Brooklyn Community Foundation Invests $2.5M in Youth Initiatives for 2017

New Grants Support 67 Local Nonprofit Programs that Develop Leadership, Divert Youth from the Criminal Justice System, Promote School Discipline Reform, and Protect Immigrant Youth

Brooklyn Community Foundation is pleased to announce 67 new grants from its Invest in Youth initiative, bringing the institution’s total funding for youth-focused nonprofit initiatives to nearly $2.5 million in 2017.

Brooklyn Community Foundation—the first and only public charity dedicated to New York City’s largest borough—launched Invest in Youth in 2015 as 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, through grantmaking, strategic leadership initiatives, and direct engagement with youth.

“A more just and equitable future for Brooklyn depends upon investing in young people right now—especially young people of color, whose leadership and voice are critical levers for social change,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Brooklyn’s youth are incredibly resilient, outspoken, courageous, and creative, despite systemic conditions that make them some of the most vulnerable young people in our nation. As we advance our commitment to supporting Brooklyn’s next generation of leaders, we are proud to fund these truly innovative, home-grown programs that are creating opportunities for young people to realize their fullest potential.”

In addition to the new grants, which total $2,150,000, the Invest in Youth initiative also provides funding for the Brooklyn Youth Fellowship youth-led grantmaking program and the Brooklyn Restorative Justice Project, which aims to develop a racially just alternative school disciplinary model for New York City schools in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline.

2017 Invest in Youth Grant Highlights

Brooklyn is home to more than 100,000 youth ages 16-24 living in low income communities of color. One in four incarcerated youth in New York City come from just six Brooklyn neighborhoods. And immigrant families—which account for one third of all New York City households—are increasingly at risk of destabilization and deportation by unjust policies implemented under the current Presidential administration.

The Invest in Youth grant program supports community-based nonprofits that transform the lives of vulnerable young people and address systems-level change in three areas: Youth Leadership, Youth Justice, and Immigrant Youth and Families. This year, 54 nonprofits are receiving renewed multi-year funding and 13 organizations are receiving Invest in Youth grants for the first time; grants range from $20,000 to $50,000.

The Foundation’s grantmaking strategy prioritizes general operating support for community-based organizations led by community members. It uses a Racial Justice Lens to ensure that funding advances equity for people of color and community-led approaches. An analysis of the new grantee cohort finds that:

  • 76% of grantees are headquartered in Brooklyn, 58% focus their programs on specific under-resourced neighborhoods, and nearly half have annual operating budgets of less than $1 million
  • 42% of grantees’ executive directors identify as people of color
  • More than a third of organizations focus on advocacy and policy change as a core component of their approach

Grants by Investment Focus Area

YOUTH LEADERSHIP: $1,130,000 to 37 Nonprofits

Grants support community-based organizations that position youth as long-term leaders in their communities. Focus areas and sample grantee partners include:

  • Economic Opportunity: Red Hook Initiative and Green City Force
  • Youth Arts: ARTs East New York and Truthworker Theater Company
  • Youth and the Environment: Brooklyn Botanic Garden and UPROSE
  • Young Women & Girls: YWCA Brooklyn and Sadie Nash Leadership Project
  • LGBTQIA Youth: Audre Lorde Project and Fostering Change for Children
  • Safety and Healing: How Our Lives Link Altogether – H.O.L.L.A and Crown Heights Community Mediation Center

YOUTH JUSTICE: $645,000 to 20 Nonprofits

Grants support both advocacy and direct-service organizations that address the far-reaching effects of young people’s encounters with the criminal justice system. Focus areas and sample grantee partners include:

  • Diversion Programs: Brooklyn Defender Services and BRIC Arts Media
  • Enrichment Opportunities: The Lineage Project and Brownsville Community Justice Center
  • Employment Programs: Drive Change and Reconnect Brooklyn
  • Advocacy and Policy Reform: JustLeadershipUSA and Correctional Association of New York
  • School Discipline Reform: Teachers Unite and Urban Youth Collaborative

IMMIGRANT YOUTH: $375,000 to 10 Nonprofits 

Grants support organizations that provide critical legal advocacy, social supports, and leadership development for immigrant youth in Brooklyn. Focus areas and sample grantee partners include:

