Chipotle Mexican Grill, Denver, Colo., announced that the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation will sponsor the first Chipotle Aluminaries Project, a 7-month accelerator program designed to help growth-stage ventures better the world and take their businesses to the next level.

Beginning Sept. 12, food-focused companies may submit applications to join a cohort of ventures that will receive mentorship and direct coaching from world-renowned industry leaders, participate in a boot camp, receive a Chipotle celebrity card and be fueled by Chipotle catering.

"Chipotle has been committed to the future of food with integrity since opening our first restaurant 25 years ago," says Brian Niccol, chief executive officer. "Since then, Chipotle and its foundation have changed how customers and the industry think about food, which is part of our mission to cultivate a better world. By sponsoring the Chipotle Aluminaries Project, we're looking to advance the work of the next generation of entrepreneurs who are disrupting the food landscape. Are you using technology to make an impact? Are you dreaming up the next sustainable food innovation? If so, we want to support you and help share your story."

The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation will select up to eight ventures to join the first cohort. Those ventures will receive support and mentorship from industry leaders like:

  • Richard Blais, a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality and winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars.
  • Kimbal Musk, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and restaurateur who sits on the boards of directors of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Tesla Inc. and SpaceX.

Ventures will also work closely with Chipotle executives such as Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer; Caitlin Leibert, director of sustainability; Laurie Schalow, chief communications officer; and Tressie Lieberman, vice president of digital marketing and off premise.

"The Chipotle Aluminaries Project is part of a fresh perspective from the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which we founded in 2011 to extend our commitment to creating a more sustainable food future," says Leibert. "Chipotle believes that philanthropy is more than check cutting, and this is the first of many efforts from the Cultivate Foundation of investing in new ways."

The Chipotle Aluminaries Project will be launched in partnership with Uncharted, a Denver, Colo.-based organization that uses the DNA of an entrepreneurial accelerator to tackle major social problems like urban poverty and food deserts.