Companies have gone all out in terms of charitable giving this holiday season, and I was overjoyed to learn about the route Conagra Brands has taken. Conagra recently announced that it is teaming up with Grammy award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper to create a new food packaging design mentorship program. In collaboration with SocialWorks, the charitable organization founded by Chance, the program made way for an iconic new Duncan Hines® Holiday Baking Kit Box which features a festive illustration by Devin Brown, a local student.
"Conagra's ongoing commitment to community investment and innovation in food enables us to continue supporting SocialWorks and the Chicago community that's home to our company's headquarters," said Lori Cerwin, Senior Director of Brand Design and Innovation for Conagra Brands. "Our employees were inspired to deliver on Conagra's promise to increase efforts that meaningfully engage with diverse communities. Together, we used the development of our Duncan Hines sweet treats brand to give local youth a hands-on opportunity to develop their professional skills and ultimately help people have some holiday baking fun at home."
The mentorship program, activated through an open call for high school students in SocialWorks' network to apply, allowed Chicago youth to directly participate in a six-week food packaging design project.
A press release explained that six students were chosen and paired with a Conagra Brands employee design mentor to be guided through the process of developing creative assets to debut the Duncan Hines Holiday Baking Kit Box. The program culminated in the selection of one student's illustration to be featured on the final packaging.
"This opportunity with Conagra and SocialWorks opened my eyes to other avenues that I could pursue with my art," said artist and student, Devin Brown. "Overall the experience helped enhance my creativity as an artist."
Conagra Brands began its partnership with Chance the Rapper in 2017 in response to his commitment to donate $1 million in funding to Chicago Public Schools and encouragement of local companies to help the cause.
"SocialWorks loves to create collaborative opportunities for students to design, learn, and share their voice. We're glad to do it once again with Conagra," said SocialWorks' Executive Director, Justin Cunningham. "We encourage the Chicago business community to reach out and join local nonprofits in advocating for student success and creating pathways to do so."
The Conagra Brands Foundation initially committed $300,000 to SocialWorks' New Chance Fund through a multi-year grant, providing $100,000 each year to Chicago Public Schools over the course of three years. To date, the New Chance Fund has impacted 51 schools and more than 6,800 students. Additionally, Conagra has helped SocialWorks to provide meals to Chicagoans experiencing food insecurity, cooked for its summer youth groups, and raised funds for other charitable initiatives as an inaugural gala sponsor.
Hats off to all of our food industry champions who are leading the charge of giving back.