  • Legal and Social Services: Atlas:DIY and Arab American Family Support Center
  • Leadership and Advocacy: Arab American Association of New York and Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Invest in Youth: 2017-18 Grants

* = New Invest in Youth Grantee



  • Green City Force: $40,000 for a service and training program that aims to create ladders to careers in the green economy for NYCHA youth, focused on development of two urban farms. Red Hook, Brownsville
  • Brooklyn Community Services: $30,000 for a project that engages young people, primarily immigrant youth, in activities to help them develop job skills, improve their academic performance, and become community leaders. Coney Island   
  • Footsteps: $25,000 to support formerly ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth transitioning into mainstream society with resources, leadership development, and peer connections. Crown Heights, Borough Park, Kensington, Flatbush, Williamsburg
  • Red Hook Initiative: $40,000 to provide job readiness and leadership training, part-time employment, academic support, and services to assist young people toward graduation, college, and career. Red Hook
  • United Community Centers: $40,000 to support the operation and management of one of the city’s largest youth-led farms as well as a sexual health-focused peer education program. East New York


  • *ARTs East New York: $25,000 to support the Public Art Apprenticeship Program and Young Artist Institute for young people interested in the arts as a tool for social change. East New York
  • *Brooklyn Children’s Museum: $25,000 to support the Teen Arts and Advocacy Council program for Brooklyn teens interested in the intersections of arts, advocacy, and civic engagement. Crown Heights, Boroughwide
  • Dance Theatre Etcetera: $25,000 for in-school, after-school, and summer-based multi-disciplinary arts programs serving low-income youth of color, with a focus on overage, under-credited students and disconnected youth. Red Hook
  • Groundswell: $35,000 for school year and summer programs that engage youth from underserved communities in public mural making as a means of social change while developing their leadership and creative skills. Boroughwide
  • Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy: $30,000 for the creative, educational, and vocational development of Black and Caribbean youth in Central Brooklyn. Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Flatbush   
  • Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: $25,000 to engage court-involved youth as actors and playwrights in a comprehensive theatre-for-social justice program that uses real life stories of the youth actors. Boroughwide           
  • Truthworker Theater Company: $20,000 for a theater program that uses first person narratives to bring the stories of young people impacted by incarceration to the forefront and drive awareness of the need for policy reform. Boroughwide


  • Active Citizen Project: $25,000 for a youth leadership initiative centered at the organization’s community farm that aims to help young people improve the conditions that determine their quality of life and ability to thrive. Brownsville, East New York, Crown Heights        
  • *Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger: $20,000 to support the Green Teens sustainable farming paid apprenticeship program for Brooklyn youth aged 15-24. Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: $25,000 for an apprentice program through which teens work under the guidance of skilled professionals and receive mentorship from top horticulturalists and environmental educators. Boroughwide     
  • UPROSE: $35,000 for community organizing, public education, and leadership programs for youth that advance environmental sustainability and resiliency. Sunset Park, South Slope, Gowanus


  • Alex House Project: $35,000 to provide pregnancy and parenting groups for teens and other young, low-income, first time mothers and fathers in Red Hook. Red Hook   
  • Black Women's Blueprint: $35,000 for a partnership with student organizers to pilot campus-based transformative justice practices that hold harm-doers accountable and support sexual violence survivors in their healing and development. Crown Heights           
  • Girl Be Heard: $35,000 for multidisciplinary arts opportunities designed to engage young women in social justice education and develop their leadership skills. Boroughwide
  • Girls for Gender Equity: $35,000 to advance advocacy strategies led by LGBTQ youth of color focused on issues including gender based violence, sexism, and racism. Boroughwide
  • Sadie Nash Leadership Project: $35,000 for a Brooklyn-based summer leadership institute that engages young women in political education and empowerment programs to equip them to be agents for social change. Bedford  Stuyvesant, Coney Island, Crown Heights, East New York
  • *Sanctuary for Families: $20,000 to support the establishment of the Mishkan Project, a peer support group and work development program for Ultra-Orthodox young women who have been rejected by their families due to histories of abuse, addiction, sex trafficking, and other forms of gendered violence. Citywide
  • *YWCA Brooklyn: $30,000 to support the YW LEAD youth development and college access, and social justice education program for low-income and immigrant young women of color. Boroughwide


