Our History

In 2010, Hopelink led an effort to research community awareness of and attitudes towards local hunger. The results led to the formation of an intriguing model of engagement and action later to be called Nourishing Networks.

Nourishing Networks recognizes that the key to a hunger-free community rests in the hands of the citizens taking action. The network model supported passionate and diverse community members in a self-organized, self- sustainable way by connecting new and existing local projects to a larger network of people and organizations.

After learning of the extent of hunger among the children within the communities, those involved in Nourishing Networks developed a profound sense of ownership of resolving this issue. These newly formed networks brought together several hundred people from diverse sectors and cultures sharing their ideas, experience, resources, as well as existing work to help leverage the will of the community in new and deeply personal ways.

Nourishing Networks became an independent entity in July 2012, and left Hopelink, where it was officially founded. The Center for Ethical Leadership became Nourishing Networks fiscal sponsor and partner. In 2014, Nourishing Networks became an official organization under the name Nourishing Networks Central (NNC or The Central).

The Central’s purpose is to provide real time applied learning and adaptation support to the local and regional Nourishing Networks. It role is part think tank to encourage new thinking; part incubator to encourage innovation; and part change agent to increase locally-based grounded action.


Since 1991, the Center for Ethical Leadership (CEL) has engaged with more than 15,000 people from 30 states and 35 countries. We envision healthy, just, and inclusive communities, where people and groups collectively define and create social change. Our mission is to cultivate leadership and build capacity for change, helping communities tap collective wisdom in service of the common good. Part think tank, incubator, and change agency, we invite people to reach across boundaries, build trust, and lead from their core values to advance change.

In early 2011, while Nourishing Networks was forming as an initiative of Hope-link, the Center for Ethical Leadership was brought on board to bring their:

  • cutting edge leadership knowledge base
  • research and design expertise for new models of community engagement
  • expertise in transformative social change strategies
  • facilitation and coaching skills

Since those early days, CEL has been a partner in developing, shaping and implementing the NN initiative. So it made sense for CEL to host the next round of incubation starting in July of 2012 through February of 2014 when NNC launched. CEL has taken a lead role in researching and applying network principles in the development of materials and processes such as principles, practices, design of gatherings and the architecture of network meetings. CEL has also provided coaching and facilitation for leadership teams to support the formation and development of local Nourishing Networks.

CEL continues to be a partner, capturing and documenting lessons, expanding understanding of application of network principles, offering coaching support, and co-designing gatherings and trainings for NNs.

For more information, please visit the website by clicking here.

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