noun: feasibility-the state or degree of being easily or conveniently done.

“the feasibility of a manned flight to Mars”

Building a new grocery store is about as difficult as sending a man to Mars.  That is where Uplift comes in. We know that there is no-one size fits all.  Careful consideration and an in-depth study could make or break the success of your investment.

Uplift believes that food access in underserved communities can become the anchor to fulfill community needs and ensure consistent access to fresh, affordable food.

New supermarket and co-operative development, especially in food deserts, is fraught with complex issues and nuance that go far beyond a layman’s understanding.  Retaining a technical assistance and strategic planning service like Uplift can make your project work.  But why? To start: we always do a comprehensive retail grocery feasibility study.

We love strategic city mapping, demographic information, city revitalization proposals, public health assessments, and grocery leakage numbers – but they cannot tell you by themselves whether a proposed food access solution will work.  We perform a feasibility study so that you can have the essential information to plug into the larger information that you have, whether it is something listed above or something entirely different.

A comprehensive retail grocery feasibility study will tell you what the sales volume potential is, what your competitors are doing, whether your proposed development will be close to the industry average for sales per square foot, and more. Not only is this the correct language to attract a grocery operator, but it is the information we need to teach a new operator how to be profitable.

You want to know what the problems in your city are that have led to a food desert, and so do we – but doing a feasibility study in addition to collecting other information lets us get down to brass tacks:  Can this community support this store, so that this community has sustainable food access for a long time?  Let’s find out together!

Contact Uplift’s Business Development Manager, Lauren Vague Stager at lauren.vague@upliftsolutions.org

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Westville, NJ October 11, 2017-Imagine being ripped away from your family at 16 years old and returning 40 years later to a world you do not recognize.  Paulette is 56 years old and at the age of 16, she was sentenced to life in prison.  Today, Paulette is a student who sits in the front row, determined to graduate the Uplift Workforce reentry program.  Paulette is one of three juvenile lifers in the Workforce Solutions reentry training program. The three of them have a total of 118 years combine and are getting a new chance at starting their lives.

Workforce Solutions is designed to create second-chance employment opportunities for re-entering citizens in and around Philadelphia. On Monday, October 16, 2017, a total of 25 formally incarcerated men and women will graduate a six-week training program and are guaranteed a job at one of the Philadelphia area Brown’s Supermarkets. Join us for a Celebration Graduation on Monday, October 16, 2017, at 2 pm in the Family Life Center at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church 2800 W Cheltenham Ave, Philadelphia, PA.

Uplift taught me something about myself. It has created a sense of pride. This is beyond a job. I have pride for something positive.”-Paulette Carrington 

Annually, over 36,000 people pass through Philadelphia city jails, 18,000 people are released from prison in Pennsylvania and over 300,000 people living in Philly have criminal records. Current laws and perceptions have created barriers for these individuals to achieve permanent long-term employment. Due to a lack of opportunity, many of these individuals decide their only option for survival is to re-engage in past behavior.  This cycle has led to an 80 percent recidivism rate and long-term structural poverty.

Philadelphia is home to the nation’s largest population of juvenile lifers. In 2012, the Supreme Court banned automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

The Uplift Workforce Solutions program is based on rebuilding people and teaching life skills that will benefit them in and out of the workplace.  The hard and soft skills are taught in a classroom environment and each participant that successfully completes the six-week classroom portion of the program will be offered a position at one of Uplift’s partners.

Uplift, to strengthen, heal & inspire; is a national consultancy that supports food businesses, governments, nonprofits, healthcare systems and more to create access to food, access to healthcare, access to capital and access to jobs in underserved communities.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Audrey Fish at 856.471.2008 or email at Audrey.fish@upliftsolutions.org.