  • *The Ali Forney Center: $35,000 to support the Youth Advocacy Internship Program for homeless LGBTQIA youth of color. Citywide
  • Audre Lorde Project: $35,000 to support youth-led programs and advocacy for LGBTQIA people of color that build leadership and organizing skills, reduce surveillance policing, and promote safer communities. Boroughwide
  • *Fostering Change for Children: $30,000 to support the establishment of UpFront, peer support and advising groups to help LGBTQIA identifying youth living in foster care form permanent, life-affirming families. Citywide


  • *CAMBA: $25,000 to support Brownsville In, Violence Out, a community-based youth development and gun-violence reduction program. Brownsville
  • 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 service providers. Boroughwide
  • *Crown Heights Community Mediation Center: $25,000 to support Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets and Justice Community Plus, two of the Center’s holistic, anti-violence and work readiness youth development programs. Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant
  • H.O.L.L.A - How Our Lives Link Altogether: $20,000 for a social justice education, leadership, and organizing program for low income youth of color focused on trauma recovery and healing. Boroughwide
  • KAVI - Kings Against Violence Initiative: $35,000 for the hospital-based violence interruption program and in-school and community-based discussion groups and workshops. East New York, Brownsville, Flatbush


  • Churches United For Fair Housing: $35,000 for youth development programming focused on housing-related issues and other challenges impacting low-income communities of color. Bushwick
  • FUREE: $25,000 for a leadership and advocacy program for NYCHA youth. Gowanus, Red Hook
  • Global Action Project: $40,000 for an intersectional youth organizing and activism program that uses media and storytelling to help young people, specifically immigrant and LGBTQ youth, advocate for themselves and their communities. Boroughwide
  • Global Kids: $35,000 for after-school programming that aims to increase exposure to local and international human rights and social justice issues. Boroughwide
  • Resilience Advocacy Project: $30,000 to provide leadership development programs, legal education, and peer-to-peer trainings for youth of color, particularly those living in ACS care or detention, focused on advocating for community change. Boroughwide
  • *Youth Advocacy Corps: $25,000 to support YAC’s core youth advocacy programs: the Youth Advocacy Summer Institute and Mental Health Awareness Project. Boroughwide, East New York



  • *BRIC Arts Media: $25,000 to support the enrollment of court-involved youth in the Project Re-Direct media apprenticeship program, a pilot alternative-to-incarceration initiative between BRIC and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Boroughwide
  • Brooklyn Community Bail Fund: $35,000 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. Boroughwide       
  • Brooklyn Defender Services: $50,000 for comprehensive free 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. Boroughwide
  • CASES: $35,000 for programs that divert youth from the criminal justice system by providing education and employment services, behavioral health treatment, service projects, and links to other providers. Bedford Stuyvesant, Coney Island
  • Center for Nu Leadership: $25,000 for programs that divert neighborhood youth from arrest proceedings by developing pre-arrest diversion options for law-officers. Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Common Justice: $45,000 for a 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. Boroughwide           


  • Brownsville Community Justice Center: $35,000 to provide off-ramps for young people who come into contact with the justice system, including educational, occupational, social, and health services designed to expand their leadership and increase community members' sense of public safety. Brownsville
  • Center for Community Alternatives: $30,000 to support counseling, life skills courses, and after-school arts-based activities for youth living in secure and non-secure detention facilities. Boroughwide          
  • *Friends of Island Academy: $30,000 to support the establishment of a Youth ReEntry Network hub office in Downtown Brooklyn to provide educational, social service, and workforce development supports for young people transitioning out of incarceration. Boroughwide
  • Lineage Project: $40,000 for mindfulness and yoga programs for incarcerated and highly-vulnerable young people, including those in living in secure and non-secure detention facilities, as well as a Brooklyn-based program for young people on probation. Boroughwide
  • Young New Yorkers: $20,000 to provide court-mandated arts diversion programs for youth that engage them in social justice issues through the creation of large-scale public art projects. Boroughwide


