is headquartered. Apeel’s donation of $10,000 will go towards their Unity in Community initiative, which supports the mental and emotional health of members.
In 2021, Apeel is excited about deepening our partnerships with these organizations and seeing the results of these investments.
Beyond partnerships with external organizations, we are committed to engaging in conversation and education on race and equality within Apeel. We believe in the power of collective action for social change and are excited about various initiatives we have launched internally to engage our team members.
- The Resilience Book Club at Apeel is a space for employees to engage in dialogue around racial justice. This year, the book club will focus on four genres which include liberation philosophy, Black history/policy, Black memoirs, and contemporary racial dialogue. The first book that we will be reading this year is Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. (Stay tuned for the full reading list so you can read and learn along with us!)
- Fireside chats and guest speakers have included dedicated time for employees to meet the BLM Task Force and hear from speakers, such as James Joyce III, founder of Coffee with a Black Guy. James facilitated two sessions with Apeel to share stories, have conversations, impart perspective, and just listen and learn. We are looking forward to welcoming more speakers to come to Apeel in 2021.
- Behaviors of Inclusion Training is now being offered to help employees turn inclusion skills into daily habits. These Behaviors of Inclusion workshops, through LifeLabs, allows employees to learn the psychology of unconscious bias and its impact at work. The workshop provides tools and resources to practice behaviors of inclusion in order to be a better advocate for oneself and others.
Finally, as we celebrate Black History month, we’ll be featuring and celebrating Black Americans who have discovered, established, and created great things in the areas of sustainability, agriculture, social justice, and science. Be sure to check out some of those inspiring stories (chosen by our Black Lives Matter Task Force members!) each week of February on our blog.