Alchemist CDC

Catalyst for Change

aka Alchemist Community Development Corporation   |   Sacramento, CA   |


Alchemist CDC connects communities to land, food and opportunity toward a vision in which all neighborhoods are vibrant, equitable, healthy and diverse.

Notes from the nonprofit

Due to the impact of COVID-19, shifting due dates, and an urgent need for a PPP Loan at the outset of 2020, the 2019 990 was completed late in the year. It will be uploaded soon. An updated Annual Report will be available in Quarter 1, 2021.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Sam Greenlee

Main address

4625 44th Street, Ste 33

Sacramento, CA 95820 USA

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NTEE code info

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Alchemist seeks to address the three interlocking problems of environmental injustice, food insecurity, and economic inequality. The most vulnerable people in our communities face not just one challenge, but a system of connected barriers and threats that make it difficult for them to thrive. Very often, the same people: - lack secure access to nutritious food - lack access to land on which they could grow their own food - have fewer parks and green spaces available in their neighborhood - suffer disproportionately from various forms of pollution - have few or no connections to assist them in pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions that might improve their economic status - etc. Due to the multifaceted problem, there is a need for a multifaceted response.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Alchemist Kitchen

Alchemist Kitchen addresses the main barriers to success for emerging food businesses through a two-phased program structure, which provides support and builds business acumen. Alchemist Microenterprise Academy (AMA) is a 12-week business training course covering the fundamentals of starting a food business. Topics range from financial literacy and legal business structures to recipe development and safe food handling. After graduating AMA, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to apply to the Incubator Program.

The Incubator Program provides customized technical assistance, mentorship, and low-cost commercial kitchen access. Incubator businesses work closely with Alchemist CDC staff to further develop their businesses, build assets, and create individualized benchmarks to ensure accountability and a progression plan for eventual graduation. Alchemist CDC also leverages our own connections to help connect Incubator participants to opportunities, small business loans, and more.

Consistent with Alchemist CDC's mission, Alchemy Kitchen primarily serves entrepreneurs from low-income backgrounds and under-resourced communities.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
People with disabilities
Ethnic and racial groups
Immigrants and migrants

Alchemist CDC operates CalFresh payment processing at 9 Sacramento area farmers' markets. This program brings equitable access to farmers' markets by providing systems necessary for CalFresh/Food Stamps recipients to use their benefits to buy fresh, healthy, local produce. (CalFresh provides qualifying lower income individuals financial assistance in purchasing food for themselves and their families.) This program contributes to the direct sales of local small and mid-sized family farms, and stimulates attendance at farmers markets, enhancing the local economy. Through community partnerships, every booth location provides CalFresh eligibility screening, application assistance and can answer common customer questions about this essential government program .

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Children and youth
Non-adult children
People with disabilities
Refugees and displaced people

Market Match is an incentive program offered to CalFresh recipients exclusively at farmers' markets, enabling them to purchase more fruits and vegetables while simultaneously stretching their food budget. Alchemist CDC facilitates the use of Market Match funds, outreach support and operations training at 18 farmers' markets and farm stands in the greater Sacramento region. When customers spend their CalFresh benefits at these markets, they earn additional Market Match dollars to purchase fresh, seasonal produce. (Maximum Market Match offered per person per market day varies by location, between $5-$20). This program not only benefits the CalFresh user, but supports our local growers who would not otherwise have a way to accept this vital food security benefit. We are proud to be making farmers' markets more sustainable and contributing to the positive economic impact they have on the community.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Alchemist CDC is committed to working with local neighbors to support grassroots efforts to solve community problems and pursue visions of the common good.

We believe that communities have within themselves the vision, passions, and ability to do good and great things. We also recognize that many great ideas can be held back by the need for formal organizational structure. We see our role in the community as providing the structure and support of a trellis on which the vines of grassroots collaboration can grow, flourish, and bear fruit.

In this capacity, Alchemist is best known for our Land-Based Work. Through these projects, we help transform blighted land into vibrant, neighborhood amenities through direct community engagement, design, and hands-on participation in creating public gardens and community gathering spaces.

We have also begun to pursue neighborhood empowerment through Fiscal Sponsorship. Through fiscal sponsorship, we are able to serve as an administrative “home” for a grassroots cause. This allows a community group to do good work and access donations and grants before they are officially a 501c3 non-profit organization. At present, we have the capacity for just one fiscal sponsorship arrangement but plan to build our capacity for this in the future.

We also strive to be nimble in helping the community to respond to urgent needs and immediate opportunities with one-off projects like pop-up cooling stations in the midst of a heat wave.

Our Land-Based Neighborhood Empowerment projects include:
Oak Park Sol Community Garden
An artistic gate, slightly ajar, leading to the community garden.

Oak Park Sol Community Garden
A publicly accessible community garden in the heart of Oak Park. This garden grew out of a neighborhood desire to have a creative green space that could serve as a place to grow food, demonstrate sustainable practices, share knowledge, and build community connectivity.

Oak Park Art Garden
This project is utilizing a land lease agreement with an option to buy to gain access; the property is privately owned. The community is creating a wide array of interactive art and garden projects that will begin the transformation of this high visibility corner lot in Oak Park. This will also become Sacramento’s first publicly accessible Community Food Forest project.

