The Second Chance Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and part of the Mencher Organization, is a private, non-profit organization formed to help alleviate poverty in South India through local NGO partners. We primarily work with organizations specializing in alternative agriculture, especially alternative approaches being developed by small farmers in India and around the globe. Small farmers were the world’s main producers of food for most of human history, relying on methods that were ecologically sustainable, diverse, and democratic. We believe these methods offer a better alternative to the industrial approach to agriculture that is dominant today, and therefore The Second Chance Foundation is committed to spreading independent farmers’ knowledge through micro/seed grants, research, and writing.
The Second Chance Foundation has provided grants to organizations that promote innovative approaches to agriculture and food supply issues affecting the poor, especially women.
For nearly 20 years we have provided funding for projects related to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), mushroom cultivation, and for projects growing vegetables for local markets in South India, in particular Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India. We have also funded projects relating to:
Training in innovative sustainable , low-input technologies including ecologically-sound methods of intercropping, crop rotations, and tree crops
Introducing new technologies such as SRI cultivation which produces higher yields with less seed, less water, and no artificial inputs
Training workshops to improve individual and group communication skills
The collection and sharing of small farming knowledge, including seed melas
The development of networks between small farmer organizations
The promotion of leadership within and between small farmer organizations
Wayanad, Kerala, India
In India, many landless laborers survive on daily wages obtained from work on local farms. This work is known locally as coolie work. During dry seasons coolie work can be infrequent and insecure, leaving many landless laborers with no money to support and feed their families. Working with our local partner RASTA (rastaindia.org), we provided funds to begin a goat rearing project. The project helped landless women to purchase goats who graze on foliage that grows on roadsides and other minor areas. The goats provide a reliable source of income throughout the year for participating women who sell the goat’s milk, cheese, and kids. Using this money, participating women are able to guarantee their families food and shelter, even during seasons when coolie work is impossible to find.
Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, India
In Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, the state government provided a group of landless women with free land to grow vegetables. Shortly after the purchase, a new government administration had a change of heart and decided to give the land to business interests instead. Our partner GUIDE (Gandhian Unit for Integrated Development Education), helped the landless, dalit women to rent land on which they grew vegetables to eat and to sell. The Second Chance Foundation helped GUIDE to rent this land and provided further funding to construct a vegetable stand in a nearby market to sell the organic vegetables produced by the women. Using this simple infrastructure, the women were able to both grow food to feed their families and earn an income that supported non-food needs.
Natural Disaster Assistance
Tamil Nadu, India
In December of 2004, an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia sent a tsunami crashing against the Southeastern coast of India. The massive wave devastated fishing communities on the coast of Tamil Nadu, destroying homes, docks, boats, and much of the equipment local fisher folk used for their livelihood. Working with GUIDE, the Second Chance Foundation provided funds to buy fishing equipment for local fisherman. Immediately after the Tsunami, the state government provided funds for purchasing fishing boats, but the government did not help purchase fishing nets. The Second Chance Foundation helped fisher folk purchase fishing nets in order to begin earning an income and recover from the destruction of the tsunami.
Joan Mencher, PhD., Managing Director & Chairwoman
Devaraj Mencher Southworth, President & Director
Leela Mencher Southworth, Director, Operations & Chief of Staff
Franklin Southworth, PhD., Director, Communications and Grants
Brenda Biddle, Director, Membership & Planned Giving
Daniel Schneider, Manager, Research & Special Projects
Neil Hussein, Manager, Events & Programming
Copyright. The Second Chance Foundation. 2023