New Venture Advisors is seeing a growing number of Community Food Center and innovative food facility projects develop across the United States. We are constantly talking with teams and individuals who have big dreams and come to us for help or are looking for grants to fund their vision. While it is exciting to see this surge in interest and investment, we also see that many groups are not ready for the tasks ahead, and need more guidance in preparing them for the next steps.

It doesn’t always take a lot to get ready. Sometimes teams and individuals just need a little help assessing and structuring their project to fully understand the areas they need to work on. So we created a series of rubrics to help them do that.


The Readiness Rubrics

The concept of the rubrics is a framework to prepare planners and/or operators for leaping to the next level. Completing a rubric should help you create a directional map of your strategy, capacity, partnerships, funding, etc., and may even answer how New Venture Advisors can help you move towards project development, support facility growth, obtain financial feasibility, and prepare for implementation.


Who Can Use Them

The goal of completing a rubric is to help individuals and organizations articulate their dreams and big ideas and identify next steps to bring them into being.

Being able to clearly define your project across a few key dimensions makes these efforts more effective and beneficial for all stakeholders – most of all for operators. The rubrics are especially helpful if you are embarking on one of these activities:

  • Pitching your idea/project
  • Finding a partner
  • Engaging your community
  • Approaching or seeking a funder
  • Hiring a consultant
  • Writing a grant
  • Selling your board, advisors, or investors on a pivot, a new project, or a new direction
  • Creating a collaboration, or trying to

If one or more of these describe you, keep scrolling to learn about the rubrics and which level will best assist you with your project.

Which Readiness Rubric Is Right For You?

  • Level one represents anyone NEW to the industry or NEW to their project’s focus/goals/objectives.
  • Level one is about getting started. Are you a beginning entrepreneur? Is this a new venture for your organization, or are you just starting down a new path?
  • You are level one if you are looking for help to formulate an idea, better enunciate an idea, or craft a pitch for an idea. You may need a feasibility assessment, market study or business model to shape an idea. You may need a project plan to organize your work. Or you may need a strategic plan or business plan to guide your progress and share your vision with funders and partners.
  • You are level one if you are still developing your idea and looking for partners, funding, or clarity around the “how”.

If this is you, fill out the LEVEL ONE RUBRIC. Click here for Google Docs. Click here for Microsoft Word.


  • Level two represents anyone who has some experience within the industry related to their project but is looking for help, specialized input, or a person/team who can help validate their idea and bring it to life.
  • Level two is about next steps. Are you growing your organization? Are you considering a new project, path, partner, or idea?
  • You are level two if you are looking to start moving down a development path and can clearly explain your project and the project direction.

If this is you, fill out the LEVEL TWO RUBRIC. Click here for Google Docs. Click here for Microsoft Word.


  • Level three represents anyone who has experience within the industry related to their project and is looking for specialized help to embark on a large-scale project, pivot, new venture, or related idea that will require external resources and guidance.
  • Level three is about accelerating – pushing growth, or creating new opportunities, community and/or regional plans, or supporting a multi-faceted partnership in pursuing a project.
  • You are level three if you (and/or a group of partners) are looking to move a project along a development path and can clearly explain where you see the project going.

If this is you, fill out the LEVEL THREE RUBRIC. Click here for Google Docs. Click here for Microsoft Word.


We understand that working through these frameworks may be time-consuming; however, by completing this process you will have a better understanding of what is needed to complete your next phase of work. If you CANNOT complete any of the questions included in a rubric, we recommend completing the questions in the previous rubric level. For those who cannot answer Level One completely, we recommend reaching out to a thought partner to help you navigate these fundamentals before you employ a consultant, approach a funder or investor, or pitch your idea to your community.


Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Us.


Photo 116132557 © Lordn7 |

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)