Pansy Community Garden Park
Alchemist CDC acquired ownership of a vacant parcel on Pansy Avenue in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento. We are working with neighbors to convert this previously vacant lot into a community park and garden.

Our Fiscal Sponsorship projects include:
Community Connections 95820
This project represents a collaborative effort between multiple local organizations and elementary schools and is connecting families and neighborhoods so that our most vulnerable families can meet their basic needs during COVID-19. Alchemist serves as the project’s fiscal sponsor.

Population(s) Served
Social and economic status
Children and youth

Where we work


ASLA Communities Grant Program 2020

American Society of Landscape Architects Sierra Chapter

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of CalFresh transactions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Economically disadvantaged people, Refugees and displaced people, Children and youth, Non-adult children

Related Program

CalFresh: Connecting Families to Farmers

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Dollar amount of CalFresh and Market Match distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Social and economic status, Economically disadvantaged people, Refugees and displaced people, Children and youth

Related Program

Market Match- incentive program to encourage healthy eating

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our mission is to connect Sacramento-area communities to land, food, and opportunity, toward a vision in which all neighborhoods are vibrant, equitable, diverse, and healthy.

Vibrant, diverse, healthy and equitable communities that are informed by the needs and wishes of residents.
Vibrant: Neighborhoods are full of creative residents with the best ideas for improving their communities – we are here to help develop and educate residents as a way to strengthen communities.

Equitable: Social justice in community development means that all residents should contribute to and benefit from economic and physical development in their neighborhoods – authority needs to be held accountable.

Diverse: Community health is strengthened by having residents of diverse ethnicity, economic level, cultural background, age and interest.

Healthy: Address social determinants of health. These structural determinants and conditions in which people are born, grow, live, and work include factors like socioeconomic status, education, the physical environment, employment, and social support networks, as well as access to health care. We strive to level the playing field with a holistic view of health and wellbeing.

Education, infrastructure, access and affordability all factor into our strategies.

Access and affordability: We first look to improve access to existing resources within a community (e.g., ensuring that people can utilize public assistance benefits at farmers' markets and neighborhood stores; Providing financial incentives to help stretch food budgets for low-income populations);

Education: We address motivation and self-empowerment through education (e.g., teaching a 12 week course on the fundamentals of starting a food business);

Infrastructure: Where infrastructure supports are missing, we seek to create or attract the necessary components (e.g., creative re-use and reclaiming of vacant spaces, a commercial kitchen incubator to provide opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures that build financial sustainability and create jobs).

Alchemist maximizes its resources to get the most of our programs. With a small but committed staff and a network of volunteers, interns and partners we are able to effectively serve thousands of individuals across the greater Sacramento region.

Alchemist CDC has developed a reputation for our food access work and we are able to utilize our position to advocate and to serve.

Alchemist CDC worked with legislative staff and advocacy organizations to provide input on the "EBT access at Farmers' Markets" bill (AB537) that passed in late 2010 to allow third-party entities to operate EBT processing systems at farmers' markets where the market operators were unable or unwilling to. We began bringing CalFresh processing to farmers' markets in the greater Sacramento area in 2011. Since then we have grown the number of markets served as well as customers served each year. While we have grown to serve thousands of individuals in the greater Sacramento area, we know there are still CalFresh customers who do not know they can use their benefits at the farmers' market and we believe we can further grow our numbers and improve healthy food access for lower-income families.

Our Neighborhood Empowerment program has seen success through the Oak Park Sol Community Garden, and the early stages of development and community engagement at the Oak Park Art Garden. The Pansy Community Garden Park has received building permits and should be completed in 2021. We are pursuing a major grant that, if awarded, would allow for the completed development of the Oak Park Art Garden. Following that, we will be able to develop, on-site, the Oak Park Tool Library, a community-powered lending library of tools. We are also pursuing the expansion of our fiscal sponsorship program to provide an administrative home for more grassroots community organizations.

Our Alchemist Kitchen program has completed three cohorts in the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy, and is about to open admission to the third cohort of the Incubator Program. In addition to maintaining and growing these programs, we are working to develop an Alchemist Kitchen brand identity that can help open opportunities for our program participants and pursuing development of a property as an Incubator Hub and shared-use commercial kitchen.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Several months ago, we received feedback that--while we operate well as a community-based non-profit--we do not fill the role of Community Development Corporation promised by our name. That is, the respondent felt that we are not engaged as we should be with housing development. This sparked internal discussion and the re-affirmation that the direct development of housing is presently beyond our organizational mission and capacity. It also led to the recognition that we could be more involved in equitable housing development without having to directly develop housing ourselves. Since that time, our Executive Director has joined a local land trust with a focus on housing development and we have become more engaged in policy meetings and public comment on behalf of the need for housing.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback


Alchemist CDC

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Alchemist CDC

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Jamie Cutlip


Matthew Joy


Elizabeth Smoker

CA Food and Farming Network

Matt Read

City of Sacramento

Jamila Bebe Khan

Sacramento 365

Shawn Mainville

CA Dept. of Social Services

Mary Martin-Mabry

UC Davis

Sarah Dillon

California ReLeaf

Ravenn Moon

CA Department of Developmental Services

Jamie Cutlip


Saige White

Sacramento County Regional Parks

Jeff Jelsma

CA Dept of Financial Protection & Innovation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/15/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/14/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.