Our goal: to help eliminate world hunger. That's why the John Deere Foundation supports agricultural development for sustainable food supplies and economic growth in underdeveloped countries. In 2005, the foundation added Solutions for World Hunger as an area of focus. And in 2008, we started working with Opportunity International, providing increased access to financial services for small-holder farmers and small business owners in Africa. In the U.S., we've helped start BackPack Programs to supply supplemental food for elementary school children. Want to know more? Check out the tabs below.
Many farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, and Burkina Faso live in poverty, struggling to cultivate tiny parcels of land. KickStart gives them hope.
The program develops and sells low-cost equipment, primarily irrigation pumps, to these subsistence farmers. This small investment often means the difference between barely growing enough to feed a family and growing enough to operate a profitable commercial farm. By 2010, KickStart had helped more than 100,000 families (about 500,000 people) start profitable commercial farm businesses. Today, these families enjoy economic stability. And, they can also provide sustainable, highly nutritious food supplies to those who live nearby.
In 2005 and again in 2008, the John Deere Foundation made three-year, $3 million grants to KickStart. With Deere's support, KickStart can get the pumps into farmers' hands at a price they can afford.
The John Deere Foundation provides annual support to the World Food Prize. This international award is given to those whose work has significantly improved food quality, quantity or availability. The World Food Prize organization is a prominent international leader in promoting research and collaboration to eliminate hunger and advance human development.
To increase awareness of the award, the organization also has two key programs for students:
Global Youth Institute
The Global Youth Institute is a three-day conference intended to help high school students learn about and comprehend the problems of world hunger. Students selected for the institute must conduct research and write a paper. During their time at the institute, students meet with World Food and Nobel Prize laureates and other international experts to discuss food security and related agricultural issues.
The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program sends talented students to agricultural research centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America each summer to work with scientists on research projects related to hunger and agricultural and human development. Part of the John Deere Foundation's annual $100,000 contribution to World Food Prize funds two scholarships for interns.
Supporting the Foods Resource Bank (FRB) allows us to make a big impact through one organization. Here's how FRB works:
In the U.S., community "growing projects" raise a crop or other marketable agricultural resources. The proceeds are given to 15 FRB member organizations worldwide. They, in turn, help support individuals or small groups wishing to establish small commercial farming operations or other ag-based businesses. Many of these farms or businesses work in some of the world's poorest areas. And their goals are simple: produce enough to support an entire community; produce extra food to share; barter or sell food to purchase basic medicines and staples; send all children to school.
Through this work, individuals and their communities can ultimately become self-sufficient and food-secure.
In 2010, the John Deere Foundation donated $80,000 to help FRB support its growing programs in the United States. FRB also uses some of the grant money to match John Deere dealer donations to growing projects in local communities. In 2008, FRB matched 31 dealer donations totaling $33,000. The proceeds from these growing programs have exceeded $500,000, all of which is being used for international agricultural development.
The Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program was founded at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois) in 1976. The program helps students confront the challenges faced by people in developing regions of the world. These challenges include: poverty, hunger, exclusion, underdevelopment, conflict, injustice, ecological disasters, and major health concerns.
HNGR combines classroom study with field-based internships. Students learn to help people live whole, secure, productive lives. Since the program began, more than 600 students have participated in HNGR internships in 63 countries worldwide.
A John Deere Foundation grant of $250,000 in 2005 now funds an annual symposium for students, program alumni, and others to further advance the causes of hunger and poverty elimination, and human development.
Opportunity International is dedicated to helping the working poor. The organization provides small loans to entrepreneurs so they can start or expand a business, develop a steady income, provide for their families and create jobs for others.
Opportunity International also offers savings, microinsurance, business training, and other services to 1.1 million people in 28 developing nations.
In 2008, the John Deere Foundation stepped in, providing a $1.26 million grant. These funds will help make microfinance services available to farmers and others engaged in food processing and distribution. The goal – create a sustainable framework in Malawi and Mozambique to increase food production, food availability at local markets, and family income for food. By 2011, the grant is expected to create $10.6 million of economic impact, helping thousands of farmers, food processors, and retailers. Its growing benefit is the result of Opportunity International's business model. Each time a client repays a loan, that money is re-loaned to others. Money in clients' savings accounts also adds to the funds available to borrow.
The John Deere Foundation partners with food banks and school administrators in six John Deere communities to help children through the "BackPack Program."
The concept was developed by Feeding America, a leading hunger-relief charity in the U.S. Chronically hungry elementary school students – whose main meals may come as free or reduced-price lunches they're given at school – are sent home each Friday afternoon with a bag of child-friendly food. Most of the items are ready-to-eat, so children can prepare them on their own on weekends during the school year. The program began when teachers and administrators realized hunger was affecting kids' ability to learn, and that many kids spent weekends hungry.
Through grants to community food banks, the Foundation sponsors BackPack Programs in Des Moines, Dubuque, Ottumwa, and Waterloo Iowa; the Quad Cities (eastern Iowa and western Illinois); and Greenville, Tennessee.