How This Tisch Philanthropy is Fighting for Food Equity in NYC

Tisch is a popular family name in New York City philanthropy circles, but one particular Tisch that grantseekers may not know too well yet is Laurie M. Tisch. She’s the daughter of Joan H. Tisch and the late Preston Robert Tisch, and she started a charitable fund nearly a decade ago to expand access and opportunities for New Yorkers.

One of the most interesting aspects of Laurie Tisch’s local giving is her support for food equity in the city. This is a cause that seems to fall into the shadows behind homelessness and access to healthcare. A few years ago, the fund made a five-year, $15 million commitment to healthy food, which made it one of the largest donors in New York’s history to back this cause. The driving forces behind this commitment were disparities in diet-related diseases across neighborhoods and a lack of access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods.

Thus far, the fund’s healthy food grants have included community-based initiatives, public-private partnerships, and good neighbor grants. One of Tisch’s earliest food access projects was in the academic space, when it created the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. This center produces research about just and sustainable food systems and what they mean for educators, advocates and policymakers.  Overall, the fund’s support for this cause dates back to 2008.

Fast-forward to mid-2016 and you’ll see that Tisch’s support for food equity is just as strong as ever. Tisch and her staff have been supporting urban farms in NYC, aquaponics farms, and keeping food waste out of landfills. In a recent interview, Tisch talked about her 35-year involvement with philanthropy, including her desire to level the playing field in the city she loves. This year, Tisch was honored at a United Way of New York City Women’s Leadership Council luncheon.

“We’re all incredibly lucky. Obviously not everybody has the same opportunities and the same great fortune and it’s important to always, always remember that,” she said. “No matter how difficult your situation is, think what it would be if you didn’t have financial resources as many people don’t and how much more difficult that would be.”   

Other past healthy food grantees include City Harvest, LISC New York City, NYC Green Cart, Wellness in the Schools and Wholesome Wave. Unfortunately, you can’t apply for a Tisch Illumination Fund, as it selects its own prospective grantees and doesn’t welcome unsolicited requests.

In addition to food equity grants, this Tisch foundation also supports access to arts and culture activities, education, nonprofit capacity building and the arts side of Jewish life. To learn more about this funder’s local giving in New York City, check out our full IP profile of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.