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Brooklyn Community Foundation Announces $2.3 Million in New Support for Brooklyn Nonprofits


Brooklyn Community Foundation, the largest public philanthropy in the borough, has awarded its first round of 2011 grants totaling $2.3 million to 118 nonprofits working in five strategic areas of focus: Education and Youth Achievement, Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, and Green Communities. Since its launch as a Brooklyn’s first community foundation in 2009, it has awarded more than $10 million to Brooklyn’s most effective nonprofit organizations.

“Brooklyn is New York City’s largest borough, yet philanthropic giving to Brooklyn lags far behind giving to Manhattan based organizations,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber. “Our role is to narrow that gap by attracting new donors to Brooklyn to help address the borough’s critical needs. We can improve the lives of Brooklynites now and in the future by investing in the people and organizations that understand local needs and can provide the best and most effective approaches to serving their communities.”

View the full list of 2011 Cycle 1 grants:

Reaching Far through Five Giving Areas

The Foundation has developed five Field of Interest Funds to address the array of issues affecting the lives of Brooklynites:

- EDUCATION AND YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT - $635,500 to 29 nonprofits to ensure that children and adults have access to superior educational opportunities that encourage career interests, mentoring relationships and development of leadership skills.

- ARTS FOR ALL - $535,000 to 31 nonprofits that provide access, enlightenment and enjoyment for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities—through programs in schools, local theaters, museums, institutes and public spaces.

- CARING NEIGHBORS - $400,000 to 21 nonprofits that help families, seniors, the disabled and others who face immediate or longer-term threats of hunger, homelessness, isolation, or unmet health needs.

- COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT - $400,000 to 14 nonprofits working to boost neighborhoods through affordable housing and workforce development programs, while encouraging urban planning and historic preservation initiatives.

- GREEN COMMUNITIES - $260,500 to 12 nonprofits to increase and sustain open space and waterfront access, encourage green practices and healthy food initiatives, and help create green job opportunities.

Neighborhood-Focused Giving

As one of the most culturally diverse and economically mixed areas in the United States, Brooklyn’s 70 neighborhoods present many challenges for potential donors. The Foundation’s neighborhood-oriented approach has demonstrated that through patient but targeted grantmaking, substantial and lasting impact can be made.

This cycle includes 30 grants targeted towards Central Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Brownsville communities, which rank among the highest in the city’s poverty and infant mortality rates—and lowest in graduation and employment rates. These grants come from across the Foundation’s five giving areas, offering a holistic view of community improvement, and include:

- a $25,000 Education and Youth Achievement grant to Groundwork, Inc to provide college prep and workforce development for high school students;

- a $50,000 Arts for All grant to the Weeksville Heritage Center for programs at its new Education & Cultural Arts Building on the site of the first free African-American community in New York state;

- a $15,000 Caring Neighbors grant to the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger to support the food pantry’s annual distribution of 1.1 million meals;

- a $25,000 Community Development grant to Pratt Area Community Council for economic initiatives like the “Rolling Up the Gates” storefront stroll on Fulton Street;

- And a $5,500 Green Communities grant to the Hattie Carthan Community Garden for a food justice training series.

Other neighborhoods of focus in this grantmaking cycle include Red Hook, East New York, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, Bushwick/Williamsburg, and Flatbush/East Flatbush.

Small Grants, Big Possibilities

The Brooklyn Community Foundation nurtures new ideas for addressing community needs not only financially, but through access to community leaders and links to peer groups, to help organizations grow intelligently and be ripe for greater investment over time.

In 2002, Brooklynite Aaron Zimmerman set out to create a setting where typically “voiceless” members of society—residents of public housing, at-risk youth, seniors and the formerly incarcerated—could put their stories to paper. Starting with just a few volunteers, Aaron established the New York Writers Coalition (NYWC). The program was an instant success, yet had no funding to grow. A $500 micro grant from the Brooklyn Community Foundation (then known as the private Independence Community Foundation) in 2003 was the first grant NYWC received, and commenced a partnership that has flourished in the years since. The Foundation has greatly increased its annual support—granting $10,000 in this cycle to its free Brooklyn writing programs—as well as connected NYWC with other funders, and steered the group toward a permanent space at the 80 Arts Building in Fort Greene. Now one of the nation’s largest writing communities, NYWC serves 1,000 New Yorkers annually, providing free and low-cost workshops, producing dynamic community events, and publishing nearly 40 collections of its writers’ work.

Carrying on this approach, eleven of the 2011 grants are under $5,000 and will help launch enterprises like Actionplay at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for children with autism, the burgeoning Lefferts Community Food Cooperative, and Sustainable Flatbush’s Church Avenue Communal Garden.

Grantmaking to Increase Giving

To entice more people to give in Brooklyn, the Foundation has designated 17 grants as “challenges,” which encourage grantee partners to leverage their awards into additional funding from donors and supporters—thereby potentially doubling the initial grant’s impact. Among the challenge grant partners are Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Coney Island, USA, New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn Arts Exchange and the Prospect Park Alliance.

“We encourage all Brooklynites to join us and ‘Do Good Right Here,’ by giving and serving in their communities" added Gelber. “Together, we will make New York City’s best borough better for everyone.”

Brooklyn Community Foundation is now accepting letters of inquiry for its Cycle 2 grants through July 31, with awards to be announced in December. Eligible nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply at


About Brooklyn Community Foundation
Brooklyn Comm¬¬unity Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of people in Brooklyn by strengthening communities through local giving, grantmaking and community service. The first and only one of its kind in Brooklyn, the Foundation was founded in 2009 to support the borough’s most effective nonprofits in five Field of Interest Funds: Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, and Green Communities. Thanks to a start-up gift from the Independence Community Foundation, 100% of all donations to the Brooklyn Community Foundation are tax deductable.
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