December 26 – January 18, 2020

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

Instructor Bio: Jen Santry has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years as an environmental educator, land and animal conservationist, and local food advocate. She received her Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University and a Bachelor’s in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma. As the Community Programs Director at the High Country Conservation Center in Summit County, Colorado, Jen established 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. Jen currently lives on her farmstead in Sequim, WA, and works at Peninsula College as an instructor and educational planner. She’s excited to share her experiences facilitating groundbreaking, local food and farming programs.

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 Food and Farm-Related Nonprofit Organizations and Programs – social justice, environmental, educational, food banks, land trusts…

Module 2: How to Start a Nonprofit Organization – determining mission, applying for nonprofit status, and organizational structure

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

Module 4: Grant Writing and Fundraising – searching for grants, grant application process, and strategic fundraising

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

Grades will be assessed as follows
5 Online Discussions (“Food Blog”) 30 points
4 Quizzes 20 points
Nonprofit Spotlight Paper 15 points
Program Proposal 15 points
Grant Application Narrative 20 points
TOTAL POINTS 100 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

Academic Honesty

No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating – intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one’s academic work
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism – knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty – knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one’s papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the course instructor as soon as possible. Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming: