Brooklyn Community Foundation Awards $2 Million in 2015 to Nonprofits Empowering Borough’s Vulnerable Youth

Monday, November 23, 2015
Brooklyn Community Foundation Awards $2 Million in 2015 to Nonprofits Empowering Borough’s Vulnerable Youth
Brooklyn Community Foundation is pleased to announce 54 new grants from its cornerstone "Invest in Youth" initiative, bringing total funding for programs serving Brooklyn youth to over $2 million in 2015.
The Foundation, the first and only dedicated to New York City’s largest borough, launched Invest in Youth in May with a 10-year, $25 million commitment to improving social and economic opportunities and outcomes for 16- to 24-year-olds, particularly young people of color.
The initiative stems directly from the Foundation’s 2014 community engagement project, Brooklyn Insights, which involved conversations with nearly 1,000 Brooklynites on challenges in their communities and where they see promise for change. The top concern across neighborhoods was the future of young people, and the need to address intersecting issues including neighborhood-based opportunity, the criminal justice system, immigrant communities, and racial inequity.
Almost half a million Brooklyn residents are between the ages of 16 and 24—more than 35% of whom live below the federal poverty line. Over 40% of Brooklynites are foreign-born and half of all households’ speak a language other than English. In some neighborhoods, nearly 40% of youth are not in school and not working. Citywide, one in four incarcerated youth come from just six Brooklyn neighborhoods.
“We believe that by investing heavily in Brooklyn’s youth we are investing in a better future for Brooklyn—one that is vastly more equitable and offers more opportunity for all,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Right now, half a million young people are utterly disconnected from Brooklyn’s growing prosperity and influence. But we can change that by elevating our most vulnerable youth and helping them realize their own potential to lead our borough forward. Through Invest in Youth, outstanding frontline nonprofits across Brooklyn are getting the vital support needed to bring about true change for our communities.”
The 54 new grants will be distributed through the Foundation’s Invest in Youth Grantmaking Program. More than $1.54 million will support the critical service and advocacy programs of community-based nonprofits in three focus areas:
  • Youth Development & Leadership: Grants to 25 youth engagement and empowerment programs in under-resourced neighborhoods, working with marginalized population
  • Youth Justice: Grants to 14 programs addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, alternatives to arrest, and educational and work opportunities for court involved youth
  • Immigrant Youth & Families: 15 grants support legal and language services, advocacy campaigns, and leadership opportunities for immigrant youth and families across Brooklyn
The Invest in Youth Grantmaking Program is the Foundation’s largest competitive grant distribution, prioritizing support for community-based organizations led by community members.
  • 80% of grantee organizations are headquartered in Brooklyn
  • Over half of all grantees have annual operating budgets of less than $1 million
  • Grants range from $20,000 to $40,000—marking a threefold increase in the Foundation’s average grant size
  • Grants serve youth boroughwide as well as efforts directly targeting residents of 24 under-resourced neighborhoods
  • 50% of grants provide much sought-after general operating support
In addition to the $1.54 million in new grants, the Foundation previously announced $550,000 for Invest in Youth strategic initiatives. In October, the Foundation awarded $400,000 for the Brooklyn Restorative Justice Project to bring sustainable and racially just disciplinary alternatives to four Brooklyn schools starting this school year—a four-year pilot partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline. In June, more than $150,000 in grants supported the creation of a 10-month fellowship for 20 Brooklyn youth at Brooklyn-serving nonprofits; fellows are currently designing the Foundation’s first-ever youth-led grantmaking program which will launch next month.
2015 marks the first year of Brooklyn Community Foundation’s community-led grantmaking approach developed through the Brooklyn Insights process. Beyond Invest in Youth, the Foundation has launched two additional core initiatives: Neighborhood Strength, which promotes the leadership and decision-making of residents in local grantmaking, and Brooklyn Accelerator, which is dedicated to building the capacity and innovation of Brooklyn’s nonprofit sector as a whole.
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy honored the Foundation with its 2015 Impact Award in recognition of this new approach to supporting community-led change.
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