  • Drive Change: $35,000 to provide training and first job experience for formerly incarcerated and court-involved young people through a nonprofit food truck. Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick
  • exalt: $40,000 to counteract the school-to-prison pipeline by elevating expectations of personal success for court-involved youth through job skills courses, individualized support, paid internships, and alumni network. Boroughwide
  • ReConnect: $30,000 to connect youth to employment, entrepreneurship training, and access to college credit to help navigate systemic challenges that make it hard to find sustainable employment. Bedford Stuyvesant


  • *Correctional Association of New York: $25,000 to support the implementation monitoring supports for the newly passed “Raise the Age” law taking minors off Rikers Island, as well as support for Safe Passages, a leadership development and peer support program for system-involved LGBTQIA young people of color, and the Youth Speakers Institute, a media training and advocacy program for system-impacted youth. Citywide
  • JustLeadership USA: $30,000 to empower court-involved youth to drive policy reforms, including the campaign to #CloseRikers, a comprehensive multiyear effort to close Rikers Island Detention Facility. Boroughwide
  • Osborne Association: $35,000 to support programs for children of incarcerated parents as well as a council that engages young people impacted by incarceration to develop campaigns around issues affecting their lives and communities. Boroughwide


  • Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation: $30,000 for a youth organizing group that seeks to address racial and educational injustice through a campaign to implement restorative justice practices at a local high school campus. Cypress Hills
  • Teachers Unite: $20,000 for members' work with students and teachers to lead the shift from punitive to transformative justice in NYC public schools. Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, East Williamsburg, Sunset Park   
  • Urban Youth Collaborative: $30,000 to organize youth of color who have been the victims of school-based over-policing to advance youth justice alternatives and promote wellbeing of both youth and their communities. Boroughwide     



  • Arab-American Family Support Center: $40,000 for programs that strengthen Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant youth’s academic achievement, creative expression and healthy behaviors. Boroughwide     
  • Atlas: DIY: $35,000 for the community-based "cooperative model" that provides free legal, educational, and social services for undocumented youth and their allies. Sunset Park     
  • Center for Family Life: $40,000 for a community school model that engages youth, families and educators to mobilize resources and develop programs for high school success and college access and retention. Sunset Park
  • Safe Passage Project: $50,000 for free legal services and representation to meet the unmet needs of immigrant and undocumented children in partnership with community high schools. Boroughwide
  • Turning Point Brooklyn: $30,000 for social, educational, medical, and economic support services to low income, immigrant residents focused on building advocacy and leadership skills and establishing strong mentoring relationships. Sunset Park     


  • Arab American Association of New York: $40,000 for a leadership fellowship for Arab and Muslim youth that provides resources and tools to address advocacy issues including immigration, police accountability, and racial justice. Boroughwide
  • Black Alliance for Just Immigration: $30,000 to develop the leadership and empowerment of the borough's Black immigrant youth and families in order to end racism, criminalization, and economic disenfranchisement. Boroughwide     
  • DRUM: $35,000 to organize South Asian youth, families, and immigrant workers to win campaigns focused on educational equity, economic justice, legalization, workplace rights, and an end to racial profiling and anti-immigrant enforcement. Flatbush, Midwood
  • El Puente: $35,000 to organize communities of color to fight gentrification through youth-led community campaigns and initiatives focused on environmental justice, climate change, community safety, and racial/cultural equity in education, the arts, and wellness. Williamsburg
  • Make the Road New York: $40,000 for immigrant youth-led organizing programs focused on the school-to-prison pipeline, community schools, and greater police accountability and transparency. Bushwick


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. It is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community, working in partnership with generous donors and community leaders to bolster vital nonprofits, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunities for youth. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided $35 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond.

In addition Invest in Youth, Brooklyn Community Foundation makes discretionary grants through two core initiatives under its Community Fund: Neighborhood Strength, a new model for resident-led grantmaking and community visioning launched in Crown Heights, and Brooklyn Accelerator, which builds capacity and strength in Brooklyn’s nonprofit sector by incubating start-up nonprofits, providing free workshops and trainings, and spotlighting outstanding local organizations through the annual Spark Prize. The Foundation also manages a growing Donor Advised Fund program, through which it has deployed almost $2 million to nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond to date this year.

Learn more at

Media Contact: 

Liane Stegmaier, VP of Communications and Strategy