Brooklyn Community Foundation Awarded National Innovation Fund Grant

The Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of eight of the nation’s leading funders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has awarded $150,000 to the Brooklyn Community Foundation to support its work building healthier, more equitable communities.
Established in 2009 as the first and only charitable foundation for New York City’s largest borough, Brooklyn Community Foundation provides grants to local nonprofit organizations working in the areas of education and youth achievement, arts and culture, community development, human services, and the environment.
The Convergence Partnership Innovation Fund awards honor new or expanded local and regional innovative initiatives that help ensure all people can live, work, and play in healthy communities. Brooklyn Community Foundation is one of only 13 local foundations in the United States to be recognized with a 2012 National Innovation Fund grant. Grants totaled $1.85 million, with a required foundation match of $2 for every $1 awarded.
“Local foundations are important leaders in their communities,” said Judith Bell, president of PolicyLink and the Convergence Partnership’s program director. “By investing in the ability of local foundations to innovate and take risks, the Convergence Partnership supports sustainable and effective opportunities to promote health and equity in our most vulnerable communities.”
Brooklyn Community Foundation was specifically honored for its work to build a network of healthy food and healthy living strategies in public housing communities in Brooklyn, specifically in Red Hook, Fort Greene, and Brownsville. The Innovation Fund award will support a three-year initiative in partnership with Added Value in Red Hook, Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project in Fort Greene, Brownsville Partnership, Brooklyn Food Coalition, New York City Housing Authority, and the New York City Department of Health.
“This award is a breakthrough for our Green Communities Fund programs and recognition of the effectiveness of the work we’ve helped nurture over the years with our community-based grantee partners,” added Marilyn Gelber, president of Brooklyn Community Foundation. “There’s been no shortage of ink written about Brooklyn’s foodie scene, co-ops, and locally made products. But we all know there’s another side to our borough, in which many residents feel they have few choices when it comes to the health of the food they eat and the place they live. We hope to spark a change in their lives, and empower all Brooklynites to be a part of the healthy communities movement.”
With its partners, Brooklyn Community Foundation aims to fully integrate community voices into the design and implementation of new urban agriculture ventures in public housing complexes; provide young adults of color in public housing with opportunities to participate in the green economy through the Urban Farm Corps; implement new exercise, walking, and biking initiatives; and expand the Healthy Schools Campaign. In addition, the initiative will promote leadership development within the communities and provide mini-grants to resident-led projects.
“The New York City Housing Authority welcomes and supports the work of the Brooklyn Community Foundation in its commitment to work with public housing residents to build healthier communities in our Brooklyn neighborhoods,” said Sharon Myrie, Executive Vice President of NYCHA’s Community Programs and Development Department. “By working in collaboration with partners like these, we can continue to improve the quality of life of our residents.”
The first round of the Innovation Fund, which took place from 2010 to 2012, realized significant changes within local communities. Some of these key impacts included promoting equity in decision-making processes by providing opportunities for participation, leadership, and engagement within low-income communities and communities of color; increasing economic development opportunities and jobs for low-income communities; increasing access to healthy food through policy changes, corner store initiatives, farmers’ markets, and new marketing systems; improving the built environment through zoning changes, improvements to parks, and passing policies to support more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods; and building multifield partnerships among new and non-traditional partners, ranging from government agencies to representatives of different sectors and communities. Similar changes of this scale are expected to occur in Brooklyn as a result of the Innovation Fund grant. To find out more about the Convergence Innovation Fund Initiative and the other awardees, please visit
The Convergence Innovation Fund—the partnership initiative that awarded these grants—supports place-based efforts focused on engaging community leadership to improve the built environment and expand healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color.  The initiative also works to build connections across multiple fields, including public health, transportation, urban planning, food justice, and others. 
The Convergence Partnership originally launched the Innovation Fund in May 2009 as a way to:
  • Promote equity, which includes a focus on benefiting low-income communities, communities of color or other vulnerable populations, and create leadership and engagement opportunities for vulnerable populations throughout the policymaking process;
  • Focus on policy and environmental change strategies instead of programmatic or educational initiatives to promote equity and health; and
  • Create non-traditional partnerships and collaborations to effectively create policy and environmental changes and leverage expertise, connections, and funding.
About the Partnership
The Convergence Partnership is a collaboration of funders who have come together with the shared goal of changing policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places. Its members are Ascension Health, The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the WK Kellogg Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serves as technical advisors.  PolicyLink, a national research and action institute devoted to advancing economic and social equity, is the program director for the partnership. Prevention Institute, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving community health and equity through effective primary prevention, works with PolicyLink to provide policy research and analysis and strategic support to the partnership. Each Convergence foundation partner contributes to a fund that is housed at the Tides Foundation. Therefore, grants are made through the Convergence Partnership Fund at Tides Foundation.  For more information about the Convergence Partnership and the partners, please visit
About the Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation is dedicated to improving lives and strengthening communities through local giving, grantmaking, and community service. Established in 2009 as the first and only charitable foundation for New York City’s largest borough, with the support of generous donors Brooklyn Community Foundation provides critical grants to hundreds of Brooklyn nonprofits working in the areas of education and youth achievement, arts and culture, community development, human services, and the environment. Learn more at