Today at P.S. 276 in Canarsie, we joined the Mayor’s Office of Equity, the NYC Department of Education, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and families, students, school leaders, the Gray Foundation, and NYC Kids RISE to announce that 1,200 first graders in East Flatbush and Canarsie will receive $1,000 in their NYC Scholarship Accounts, which is dedicated to college and career savings.
Funded by $1.2 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative and Donor Advised Funds at Brooklyn Community Foundation, this new Community Scholarship utilizes NYC Kids RISE’s Save for College Program as a community- driven wealth-building platform and is the largest Community Scholarship in the Program's history.
Donor Advised Funds at Brooklyn Community Foundation, including The Scout Fund and College Opportunity Fund, invested in the Community Scholarship. The Foundation’s Donor Advised Fund program enables individuals, families, and businesses to leverage their charitable giving to spark long-term change in communities. This robust partnership between organizations with complementary missions—philanthropy, service providers, neighbors, and schools—demonstrates the enormous potential of communities to come together and tangibly invest in young people and their families.
The Community Scholarship aims to address the racial wealth gap in New York City neighborhoods where 86% of students are Black—the largest proportion of any geographic school district in New York City. Every first grader who attends a public elementary school in geographic School District 18 communities (including both district and charter schools) and has an NYC Scholarship Account is receiving $1,000, as is every first grader with an NYC Scholarship Account residing in NYCHA’s Bayview Houses and Breukelen Houses, both in Canarsie.
Our President & CEO Dr. Jocelynne Rainey spoke to the significance of this community investment at today's press conference:
"As the community foundation for Brooklyn, we play a unique role in mobilizing local giving to invest in community-led change. When Debra-Ellen called me about the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative grant and the opportunity to ensure that every first grader in school district 18 has $1,000 in their savings account – that was a call to action. I knew our community of donors and Donor Advised Fund holders would jump at the chance to make this dream happen for their neighbors, and I am so proud that in such a brief time, they came together to give $200,000 toward this goal. That is the power of community-led philanthropy. Thank you to the donors who contributed, including the College Opportunity Fund and the Scout Fund, and those who wish to remain anonymous.
At Brooklyn Community Foundation, we have a vision for a fair and just Brooklyn where everyone who calls our borough home can prosper and thrive. But right now, we know that is not our reality. Communities of color endured the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. 70% of all jobs lost during the height of the pandemic were held by workers of color, with the greatest losses endured by Black and Latinx women. Today, Black and Latinx Brooklynites are twice as likely to live in poverty as white Brooklynites.
Further, while white families’ wealth increased nationally over the past three decades, Black families’ wealth dropped by 50%. And we are still backsliding. Meanwhile, the mountain to climb has gotten even higher through increased costs of living, student learning loss, mental health impacts, and much more.
We all want our children to have more than we have. And we all want racial justice. But we cannot get there unless we create economic opportunity and build wealth for communities of color, especially Black Brooklynites. And that is why this investment is such a breakthrough. We are saying to Black children that you will have a chance at higher education, and we are giving their parents and guardians the financial tools to achieve it.
But this is not about individual outcomes, nor is it about individual generosity. This is about our collective future. This is an investment in Brooklyn, by neighbors, for their neighbors – knowing that what we put in we will get back out, tenfold."