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History of Roots & Wings Program

Roots & Wings began in 2002 through collaboration with Northwest Community Center, and spread to other sites across the city, including the Salvation Army Kilburn Community Center, Concord Commons, Friends House, and Comprehensive Community Solutions.

Key funding partners in the early years of the project included Heifer International, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, General Mills Foundation and the United Way of the Rock River Valley.

Accomplishments include:

  • Hundreds of youth gained leadership skills while learning about farming and healthy eating.
  • Thousands of pounds of food distributed to the community.
  • Roots and Wings teens represented Rockford at the national Rooted in Community conference since 2006. Youth led workshops and contributed to the Youth Food Bill of Rights.
  • Youth initiated community service projects, ranging from litter clean-up to the nationally acclaimed Cares and Shares program.
  • Two urban farm businesses started.
  • Three cycles of out-of-school youth received vocational training in urban agriculture through the Eco-Advocates program.
  • Over 1.25 acres of urban land managed for urban agriculture production at two sites.