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

Inaugural Grants from Foundation’s 10-Year, $25 Million Invest in Youth Initiative Support Leadership Opportunities, Job Training Programs, Immigrant Families and Court-Involved 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 populations
  • 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.

2015 Invest in Youth Grant Distribution

$1.54 Million to 54 Nonprofits

Youth Leadership and Development - $675,000 to 25 Nonprofits

Active Citizen Project: $20,000 for Taking Charge/Leading Change, a youth leadership initiative in Brownsville, East New York and Crown Heights that aims to help young people improve the conditions that determine their quality of life and ability to thrive.

Added Value: $20,000 for the urban farming and youth empowerment program in Red Hook, which hires a cohort of teens to run the farm, farmers market, and community food events as they develop leadership on food justice issues.

Black Women's Blueprint: $30,000 for Telling Your Truth: Teaching Youth Transformative Justice, a partnership with student organizers on Crown Heights campuses to pilot disciplinary alternatives.

Bridge Street Development Corporation: $30,000 for Motivated Youth Believing in All Self-Empowerment, a civic engagement and internship program for Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville and Fort Greene/Clinton Hill youth interested in public service, leadership development, and activism.

Brooklyn Community Services: $30,000 for Youth Stand: Coney Island, a project that engages young people in activities to help them develop job skills, improve their academic performance, and become community, with a focus on serving immigrant youth.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: $25,000 for the Garden Apprentice Program, a youth development program through which teen apprentices work under the guidance of skilled professionals and receive mentorship from top horticulturalists and environmental educators.

Brooklyn Children's Museum: $25,000 for the Teen Crew, a free, year-round afterschool program for high school students led by museum educators designed to support academic, cultural, and professional development in Crown Heights.

Brooklyn Workforce Innovations: $25,000 for Youth Pathway Out of Poverty, which will provide Central Brooklyn youth with access to employer-demanded skills, career credentials, job placement, and long-term career development support.

Center for Anti-Violence Education: $40,000 for comprehensive anti-violence, empowerment, and leadership programming for young people, including the expansion of services for LGBTQ homeless youth and a violence prevention program for immigrant young women.

Dance Theatre Etcetera: $25,000 for arts and media leadership programs based in Red Hook serving low-income young people of color, with a focus on overage/under-credited students and disconnected youth.

EcoStation:NY: $20,000 for the Bushwick urban farming and food justice organization which provides educational and mentorship programs for students at the Bushwick Educational Campus.

Footsteps: $25,000 for Youth Empowerment Program to help ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn youth access resources to assist them in their journeys beyond their communities, develop leadership skills, and connect with one another.

FUREE/Fifth Avenue Committee: $20,000 for the overhaul and relaunch of FUREE-ous Youth!, a leadership and advocacy program for youth living in NYCHA Developments in Gowanus.

Girls for Gender Equity: $35,000 to advance advocacy strategies led by young people with a focus on young cis and trans women of color, gender fluid, and LGBTQI youth in the quest for justice and equity within the racial justice movement.

Groundswell Community Mural Project: $30,000 for the organization's unique mission to bring together youth, artists, and community partners' through a collective impact model that uses public art as a tool for social change.

Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy: $30,000 to advance programs through which Central Brooklyn youth deepen their cultural identity, build assets, save money for college, develop artistic, personal and leadership skills, and advocate for solutions to pressing social justice issues.

The Laundromat Project: $20,000 for the People's POWER Lab, a new youth-focused out-of-school initiative that engages young people of color in Central Brooklyn in creative expression, community activism, and leadership development training. 

New York City Urban Debate League: $20,000 for the Brooklyn Debate League's teacher training program to integrate evidence-based argumentation in every subject area, as well the expansion of its competitive debate league and Brooklyn Summer Debate Institutes.

Red Hook Initiative: $40,000 for Red Hook Youth Leaders Program, a 4-year program that provides job readiness and leadership training, part-time employment, academic support, and services to assist young people toward high school graduation, college, and/or meaningful employment.

Sadie Nash Leadership Project: $25,000 for the Brooklyn Summer Institute and partnership classes in schools to strengthen, empower, and equip low-income young women from Central Brooklyn and Coney Island to be agents of change in their own lives and their communities.

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: $25,000 for the Youth Justice Troupes Program, which comprises four Brooklyn-based theatre troupes and engages court-involved youth as actors and playwrights in a comprehensive theatre-for-social justice program.

Turning Point Brooklyn: $25,000 for the development and empowerment of youth in Sunset Park through classroom instruction, case management services, and extracurricular activities focused on building advocacy and leadership skills and mentoring relationships, as well as support for their shelter for young women.

UPROSE: $30,000 for community organizing, community-building, public education, and leadership programs for youth that advance environmental sustainability and resiliency in Sunset Park.

United Community Centers: $40,000 to advance youth internship programs, a pipeline of leadership opportunities for participants as they age out of programs, a new youth advisory board, and youth engagement in the City's development plan for East New York.

University Settlement Society of New York: $20,000 for Connect*Flow*Inspire, a program offering low-income youth from Fort Greene/Clinton Hill a safe space to discover a positive sense of self and community and develop leadership skills to inspire others to collaborate toward community change.

Youth Justice - $425,000 to 14 Nonprofits

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund: $30,000 to prevent unnecessary pretrial detention based on poverty by paying bail for indigent Brooklyn youth and adults accused of misdemeanors, and providing and facilitating access to social and legal services for clients.

