Whole Foods Market Receives Market Maker of the Year Award

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Rising Tide Capital honors Whole Foods Market for dedication to providing healthy food to urban communities through Whole Cities initiative.

Nicole Silva, co-owner of West Orange-based DollyMoo Body, presents the Market Maker of the Year award to Michael Sinatra, Public Relations, Public Affairs & Social Media at Whole Foods Market.

After taking the initiative to bring healthy food and healthy food education to inner city communities through Whole Cities, we realized that when you take a risk and follow a mission that aligns with your values you can create meaningful change.

Last Thursday, Whole Foods Market, the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket, received the 2014 Market Maker of the Year Award during the Third Annual Start Something Champions Gala hosted by Jersey City nonprofit, Rising Tide Capital (RTC). The retailer was recognized for its entrepreneurial vision and dedication to bringing fresh, organic food to the inner city through its Whole Cities Initiative and its commitment to empowering its stores to become community anchors through investment in local entrepreneurs.

“Thank you so much for honoring Whole Foods as the Market Maker of the Year. We are proud to share our common values around supporting entrepreneurs in underserved communities with RTC. After taking the initiative to bring healthy food and healthy food education to inner city communities through Whole Cities, we realized that when you take a risk and follow a mission that aligns with your values you can create meaningful change in the world. This is the true definition of an entrepreneur,” said Co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb.

Hosted at the Hyatt Regency on the Hudson, Rising Tide Capital also honored the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation, New Jersey City University and Numi Tea. Each organization was recognized for their dedication to entrepreneurship, job creation, setting the industry standard in sustainability and their commitment to supporting undeserved communities.

The Champions Gala is the culmination of RTC’s Start Something Challenge which empowers New Jersey entrepreneurs to network, perfect an elevator pitch, gain exposure and win business financing. The Gala convened 250 local and national entrepreneurs to honor and award $25,000 in cash prizes to the Start Something Challenge winners. In three years, The Champions Gala has raised more than 1 million dollars in funds to support entrepreneurship development in underserved communities throughout New Jersey and provide scholarships for struggling entrepreneurs to receive business training through the Community Business Academy (CBA).

“This year’s Champions Gala recognizes all engines of our local economy, from small business owners such as first place winner of the Start Something Challenge Ninotchka Johnson, to a national leader like Walter Robb who received the Market Maker of the Year award on behalf of Whole Foods Market,” said CEO of Rising Tide Capital Alfa Demmellash. “ Their size and scale might be radically different, but it takes businesses of all sizes to promote a healthy, thriving economy.”

Rising Tide Capital (RTC) is a Jersey City-based nonprofit organization founded in 2004 by Harvard graduates Alex Forrester and Alfa Demmellash. RTC helps entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses by providing a 12-week Community Business Academy—supplemented by year-round workshops, coaching and networking events. These programs are currently offered in Spanish and in English in four cities across Northern New Jersey: Jersey City, Newark, Union City, and Orange Township. As of January, 838 entrepreneurs have graduated from the CBA and together, they operate over 403 businesses in New Jersey. RTC’s model of entrepreneurship development has received national recognition from President Obama to CNN Heroes.

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Shanea Phillips
Rising Tide Capital
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