Nonprofit Management for Community Food and Farm Programs Online


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Note:  while much of the focus of this course is on food and farming community-led nonprofits, students interested in organizing around “non-food” topics will also find this course valuable and are welcome!

Course Description: Nonprofit organizations can be a strong voice for the local food movement! Whether you’re looking to build a new community garden, change city policy for backyard chickens, improve working conditions for farmworkers, or establish a neighborhood food bank, chances are, there’s a nonprofit near you with a similar mission. This course will discuss the foundations of nonprofit work including how to start your own nonprofit organization. We’ll research and review how to plan and implement successful programs; how to find the funds to execute your mission; and how to work with members of the community to reach your goals. From grant writing and fundraising to advocacy and marketing, learn the basics of how community-based nonprofits are on the forefront of sustainable and local food initiatives across the country.

Instructor: Jennifer Santry

janchcieknInstructor Bio:  Jen Santry attributes her connection with food and land to her Lakota and Choctaw heritage. She is an enrolled member of Choctaw Nation and she is Sičháŋǧu (Brule) Lakota, Bdewákaŋtuŋwaŋ (Mdewakanton) Dakota, and Iháŋktuŋwaŋ (Yankton) Dakota. She’s been involved in food politics, advocacy, and education for the last 20 years. Jen has a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and a BS in Zoology. She’s in the second year of a doctoral program in Educational Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Jen is researching best practices for braiding Indigenous knowledge into undergraduate sustainable agriculture courses through place-based and land-based pedagogies. Her love of nonprofits stems from working in the field for 15 years creating and implementing sustainable food programs including community gardens, K-12 educational programs, college student-run CSAs, and urban farming policies. She’s been a volunteer, a grant writer, a board member, an office administrator, and an executive director for several nonprofits over the years. This year, she moved with her family to Glorieta, New Mexico, to establish a high-desert homestead and permaculture farm. Jen is excited to share her experiences facilitating groundbreaking, local food and farming programs. She also teaches/manages the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems certificate program at Peninsula College (Olympic Peninsula) and UMASS Amherst’s STOCKSCH 165 – Intro to Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems during Summer II term.

Student Learning Objectives – students will:

  • Explore the various types of nonprofit organizations focusing on community food and farm programs.
  • Identify the legal and organizational requirements for starting a new nonprofit organization.
  • Examine best practices for program development and execution.
  • Gain experience in researching and writing grants for nonprofit funding.
  • Realize your potential to engage the public in your nonprofit’s mission.

Credits: 3 (transferable from UMass to other universities)

Class size:  Limited to 15

Course Outline and Weekly Topics

Module 1:  Overview of Farm and Sustainable Food-Related Nonprofit Organizations – History and background, Environmental Service Learning and Civic Engagement    

Module 2:  How to Start a Nonprofit Organization – Determining mission and vision, applying for nonprofit status, creative leadership, ethics and values,
building a Board, organizational structure    

Module 3:  Program Development – Budgeting for programs, meeting community needs, measuring your success, and fee-for-service opportunities (CSAs, Garden Plot Fees, Educational Workshops, Farm Stands…)    

Module 4:  Grant Writing and Fundraising – Making a profit, searching for grants, donor stewardship, grant application process, and strategic fundraising    

Module 5:  Volunteer and Community Outreach – Public policy, advocacy, grassroots organizing, coordinating volunteers, marketing your message to the public, working with local municipalities (building community gardens, urban farming legislation, food policy councils…)    

Module 6: Strategic Planning and Fulfilling Your Mission – Coming full circle on concepts you have learned, planning for the future, sustaining your organization, leading the food movement 

Grades will be assessed as follows:

  • 5 Online Discussions (“Food Blog”)          300 points
  • 4 Quizzes                                                                 200 points
  • Nonprofit Spotlight Paper                             150 points
  • Program Proposal                                               150 points
  • Grant Application Narrative                         200 points
    TOTAL POINTS                                        1,000 points

Grades will be assigned as follows
A  =  95-100 total points
A – =  90-94
B+ =  87-89
B   = 83-86
B-  =  80-82
C+  =  77-79|
C    =  73-76
C-   =  70-72
D+ =  67-69
D    =  60-66
F    =  59 or below


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science degree as well as the Online B.S. degree.  Online classes cost $482/credit.

To begin planning for the future, see….

Annual Class Schedule

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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