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Food as Medicine

by: Julia Hickman, La Salle University Dietetic Intern

The results are in and they are astounding; Philadelphia is sick. According to the 2015 Community Health Assessment (CHA), Philadelphia adult obesity nears 30%. Upon further inspection, there is a high correlation between lower income areas and the prevalence of obesity. 39.2% of adults residing in Upper and Lower North Philadelphia are obese, more than 10% greater than the 2015 national average of 27%. With obesity as a risk factor for hypertension and diabetes, its no surprise the prevalence of hypertension in North Philadelphia nears 40% and diabetes reaches 18%. 1

The current health care model of America focuses on preexisting conditions and prescribing medicine to “fix” the problem. Health care providers focus on reducing elevated blood sugars and pressures but the underlying problem is seldom emphasized. The link between lifestyle factors, diet and exercise is unquestionably linked to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The statement “food as medicine” is no longer a stretch of the imagination but a potential solution to the rising costs of heath care in the United States of America.

According to the US Center of Disease Control (CDC), heart disease and type 2 diabetes are two of the seven chronic diseases along with stroke, cancer, obesity, and arthritis that are the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. It is estimated in 2012, together approximately $245 billion American dollars were lost due to the high costs of diabetic medical bills and reduction of productivity in those with diabetes.2

The ever-growing issue of preventable chronic disease is multifaceted and attributed to a wide variety of factors. Unfortunately, fast food is fast and convenient, while buying fresh healthier options can be more expensive and time consuming.  The CHA went even further to show the high-poverty populations with the highest prevalence of diabetes and hypertension had little to no walkable access to healthy food.1 In lower income areas, with individuals of lower education levels, the link between chronic disease prevention and healthy eating may be unknown. According to the CHA, only 27.8% of adults above the age of 25 in Upper North Philadelphia have completed some college.1

Fortunately, there are organizations on the front lines within Philadelphia working to alleviate these health disparities and push America towards prevention instead of prescriptions. Uplift is one nonprofit creating sustainable access to fresh and healthy food, nutrition education, and health care to underserved communities.

Uplift connects its clients to a registered dietitian, nurse practitioner, family pharmacist, medical assistant, and community resource counselors. The dietitian is able to work one on one with clients free of cost, as well as providing diabetes classes, and shopping tours on how to buy and cook food to get the most nutrition for the lowest cost. The community resource counselors are available to help clients apply for government assistant programs like SNAP.3

While Uplift Health Solutions is in its early stages since its coming to be in 2015, the number of clients in the past two years has increased by 166% and the total interaction from shoppers has increased by 239%.3 Although Uplift Health Solutions is relatively new, the outlook is positive as its services are convenient and provide the community with a means to overcome socioeconomic disparities and improve their health.



  1. Community Health Assessment (CHA) Philadelphia, PA. Phila.gov. http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/2016%20CHA%20Slides_updatedPHC4.pdf. Published December 2016. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  2. Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm. Published June 28, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  3. About. Uplift Solutions. http://upliftsolutions.org/about. Accessed September 27, 2017.
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What does Uplift do?

Uplift has many facets.  However, our Business Development Manager, Lauren Vague Stager has a simple description of who we are, what we do and the important reason to why we do it. 

Uplift is a national non-profit consulting firm that works to create sustainable environments through the creation of new supermarkets in food deserts and underserved communities while benefiting all stakeholders involved.  Although we focus on the creation of new supermarkets, we consistently see four main problems that exist in the 6500+ food deserts across the country.  There’s no food, no healthcare, no money, and no jobs.  Because of these four issues, our work is structured in four primary program areas, Sustainable Food Solutions, Health Solutions, Finance Solutions, and Workforce Solutions. 

Sustainable Food Solutions creates new supermarkets, turns around existing supermarkets that may be in danger of failing, and works on food recovery systems. 

Health Solutions creates in-store health care clinics and offers wrap around nutrition services, including dietitian facilitated Medical Nutrition Therapy, cooking classes and grocery store tours. 

Within Finance Solutions, we have a Community Development Financial Institution that lends money to supermarkets at below market rates, and a Smart Public Incentives Program that works on redevelopment grants and New Market Tax Credits. 

Finally, Workforce Solutions trains re-entering citizens to work in the supermarket industry, guaranteeing them a job at the completion of our program. 

All of these program areas are incredibly important and they all start by leveraging supermarkets as a point of access. 

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Why your next hire should be an ex-convict

It’s not a qualification most businesses have in mind, but some companies are seeing big time value in hiring men and women who were once behind bars.