Brooklyn Defender Services: $30,000 for Brooklyn Adolescent Representation Team Project which provides comprehensive legal representation to court-involved youth with a focus on school discipline and reentry, special education placements, alternative pathways to graduation, alternatives to incarceration, and counseling.

CASES: $35,000 for Brooklyn Youth Justice Programs in Downtown Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Coney Island, which help young people avoid contact with the criminal justice system by providing education and employment services, behavioral health treatment, community service projects, and links to other community-based providers.

Center for Court Innovation: $30,000 for Brownsville Community Justice Center's Brownsville Leadership Project, which provides court-involved youth with educational, occupational, social, and health services designed to expand their leadership roles in the community and increase community members' sense of public safety.

Center for NuLeadership: $35,000 to advance planning for Bedford Stuyvesant Human Justice Initiative, an arrest diversion pilot program in partnership with the NYPD, 79th Precinct, and NYC Office of Probation.

Common Justice: $40,000 for an innovative victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program based on restorative justice principles that works with young people who commit violent felonies and those they harm.

Drive Change: $35,000 for a unique food service employment model for formerly incarcerated youth, which aims to build a food truck commissary/garage in Central Brooklyn through which other food trucks will hire young people out of its program.

Exalt: $40,000 to counteract the school-to-prison pipeline by elevating expectations of personal success for youth who have interfaced with the criminal justice system.

Green City Force: $35,000 for the implementation of two major "green jobs" workforce initiatives in Brooklyn: a partnership with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice to recruit and train young adults from NYCHA Developments with the highest crime rates and the build-out of two NYCHA farms.

JustLeadership USA: $25,000 for the Campaign to #CloseRikers, a comprehensive multiyear effort to close Rikers Island, which includes the immediate removal of all 16 and 17-year-olds.

Teachers Unite: $20,000 for the Youth-led Transformative Justice initiative to organize students around alternatives to suspension in up to five public schools in under-resourced and over-policed Brooklyn communities.

Urban Youth Collaborative: $20,000 for the Brooklyn Transformative Justice Network to advance youth justice alternatives that disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and promote opportunities for healthy development and the wellbeing of both youth and the community at large.

Vernon Avenue Project/ReConnect: $30,000 for the neighborhood-based entrepreneurship program in Central Brooklyn which creates jobs for court-involved young men.

Young New Yorkers: $20,000 to provide art-based transformative justice programs for court-involved youth, to empower them to transform the justice system through their own creative voices.

Immigrant Youth and Families - $440,000 to 15 Nonprofits

Arab American Association of New York: $35,000 for the Racial Justice Youth Fellowship, an Arab and Muslim youth leadership boot camp that provides resources and tools to address advocacy issues including immigration, police accountability, and racial justice.

Arab-American Family Support Center: $35,000 for the Youth Program, which strives to strengthen Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant youth in three core areas: academic achievement, creative expression and healthy community.

Atlas: DIY: $25,000 for the community-based "cooperative model" that provides legal, educational, and psycho social services for undocumented youth and their allies in Sunset Park.

Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services: $20,000 for the East New York-based organization that engages Bangladeshi youth in social and educational activities including language training, employment readiness, computer training, sports and culture.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration: $25,000 for Brooklyn Transformative Organizing Project, a comprehensive initiative to develop the leadership and empowerment of the borough's Black immigrant youth and families.

Center for Family Life: $40,000 for this innovative partnership with Sunset Park High School which engages largely immigrant youth, their families and educators in creating and implementing supports for academic success and college access and retention.

Council of Peoples Organization: $30,000 for the Join In, Find Out high school after-school program, which provides South Asian and Muslim immigrant and second generation students in Flatbush and Midwood with resources and support needed to address the pressures of family, assimilation, and education.

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation: $40,000 for Future of Tomorrow, a youth organizing group seeking to address racial and educational justice in Cypress Hills, with a focus on campaigning to implement restorative justice practices at the Franklin K. Lane Educational Campus.

DRUM: $30,000 for the expansion of programs that serve low-wage South Asian immigrant workers, youth, and families in Flatbush and Midwood organizing for social and economic justice—with a focus on building the leadership of undocumented women and girls.

El Puente: $45,000 to help strengthen and expand the capacity to engage and empower youth in North Brooklyn to be leaders through campaigns and initiatives that focus on environmental justice, climate change, community safety, and racial/cultural equity in education, the arts, and wellness.

Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project: $20,000 to help transform the lives of Haitian newcomer youth in Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Canarsie through education and leadership development and raising awareness of immigrant education issues in the community and citywide.

Make the Road New York: $35,000 to advance organizing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, foster restorative justice in schools, implement and expand community schools, and bring about reforms for greater police accountability and transparency.

Mixteca: $20,000 to help the Mexican and Latin-American immigrant organization expand to balance critical service provision with immigrant advocacy work, community building and organizing, and skills-building programs.

Polish American Community Services: $20,000 for Immigration Options for Victims of Domestic Violence, which aims to increase awareness of resources for victims of domestic violence and to provide free legal services for immigrants in Greenpoint.

United Chinese Association of Brooklyn: $20,000 for Youth Leadership Team, which develops leadership, civic engagement, and advocacy among underserved Asian immigrant students in Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park and Bath Beach.



About Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided over $20 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits throughout the borough, bolstering vital programs and services while responding to urgent community needs and opportunities. In 2014, following a six-month borough wide community engagement project, Brooklyn Insights, the Foundation unveiled a new strategic action plan focused on youth, neighborhood strength, nonprofit capacity, and racial justice. Learn more at


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