Chipotle launches accelerator to empower next generation of farmers

Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 will support companies that are working to break down barriers standing in way of young farmers' success.

January 29, 2020

4 Min Read
Chipotle Aluminaries Project logo
Chipotle Aluminaries Project

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, an accelerator program designed to support ventures from across the country that are advancing innovative solutions to empower the next generation of farmers.

The industry-leading program is sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. From now until March 11, 2020, farmer-focused companies may submit applications to join a new cohort of ventures that will receive eight months of customized support, including mentorship from industry leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farm debt is projected to hit a record $416 billion, up almost 40% since 2012. Many small and midsize farmers committed to farming in an ethical and sustainable way need help to have a chance to succeed — both for the sake of the future of real nutritious food and the communities that rely on those farms, the announcement said.

Chipotle Aluminaries Project farmer holding pig

In December, Chipotle announced that it was implementing a scalable solution to these challenges via three-year contracts through approved suppliers, seed grants and increased local sourcing. Over the last month, Chipotle has donated over $385,000 to the National Young Farmers Coalition to help farmers during this steep agricultural downturn.

"As an organization that prioritizes corporate citizenship, Chipotle acknowledges that no one individual or company can cultivate a better world on their own," Chipotle chief corporate reputation officer Laurie Schalow said. "American farming is at a crossroads, and we must work together to identify solutions to overcome its great challenges."

The Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 is seeking applicants (both for-profits and nonprofits) that provide a solution to one of the top challenge areas faced by young farmers, including access to land, finance and labor. Solutions in agricultural technology, education and wellness — with a focus on the next generation of farmers — will also be considered. Companies interested in applying for project can find more information and apply at

The selected ventures will receive support and mentorship from industry leaders, including Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea; Ken Meyer, former global vice president of Whole Foods Market; Robyn O'Brien, co-founder of rePlant Capital, and Brian Irving, chief marketing officer of Eventbrite, as well as Chipotle executives, the announcement said.

The selected ventures will participate in a five-day, in-person summit hosted by Chipotle in Newport Beach, Cal., with direct access to mentors who will focus on key areas of scale, like strategy, leadership, finances and systems. Attendees will also receive individualized investor introductions throughout the program and Chipotle VIP cards.

In 2019, Chipotle selected eight growth-stage, food-focused ventures to participate in the inaugural program: AgVoice, American Ostrich Farms, Asarasi, GrubTubs, ImpactVision, Novolyze, Rex Animal Health and Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood.

"The Aluminaries Project is the first accelerator program we've seen that emphasizes the accelerations of sustainable business practices," said Eugene Wang, founder of Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood. "As mission-driven entrepreneurs, we believe this program helped us strengthen our value and stay true to our purpose."

Submissions for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 become the property of Chipotle and will not be returned. Finalists will be selected by Uncharted in its discretion, the announcement said.

Chipotle Mexican Grill serves responsibly sourced, classically cooked food with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Chipotle has more than 2,500 restaurants in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and Germany and has more than 80,000 employees.

The company established the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in 2011 to extend its commitment to making real food accessible for all. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $5 million to organizations committed to cultivating a better world through food.

Uncharted is a social impact accelerator that scales solutions to the most pressing problems of our time. Its programs connect problem solvers to the resources and support they need to scale their solutions using a multidisciplinary approach that mobilizes a diverse network of mentors, funders, partners and communities. To date, alumni of Uncharted have collectively raised $315 million, created impact in 96 countries and benefitted 55 million lives.

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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