How would your organization use $100 million? That question could be daunting to some nonprofit leaders, but not to Brandon E. Chrostowski, Founder of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute.
He’s been turning big dreams into reality since opening EDWINS in 2013—a fine dining restaurant in Cleveland that is a culinary training ground for people leaving jail and prison. Because of the job training, housing, and other supports they find at EDWINS, program graduates are employed in Cleveland’s best restaurants and stay out of jail.
But Brandon’s dreams are bigger yet. In 2016, he announced EDWINS as a contender for 100&Change, a contest of the MacArthur Foundation to award $100 million to a single grantee to solve a major problem.
“We entered the competition with an ambitious vision: to end society’s exploitation of inner-cities and their residents who are returning home from prison,” Brandon explains. “We aim to start by remaking one Cleveland neighborhood into a self-sustaining village, where everyone has equal opportunity to learn a trade, hold a job, and build a better future.”
Over two months, a Grants Plus team helped Brandon take his vision from a concept into a detailed and compelling plan.
“It’s a brief grant application,” Brandon explains. “The challenge was finding the right words and phrasing to pack big ideas into very tight space. I was able to count on Grants Plus to do that so I could stay focused on planning and decision making.”
Nearly 2,000 nonprofits and for-profits around the world entered the grant competition. Though EDWINS was ultimately not selected to win the grant, the experience of articulating his plans sets Brandon up to champion an even bolder and bigger vision for EDWINS in the future. +