NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is launching the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, the second iteration of its farmer-focused accelerator program.
The program was designed to support ventures that provide solutions to challenges faced by young farmers, including access to land, finance and labor. Solutions in AgTech, education and wellness also will be considered.
“As an organization that prioritizes corporate citizenship, Chipotle acknowledges that no one individual or company can cultivate a better world on their own,” said Laurie Schalow, chief corporate reputation officer at Chipotle. “American farming is at a crossroads and we must work together to identify solutions to overcome its great challenges.”
The accelerator builds on Chipotle’s previous farmer-focused initiatives. The company announced last month it will implement three-year contracts through approved suppliers, seed grants and increased local sourcing. It also donated more than $385,000 to the National Young Farmers Coalition.
The 8-month program, sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and non-profit Unchartered, will include customized support and mentorship from industry leaders. Mentors include 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; along with Chipotle executives.
Eight start-ups, including AgVoice, American Ostrich Farms, Asarasi, GrubTubs, ImpactVision, Novolyze, Rex Animal Health and Sophie’s Plant-Based Seafood, participated in last year’s program.
“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.”