ReFED Donor Profile: The Tepper Foundation

ReFED Donor Profile: The Tepper Foundation


ReFED Donor Profile: The Tepper Foundation

Written by: Sam Buck
  |   September 16, 2022

How do nonprofits and foundations meet? Sometimes it’s through a board or staff member. Sometimes it’s an introduction from a peer or other supporter. Increasingly, philanthropists are seeking the advice and counsel of professionals who help them put their money to work on the issues they care about. That’s the role the Climate Leadership Institute (CLI) plays as they bring more and more funders to address the crisis of climate change. And as a long-time partner of ReFED, CLI made a match in late 2020 that is making big things happen – ReFED and The Tepper Foundation.

Founded in 1996, The Tepper Foundation’s grantmaking has been improving access to life’s most basic needs. Randi Tepper, Chief Operating Officer shared, “These are cornerstone issues. It’s absolutely critical that we provide for that first line of stability. It’s impossible to think about anything else if you don’t have food on your table or a roof over your head.” 

The Foundation has a long history of supporting food access and distribution efforts, helping put those critical needs within reach for the 42 million Americans that are food insecure. Providing food to those who need it most and reinstating dignity into the process is worthy of celebration in its own right, but this support merely represents the starting line of The Tepper Foundation’s impact.

After learning about the breadth of the food waste problem, and its widespread effects from climate to methane to food insecurity, The Foundation was excited to learn more. After gaining more insight into the strong ties between food waste and climate change, they were motivated to act. ReFED brought to the conversation a data-forward approach that was especially appealing to the Foundation. Having identified seven key action areas, and modeled over 40 solutions to reduce food waste, ReFED is able to confidently say that the support of The Tepper Foundation will directly impact food waste reduction. Knowing the scope of the problem, and the fact that solutions are available now, was a critical piece of the Foundation’s decision to support ReFED.  

As Randi shared, “ReFED is taking a data-first approach to illuminate the issue of food loss and waste, building our collective understanding of the connections between food security, climate change, and any number of other pressing environmental issues.” By collecting data and surfacing insights on those connections, ReFED is taking a page out of The Tepper Foundation’s playbook, providing a launchpad for other nonprofits, startups, corporations, and government agencies to design, implement, or improve their own solutions to reducing food loss and waste. While the benefits of this work come in many forms, The Tepper Foundation and ReFED are especially aligned on getting food to people who need it, and reducing food insecurity however possible. 

Alongside general operating support, The Foundation provided seed funding for two of ReFED’s business initiatives, both of which have the potential to become new revenue streams, strengthening ReFED’s balance sheet and limiting reliance on philanthropic gifts in the future. Similar to much of ReFED’s work, these initiatives are centered around empowering businesses to do more of what they are great at, and remain in command of their mission. Efforts like these follow the principle of supporting rather than simply giving, which creates greater longer-term benefits.  

“It’s our hope to be the best partner possible to organizations by providing the capital as well as the non-monetary resources that enable them to fulfill their mission, and create a positive impact on the world. We share the vision that addressing food loss and waste will make a difference for all of us, everywhere,” concluded Randi.


ReFED is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and relies on philanthropic support to build the resources necessary to drive the change our food system demands. If you would like to make a gift or learn more, please contact Shawn Shepherd, Director of Development, at [email protected]

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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