In March 2019, Brooklyn Community Foundation officially announced the launch of the Brooklyn Elders Fund, a permanent fund seeded by $10 million to promote the care and welfare of older adults in Brooklyn.
The first of its kind to tackle issues affecting aging Brooklynites, the fund brings together older adults, policymakers, and community-based nonprofits to support both proven strategies and innovative approaches to providing the care and support that our aging population needs.
“After building the Brooklyn neighborhoods the world has grown to love, Brooklyn’s elders are too often living in poverty, struggling to find decent housing they can afford, and fighting for basic services that would allow them to live with dignity. It is the definition of a crisis. We partnered with donors to establish the Brooklyn Elders Fund to bring Brooklynites together to tackle this challenge head on. With new ideas and significant new resources, we will do our best to honor and transform the lives of older adults in our neighborhoods for generations to come.”
- Cecilia Clarke, President and CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation
With the largest population of older adults of any county in New York state, 13.5 percent of Brooklyn’s population is older adults, and more than one in five live below the poverty line. With the average stay in New York City nursing homes costing close to $150,000 per year, older adults are struggling to find housing and care while many nursing homes are forced to close, amplifying the near crisis in finding affordable housing.
The Brooklyn Elders Fund is seeded with $10 million from two field of interest funds—CABS Community Foundation and the Fund for the Health & Integrity of Seniors—held permanently at Brooklyn Community Foundation. The source of the funds are the result of two closed nursing homes, assets from which will now remain in and continue to serve older adults in Brooklyn.
“CABS has a long history of providing home care and senior living services and partnering with other community organizations to provide care to our seniors. It was unfortunate that our senior living center in Brooklyn had to close, but through this partnership with Brooklyn Community Foundation, we can ensure the resources will support solutions to the challenges our seniors face daily, from housing and healthcare to transportation and isolation.”
- Bill Pernisek, Fund Advisor, CABS Community Foundation at Brooklyn Community Foundation, and President, CABS Home Attendants Service
To determine the most effective strategy for the Brooklyn Elders Fund, in early 2019 we kicked off a series of listening sessions inspired by our Brooklyn Insights process. The "Elders' Insights" sessions bring together the diverse voices of older adults across the borough to shape the priorities of the new fund. We spoke with over 150 older adults across 15 listening sessions, followed by two roundtables with experts from the elder care sector.
The data and stories collected will allow the fund to target the most salient and critical issues affecting Brooklyn’s diverse communities of older adults. Our Elders' Insights report details the findings of the project.
The 2019-2020 Brooklyn Elders Fund Grant Guidelines are now available. We will fund organizations in the following three areas of focus:
- Aging in Place: We support organizations that work to keep older Brooklynites in their homes, recognizing them as a key part of the social fabric of their local communities. These programs position older adults as long-term leaders in their communities and give them the tools to challenge institutional barriers that limit opportunities and potential. We focus on investments in neighborhoods where quality programs are rare or non-existent.
- Promoting Elders’ Rights: We support both policy/advocacy and direct-service organizations that address the gaps that exist in the legal and healthcare coverage of older adults, including but not limited to promoting services not currently covered under public health care plans. These programs strive to improve the quality of life by transforming systems to meet the needs of all older adults and their caregivers.
- Access to Benefits and Entitlements: We support organizations that work to alleviate systemic barriers to older adults connecting to benefits and entitlements such as health care services and housing protections in order to lead healthy and happy lives.
We are now seeking applicants for our inaugural Brooklyn Elders Fund Advisory Council (BEFAC), an opportunity for older adults (ages 50+) to provide valuable contribution to our grant making through their expertise and lived experience. Commitment is expected to be up to 20 hours total. Advisors will be paid for their participation. Our goal is to recognize and tap into Brooklyn community leaders committed to strengthening their neighborhoods and the borough. Download the application here.
- Older adult of color and/or immigrant community from Brooklyn
- Not currently employed by an organization that serves older adults in Brooklyn or on issues related to older adults
- Can commit to in-person meetings and reading application materials December 2019-January 2020 with the potential of accompanying Programs staff on visits to organizations
- Is passionate, self-motivated, and collaborative
- Is committed to the idea that all people should be equally seen, heard, valued, and respected, regardless of race
- October 18, 2019: Applications due via our online portal or postmarked & mailed
- November 1, 2019: Notification to applicants
- November 8, 2019: BEFAC Breakfast and First Meeting
- December 2019-January 2020: Grant review, site visits, and discussion
- January 2020: Award decisions announced
In February 2019, we issued a round of preliminary Brooklyn Elders Fund grants totalling $340,000 to support seven organizations that reflect the breadth and diversity of the fund’s mission:
- CABS Home Attendants Services
- Ellery Court Senior Housing Development Fund Corporation
- Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project
- Riseboro Community Partnership
- Southside United HDFC–Los Sures
- St. Nick’s Alliance
- University Settlement Society of New York