Nonprofit Spotlight: Urban Roots looks to a brighter day (sponsored)

Plumas Bank sponsors this content

Reno-based nonprofit Urban Roots was founded in 2009.

Reno-based nonprofit Urban Roots was founded in 2009. Courtesy Photo

Urban Roots is mission driven to grow healthy minds, bodies, and communities.

They are most known for educational seed- to-table programming at their Urban Teaching Farm in partnership with Renown Health and their collaborative work with educators in the Washoe County School District.

During the global pandemic, Urban Roots changed their in-person programming into virtual and home-based offerings so they could survive. It was a shift that helped offset the steep loss in revenue from pandemic cancellations, a pillar of the nonprofit’s budget that kept staff and operations afloat. And while it helped for a long time, these shifts couldn’t keep the nonprofit from furloughing mission-critical staff at the tail end of the year.

Still, their pivot wouldn’t have been possible without the financial resources from community partnerships that empowered the organization.

Buoyed by the community’s outpouring of support in what was undeniably a difficult financial period, the charity realized it had a chance to broaden its roots.

The staff sought and secured new and unique partnerships so it could help offer relief to vulnerable populations during peak times of the pandemic, providing resources such as:

  • Windowsill gardening kits to Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada constituents.
  • Virtual programming to enrich curriculum for home school and distant learning families.
  • Produce grown directly at their teaching farm and provided to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
  • Training to assist other non-profits such as Northern Nevada HOPES and their Hope Springs campus.

As these meaningful partnerships (some new, some already established) took hold, it reinforced the notion that Urban Roots has more to offer and spurred them into re-evaluating their next chapter here in the region.

“We’re expanded programming opportunities to individuals of all ages,” said executive director Fayth Ross. “We will still focus efforts largely around children, but we also want to provide access and options to learners of all ages.”

The partnerships are primed to blossom, but the staff has begun to hit a different resource wall: still furloughed due to lagging pandemic donations, they’re tired and pressed for time. Still, they’re planning for tomorrow.

“It’s really incredible how much we’ve done in this pandemic year at a reduced staff capacity,” said Ross. “I’m looking forward to the day when we have more time and more resources. Just thinking about what we could accomplish in the community when that day arrives gives us strength.”

Ross mentioned the team is actively working to manifest this day, not willing to use hope as a strategy.

“We’re used to teaching people how seeds grow in the right environment with the right conditions, and the same is true for nonprofits and what they can do for others. People grow things: produce, flowers, support, community... The Urban Roots team is ready to grow more for our community.”

Urban Roots 2021-2022 Programming: 

  • Seasonal Gardening Kits: Available for children and adults. Spring kits are now available at www.urgc.org/shop
  • Fall Farm School (home school enrichment): Registration opens end of July
  • Field Trips (virtual and/or in-person): Spring field trips are full; Fall field trips open SY21-22
  • Seed-to-table workshops at the Urban Teaching Farm: Anticipated to start late 2021, early 2022
  • Venue rental of the Urban Teaching Farm: Applications open late 2021

What’s next? 

  • Programming: All programming announced so far has sold out or is on track to fill at an alarmingly fast rate. To “romaine in the loop” sign up for the Urban Roots newsletter at www.urgc.org/subscribe
  • Partnerships: The Urban Roots team needs nourishment, just like the seedlings planted at the Urban Teaching Farm. Becoming a partner will increase bandwidth and mutually expand each organization’s reach, and ultimately, the region’s collective health.

This article was provided by Urban Roots, a Reno-based nonprofit. Plumas Bank sponsors this content.


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