UpStart Kitchen receives $50,000 grant

Shared space would aid urban food entrepreneurs

Attendees at an UpStart Kitchen fundraiser held Aug. 7 at Parklawn Assembly of God.

PRISM Economic Development Corp. has been awarded a $50,000 grant from We Raise Foundation for UpStart Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen planned in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.

Attendees at an UpStart Kitchen fundraiser held Aug. 7 at Parklawn Assembly of God.

An initiative of the Parklawn Assembly of God church, PRISM is a nonprofit that aims to foster economic development and provide services and opportunities to residents of Sherman Park. Its leaders came up with the idea for UpStart Kitchen in 2016 and began fundraising to make it a reality in 2017, said Tom Keppeler, executive director of PRISM.

PRISM has now raised a total of $200,000 in grants and donations, with the aim of raising at least $100,000 more to cover the buildout and first year of operations for UpStart Kitchen in a building across the street from Parklawn, at 4325 W. Fond du Lac Ave., Keppeler said. Park Lawn hosted a fundraiser last week for UpStart Kitchen, which was the initiative’s first public event.

UpStart Kitchen is expected to serve current and aspiring urban food entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to process their food products and grow their businesses. UpStart plans to offer coaching and training in establishing a small business, particularly in the food industry, Keppeler said. Entrepreneurs would pay a low hourly rate to rent out the 1,300-square-foot kitchen, as well as storage space. The goal is to help urban entrepreneurs get started in low-wealth, underserved neighborhoods, he said.

“This isn’t just renting kitchen time and shelf space. Another huge piece of this is the wraparound services we want to bring to the clients in the way of coaches, mentors, subject matter, in how to run a food business,” Keppeler said.

PRISM aims to have a soft opening for UpStart Kitchen by the end of the year.

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