Uplift Workforce Solutions is a program designed to provide training and employment opportunities for re-entering citizens in and around Philadelphia to successfully reintegrate.  The program focuses on developing both hard and soft skills of the re-entering citizens; whereas, each participant that successfully completes the six-week classroom portion of the program will be directly hired by a partner employer.

“Searching for a job with a criminal record is overwhelming and finding employment is one of the greatest barriers to successful reintegration.  A good job is key to keeping people from returning to prison.”-Barry Johnson, Workforce Director.

One of Uplift’s hiring partners is Brown’s Superstore.  The President and CEO of Brown’s Superstores, Jeff Brown has promised to hire every graduate. “You need an extraordinary amount of motivation to pull yourself up from being a felon because of these obstacles,” he said. “Right off the bat, you can see a person who needs to do it, who must do it, verses one who is indifferent. The story of someone who is going to be successful is that the reason they need to be successful is beyond themselves. It’s family, children, setting an example for their kids, supporting their spouses, often a belief in a higher power.”

Still skeptical about hiring formally incarcerated?   Here’s more incentive.

-Research shows that re-entering citizens are loyal employees.  After having doors closed, you open yours and they will look out for you because you gave them a chance.

-They are being trained and come to you with a valuable skill.  The training teaches soft skills which includes discipline and hard work.

-Finding a job out of prison is not easy for them…once they are hired they are motivated to be a long-term employee and tend to be the employees who get promoted first. They value the chance you gave them and will stay with you longer.

-Finally, hire formally incarcerated men and women you may qualify for tax incentive that will go to your bottom line.

One Workforce Cohort said it best when she spoke at a recent graduation.  “Because of you, because you opened doors for us, we respect that…and we are grateful to you. I’m going to say this to you — we’re going to make you proud.”

The Workforce Solutions program is a six-week training program that provides life skills, job readiness, and technical training to re-entering citizens.  In the first four weeks of training, participants develop the skills necessary to self-evaluate and become self-aware; how to effectively work with others; how to effectively resolve conflict; and how to provide exceptional customer service and sales.  During this time, participants can roleplay the new behaviors.

Uplift Executive Director, Atif Bostic- “We are creating opportunities where they don’t exist.    It’s not about second chances.  It’s about creating opportunities where they don’t exist. We want people who will be good employees.  We are giving people a chance at living the American dream.”

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Contact Audrey Fish                                                                                                                                                                                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Telephone 856.471.2008                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  August 8, 2017
Cell 856.889.5597
Email Audrey.fish@upliftsolutions.org
Website www.upliftsolutions.org


Westville, NJ August 8, 2017–Uplift is working to eliminate a food desert in Waterloo, Iowa.   Local developer, Rodney Anderson received a unanimous approval from the City Council to move ahead with a plan to build a supermarket in the Walnut neighborhood.  A locally owned and run supermarket is the vision of developer, Rodney Anderson who was born and raised in Waterloo.  The 26,000-square foot supermarket will bring health food access to a neighborhood who has not had a grocery store in over a decade.

What is now an empty lot in a community without food access, will soon be a supermarket full of fresh and healthy food which will be in walking distance for many in the in the Walnut neighborhood.  The supermarket will bring up to 80 jobs to the community.  Uplift, a national nonprofit with expertise in developing supermarkets in underserviced communities is a partner on the project.

We are thrilled to be working in Waterloo with Mr. Anderson.  A supermarket does more than sell food.  It also builds up a community and can become an anchor to fulling community needs and ensure consistent access to fresh and affordable health food.”-Atif Bostic, Uplift’s Executive Director      

Uplift is working with Central Holdings, LLC, to obtain federal, state, and local incentives to create a financing package that benefits all stakeholders involved.  In addition, Uplift is working to develop tan overall business plan and technical assistance package to secure a successful supermarket business in the Waterloo community.  These services include but are not limited to community engagement, marketing support, and vetting and hiring a General Manager for the store.

Uplift, to strengthen, heal & inspire; is a national consultancy that supports food businesses, governments, nonprofits, healthcare systems and more to create access to food, access to healthcare, access to capital and access to jobs in underserved communities.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Audrey Fish at 856.471.2008 or email at Audrey.fish@upliftsolutions.org.

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