The Vitamix Foundation, with a broad geographic focus, seeks to impact health by increasing the consumption of plant-based whole foods. It is a private foundation funded by the Vitamix Corporation and established in 2014. The foundation’s vision is to enhance health and wellness through plant-based whole foods. The foundation’s mission is to collaborate and partner with others to further knowledge, consumption, and enjoyment of plant-based foods.
The foundation’s grantmaking is by invitation only, geographically limited to the United States, and aligned to one or more of three focus areas. It seeks opportunities to work in collaboration with others to identify and pilot innovative solutions that are strategically targeted to high leverage points. Evaluation of effectiveness is a key component of any pilot, as well as thinking through how to move to national scale if proven effective.
Program Information: The Vitamix Foundation has three focus areas centered on furthering the knowledge, consumption, and enjoyment of plant-based whole foods:
- Prenatal—includes preconception, pregnancy, and lactation; all the critical periods where nutritional choices contribute to the health and well-being of mother and child.
- First 2,000 Days—defined as birth to kindergarten.
- Research—funding to support medical research that aims to assess the health impact of a plant-based lifestyle on a range of illnesses.
Total Assets: $260,000 FY17
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $100,110
- Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services GrantsEarly Learning Healthy Teachers Program— This collaborative grant is to three institutions that are working together to create and evaluate an online professional development module for early learning educators called “An ECE Professional’s Impact: Nourish Yourself/Create Healthy Futures.” The focus is on the educator’s own health and their impact as a role model. The three grantees are Better Kid Care (a program of Pennsylvania State University in collaboration with Deborah Lewison-Grant, Executive Director of FoodFight NYC), The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) School of Public Health, and The Centers for Families and Children in Cleveland, Ohio. Better Kid Care will develop and distribute the module, which will be piloted at The Centers for Families and Children’s seven early-learning sites. The UT Health School of Public Health team, led by Shreela V. Sharma, PhD, will then undertake an evaluation of the pilot. ($137,601)Nutritional Research Foundation— The Nutritional Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports, encourages, and promotes clinical research to evaluate the impact of a nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet, and related nutritional interventions on chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune illnesses. This grant provides support for a study in which the Nutritional Research Foundation has partnered with a Harvard-affiliated medical center in Boston, Massachusetts to conduct a two-tier, three-year randomized study to evaluate the effect of two diets (a nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet versus a more conventional USDA diabetes diet). The study will examine such parameters as glycemic control, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. ($10,000)The Moore Institute— This multiyear grant supports bringing scientists and clinical experts on nutrition and pregnancy together to determine the unique nutritional needs of women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and during lactation. This meeting of experts will develop general principles that are foundational to a healthy diet for reproductive women, as well as a list of recommendations to governmental bodies to ensure access to healthy foods for women before and during pregnancy and during lactation. The conference will address both the nutritional needs of women during their reproductive years and the strategies needed to change their diets. ($180,000 over two years).
Role of Philanthropy in Meeting Pressing Needs
“Foundations, regardless of their size, must challenge themselves to work with others to address the pressing health needs and seek to solve issues at their root cause. Whether in the United States or globally, the obesity crisis is garnering significant attention, but we must seek to understand and address the root causes. There is clear indication that a very significant factor is what people eat, in addition to other lifestyle behaviors. The emerging science suggests that choices made during critical developmental periods—preconception, pregnancy, lactation, and the early childhood—play a significant role in the risk of chronic conditions, including obesity. Further, these choices may have an epigenetic effect, turning certain genes on or off, for future generations. We must challenge ourselves in philanthropy to work together to address the root causes by advancing knowledge, funding innovation with disciplined evaluation, and through advocacy.”
–Carolyn Hightower, Director, Vitamix Foundation