Providing grants to organizations that promote innovative approaches to food supply affecting the poor and women

Committed to making a difference by helping to alleviate poverty in South India

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:

Our Work

Goat Farming

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 workDuring 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 (, 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.

Vegetable Production

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


Linda Basch, Ph.D.
Deborah D’ Amico, Ph.D.
Barbara Johnston, Ph.D.
Ranjani Mazumdar, Ph.D.
Ravi Sundaram, Ph.D.
Suneeta Krishnan, Ph.D.

Copyright. The Second Chance Foundation. 2023