December 2016
What: Purple By Night
When: April 30, 2017
Where: The Dawson
Coming this April, we'll be having an adults-only fundraiser at The Dawson. Stay tuned for details to come.

Winter break is almost here and although we embrace some time off from school, we've had such a fantastic first half of the year that we can hardly believe it is already that time!

This year, Purple Asparagus is providing innovative, fun, and effective programming around food that is good for the body and the planet in over 14 schools across Chicago for over 1,000 students monthly. This means we're in more schools, impacting more students with the help of more volunteers than ever before! 

We are thrilled about this but, of course, with growth comes increased pressure on our resources and a greater need to fundraise. That is why I am particularly pleased to share with you that alongside our programmatic successes, this fall we have launched the most robust individual fundraising campaign in the organization's history and have seen inspiring results!  We've had 100% staff participation, 100% board participation, we've seen friends we haven't heard from in a while get back on board, and some of our tried and true regulars step up and dig deep to make meaningful gifts.

This collective effort will bolster us as we head into 2017 and will allow us to continue pursuing opportunities for growth. But we're not done yet. There are a few weeks left of prime giving season and every little bit is vital to our organization. I invite you to be a part of our success by giving what you can today to show that you support  a healthy future for Chicago's youth.

I continue to be deeply grateful to all of those who support us and make our work possible.  Thank you. It is my privilege to send along some recent news and upcoming events.

Wishing you the very best,

Melissa Graham
Head Spear, Purple Asparagus

Some things are just better together - and in the case of donor Tyson Foods it's a winning combination of its time and treasure.
As a partner to Purple Asparagus since 2014, Tyson has donated an impressive amount of funds: nearly $100,000 in 3 years.
"As we got to know the organization more, we started to better understands their needs," said Matt Pakula, senior manager of corporate social responsibility for Tyson Foods. After starting with funding for general programming support for Delicious Nutritious Adventures, it has gradually expanded its giving to fund a full-time Program Coordinator position for Purple Asparagus.
What's a little different from typical donors is Tyson's commitment to providing strategic support for Purple Asparagus. Earlier this year, it assembled a team comprising marketing, strategy and data analytics team members to offer pro-bono professional services and strategy consulting. The team from Tyson made recommendations on which metrics to gather, the  audiences to survey, how often to test and how to test for the most accurate analysis.
"It really allowed for a deeper level of engagement, and our team members really enjoyed lending their professional expertise," said Pakula. "We felt this helped Purple Asparagus extend its reach in a more sustained way."

And of course, the shared values between Tyson and Purple Asparagus makes the relationship even stronger.
"We love being a part of something that helps kids understand, state and touch food for a truly experiential learning experience," said Pakula. "We're committed to the mission, and we're especially committed to the types of students it reaches."

Lead Educator, Greeley Elementary
Our Delicious Nutritious volunteers have a wide variety of backgrounds when it comes to their expertise in the kitchen. But as the owner and executive chef of her own catering company, Heartfelt Catering , Cecelia Hamilton brings an extra level of professionalism to her role as a lead classroom instructor at Greeley Elementary in Chicago.
Purple Asparagus is especially important to Cecelia, as her love for cooking developed from doing preparing food alongside her mother. Working together, she learned the family's long-standing Southern tradition of preparing delicious ingredients made with love for family and friends.
For the last two years, Cecelia has committed to volunteering one day a month and has already found it beyond rewarding to be in a position to teach children about healthful food and cooking, just as her mother taught her.
"It's great to be able to share real-life examples of how I use an ingredient we are focused on in my everyday cooking," says Cecelia. "If you share with the kids how to eat it, they can make more connections and stay more interested and engaged."
One of her favorite parts of volunteering is how naturally curious those in her third-grade classroom have been.
" At this age group, they're naturally curious and usually more willing to try things," she said. "What we're doing at Purple Asparagus is planting a little seed, and you never know when or how it's going to sprout, but you know it will."
What would she say to others who were thinking about getting involved in the classroom?
"The curriculum is incredible - so well done, makes it so much easier because there's a cheat sheet, a detailed outline and other tools," she said. "Even the training video is extremely helpful with reminders and great tips on how to communicate with kids. It's only one day each month, there's so much support, and the preparation gets faster every time."
And to her, it's totally worth it.
"Knowing that the kids are getting a lot out of it and look forward to it makes it all worthwhile," said Cecelia.


Meez Meals: Have you tried Meez Meals? It's Chicago's best meal prep and delivery service with a focus on healthy and local ingredients. Use the coupon code Purple20 to get $20 off your first order, which includes delivery. Click here to visit the site.
Amazon Smile: Each time you make an Amazon purchase is another opportunity to support Purple Asparagus. Simply choose us as your charitable organization and Amazon will donate a 0.5% of the price of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us. There's no cost to you! AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same AmazonPRIME benefits. Click here to associate Purple Asparagus with your account.
Investing In Communities: When you find your realtor through IIC, Purple Asparagus gets 20% of the broker commission. It's a win-win-win: You pick the broker you want, the broker is happy to get your business, and Purple Asparagus gets $500 per $100,000 of the price when you buy or sell a home or lease commercial space. Learn more here

Photograph by Jeffrey Nian


LEAD INSTRUCTORS AND CLASSROOM ASSISTANTS: Want to step inside the classroom to take kids on Delicious Nutritious Adventures? We can't do it without you! Purple Asparagus is always looking for a few good spears to join us in the classroom as assistants to our lead instructors who can help out in the classroom for a half-day. If you love to work with kids and have even the slightest interest in this role, please contact  or 312.906.7622 for a more detailed discussion.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Purple  Asparagus is expanding its board and seeking additional committee members. We need dedicated and passionate individual to help us out with governance, ensuring the board maximizes its effectiveness for the betterment of the organization. We also need an experienced communications chair to over see a communications strategy and calendar that includes electronic, social and print media outlets.
If you're interested in learning more or submitting an application, please contact us at

EVENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS : Purple Asparagus is seeking fun and creative individuals to serve on its event committee members, which will plan our new fundraiser Purple By Night on April 30, 2017 at the Dawson. If you have any questions, think you are the right Spear for the job, or if you know someone who is, please send a resume and cover letter to Stephen Landfear at

WINTER/SPRING INTERN: We're looking for a rock star intern to support our staff and Board in 2017. It's a great opportunity for anyone who is passionate about not-for-profit work, food, and education. 

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Do you have a passion for social media and have ideas on how Purple Asparagus can expand our reach across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more? We'd love to hear from you.

Thank you for your continued support! Sincerely, Purple Asparagus
The Green Exchange Building | 2545 W. Diversey Ave. | Suite 203 | Chicago, IL 60647 | | 773.991.1920

Thank you to Erin Sarris of Spun Copy