What does Plant Futures Do?
Our mission is to empower college students and young professionals to become the ethical leaders, systems thinkers, and enlightened eaters—Plant Futurists—that our food system needs, now more than ever.
Who are the
Plant Futurists are the pragmatic visionaries and leaders of tomorrow’s plant-centric food system. Driven by the values of ethical leadership, entrepreneurial agency, and systems thinking, Plant Futurists are united by a common vision to transform the food system through the power of plants.
Plants are at the intersection of at least a dozen problems and opportunities in our food system: climate change, public health, food insecurity, biodiversity, food access, diversity and inclusion, soil health, law and policy, technology, food justice, animal welfare, and antibiotic resistance. Driving the rapid emergence of a plant-centric food system is a critical lever of change to creatively address all these issues.
is a bridge
Think of PFI as a bridge: On one side are bright students who are passionate about food system change but have no idea how to change it. On the other side are companies looking for talent and to find innovative solutions to key pain points, but no easy access to talent. That’s where PFI comes in, bridging the gap between students and opportunities to create meaningful livelihoods.
Our network includes three groups of stakeholders: students, partners, and funders. Students benefit from systems education and real-world experience, industry partners from talent recruitment and innovative solutions to key pain points for their organizations, and funders by supporting the next generation of food systems change-makers for cohorts to come.
Who's part of your network?
What does Plant Futures do?
Plant Futures offers innovative programming that’s designed to close the gap between theoretical and applied knowledge, chiefly through our Symposium and Challenge Lab. The Symposium brings together leading voices from different factions of the food system to discuss major topics and critical tensions. The Challenge Lab then pairs top students with industry mentors from our network to develop solutions to key company challenges, as well as potential internship opportunities as pathways to meaningful careers.
Our partner network spans multiple industries and a diverse set of organizations, from CPG companies and venture firms to farming and advocacy organizations. Some of our past Partners include CalDining at UC Berkeley, Miyoko’s Creamery, Blue Horizon, Tofurky, Califia Farms, the Plant Based Foods Association, Diet ID, and Unovis Asset Management.
Who do you partner with for your Challenge Lab?
What kinds of challenges are a good fit?
PFI seeks a diverse mix of challenges as long as they emphasize plants as a solution. This could be in product development and design, marketing and sales, business development, policy, behavior change, supply chains, and more. PFI forms interdisciplinary student teams of 3-4 students who work together on a deliverable for 10 weeks.
Challenge Lab partners are expected to provide support for student teams from at least one mentor through the duration of the semester. Challenge Lab mentors will work closely with the students and the Plant Futures teaching team to scope the challenge, define deliverables, set expectations, provide student feedback, and meet with student teams throughout the duration of the course. There is a sliding scale fee for organizations based on size and capacity.
What do you expect from Challenge Lab partners?
What kinds of students do you recruit?
Interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration is at the core of our program design. We recruit students at all stages of their post-secondary education, from all programs and areas of studies. Through a selective application process, we invite the most talented students with a variety backgrounds, including public health, business, data science, nutrition, and social science. We are currently working on establishing a global network of college chapters.
PFI proactively promotes and organizationally integrates diversity and inclusion via a series of initiatives. These include diverse hiring, need-based scholarships, minority college and organizational outreach, academic and employment mentoring, international/multi-cultural symposia, and an in-house ongoing diversity/cultural inclusion assessment.