Monday, January 23, 2012

Urban Farmer Will Allen to Receive the Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education

WASHINGTON, DC (January, 23, 2012) – When Will Allen left his Rockville, MD family farm to play basketball at the University of Miami, he thought he’d left farming for good. But after playing professional basketball around the world, followed by a career as an accomplished corporate salesperson, Allen found himself back in the business of growing. Only today, in addition to healthy food, he’s growing young minds and building a movement.

Widely considered one of the leading authorities in the expanding field of urban agriculture, Allen teaches inner-city youth about farming, business management and marketing, by taking them through the entire process, from planting seeds to selling produce at farmers’ markets. To date, he has developed partnerships with more than 10 Milwaukee Public School (MPS) schools to put into action school-based food projects that include curriculum-based programs complying to Wisconsin State Standards. Will Allen’s organization, Growing Power, has also supplied 40,000 Milwaukee Public School children in 75 elementary schools with the food it grows. Many of these youth have participated in a hands-on tour of the Growing Power Community Food Center or were introduced to the organization through an educational video accompanying their locally grown snack.  

For this work, the NEA Foundation will present Allen with The Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education during the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on Feb. 10, 2012. Past recipients of this prestigious award include former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Street Workshop.

“Will Allen is making an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of students,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We have supported his workshops for teachers and students that include training in urban sustainable agriculture practices, because we believe that in addition to encouraging students to adopt healthy habits for themselves and our planet, he is also providing them with 21st century skills they’ll need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

At Growing Power, a farm and community food center that he founded in Milwaukee, WI, and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, he trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.

“I am honored to receive this NEA Foundation Award on behalf of my dedicated staff, community partners, Milwaukee Schools, and the City of Milwaukee,” said Mr. Allen. He continued, “Without our valuable community partners, such as the Milwaukee Public School System and the NEA Foundation, much of our work would not be possible….and I especially give thanks to Milwaukee children, their families, and teachers for their commitment to working with us to improve our community’s health, our educational system, and to provide opportunities for our young people to lead the way in developing a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable society.”

In 2010, Mr. Allen joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity. Allen was also recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.

At the NEA Foundation Gala, which attracts more than 800 leaders from the education, business and philanthropy sectors, Allen will be honored along with 35 of the nation’s top educators, recipients of the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, and Jeannie Oakes, director of Ford Foundation’s Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs, who will accept the NEA Foundation’s Award for Philanthropy in Public Education on behalf of the organization.

About the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is a national celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools. At this annual event, the Foundation recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from Bank of America, California Casualty, Horace Mann Educators Corporation, NEA Member Benefits, the Pearson Foundation, and Security Benefit Corporation.

About Growing Power

Growing Power was started in Milwaukee, WI, in 1993 by Will Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “Genius Award” who has long worked to produce and deliver healthy food to low-income communities. It is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

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About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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