TERI Organic Microgreens Enterprise Expansion Creating Opportunity for People with Special Needs

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The TERI 2,400 square feet greenhouse expansion and addition of staff will allow TERI to produce three times more microgreens involving more vocational students from TERI’s adult program.

We are always looking for meaningful, skill-building vocational opportunities for our adults,” said TERI CEO Cheryl Kilmer, “That’s why we created a program that doesn’t end with empowering our own vocational students, but one that is sustainable and revenue-generating.

Southern California nonprofit TERI Inc. is embarking on a major expansion to one of its largest social enterprises, TERI Organic Microgreens. In response to increased customer demand, the TERI Organic Microgreens Program is building two new 1200 square feet greenhouses and adding more urban farmers to supply product to its growing restaurant customer base, all the while providing the needed program assistance to TERI vocational students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who benefit from the venture.

The expansion project is made possible by investment grants totaling $115,000 from The Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation and The Westreich Foundation. TERI is seeking an additional $35,000 to reach its goal to complete its microgreens expansion project.

TERI launched its community outreach micro-business in 2011 with one greenhouse to create daily vocational and skill-building opportunities for adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as to create a sustainable, revenue generating program which serves as a model for other organizations to replicate. After completion the three greenhouses will total 3,600 square feet on 1.5 acres of land.

The popular, nutrient-dense microgreens are grown, harvested, and delivered by TERI’s vocational students to more than 17 restaurants in North San Diego. The greenhouse expansion and addition of staff will allow TERI to produce three times more microgreens involving more vocational students from TERI’s adult program. With the increase in product, TERI will be able to better serve existing customers as well as add restaurants and other new customers that have been on a wait list.

“We are always looking for meaningful, skill-building vocational opportunities for our adults,” said TERI CEO Cheryl Kilmer, “That’s why we created a program that doesn’t end with empowering our own vocational students, but one that is sustainable and revenue-generating so that it can be replicated in other communities. This is a growing need nationwide.”

“We are honored to help fund the microgreens expansion project. The Legacy chose to fund the project because, as a Foundation that has been funding nonprofit organizations in San Diego for the past 17 years, we make sure our donations stay in our San Diego community and 'move the needle' in the organization, so we can make a significant difference in the lives of the people served,” said Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation Founder, Rolf Benirschke and Executive Committee Member and wife, Mary Benirschke. “The TERI Organic Microgreens Program does just that! Not only is TERI an unknown jewel in our community of how people with disabilities should be treated and honored, the microgreens project is a business model that is self-sustaining and gives people with autism and developmental disabilities the chance to work in every facet of a business and feel accomplished.”

"The Westreich Foundation funds for impact. When I toured the microgreen's project, I could see that this could be an even bigger revenue generator for TERI with a larger investment,” said Westreich Foundation President, Ruth Westreich. “I was so impressed with the people running the project, and when I saw the clients and how invested they were in cultivating and growing the microgreens, I could see that an investment for impact from The Westreich Foundation and others would have a big payoff."

Work on the TERI Organic Microgreens Program expansion project has officially begun and is slated for completion in early 2018.

About TERI Inc.
TERI Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1980, is changing the way the world sees and empowers people with special needs. TERI specializes in setting quality standards for individuals of all ages with a wide range of developmental and learning disabilities, and supporting their families. TERI serves over 650 clients in Southern California with more than 18 programs based at its main campus in Oceanside, California as well as in residential homes throughout the area. The organization’s more than 450 dedicated staff members provide educational, social, and vocational opportunities in a positive, supportive environment. TERI has been nationally and internationally recognized as a leader for its successful and innovative model programming and training. For more information, please visit: http://www.teriinc.org.

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Susan Almon-Pesch
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