Brooklyn Community Foundation Launches to Improve the Quality of Life for Brooklynites

Landmark “Transfer of Wealth” Study Shows Remarkable $3.1 Billion Potential for Brooklyn Giving by 2030

October 1, 2009, Brooklyn, NY—The Brooklyn Community Foundation—the first and only charitable organization of its kind in Brooklyn—was launched today to bring new resources to the borough’s most creative and effective nonprofits. With the motto “Do Good Right Here.”, the Brooklyn Community Foundation leverages the experience and knowledge gained through the former Independence Community Foundation’s grant making work to provide a new philanthropic vehicle for giving to Brooklyn. The new Brooklyn Community Foundation has established five “field of interest” funds to attract charitable giving and to meet the complex challenges of Brooklyn’s 70 neighborhoods and 2.5 million people. The announcement was made today at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

The fundraising aspirations of the Brooklyn Community Foundation are supported by the results of a landmark “Transfer of Wealth” study commissioned by the Foundation which asserts that a remarkable $61 billion will be available for inter-generational transfer over the next 20 years. The Brooklyn Community Foundation hopes to raise at least $25 million for Brooklyn over the next five years from families, individuals, national and local foundations, and the business sector to be used in five major funds: Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, Caring Neighbors, Arts for All, and Green Communities.

The establishment of the Brooklyn Community Foundation is a natural—and important—step for the nonprofit community in Brooklyn; one which builds on the extraordinary commitment of Independence Community Bank and Independence Community Foundation to Brooklyn,” said Alan H. Fishman, Chairman of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, who also chairs the boards of BAM, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

“The Board’s bold decision to use the Foundation’s resources to create Brooklyn’s first community foundation also underscores its devotion to the critical—yet often under-resourced—work of our local nonprofits. Combining our grassroots knowledge of Brooklyn, the “can do” spirit that is Brooklyn at its best, and a passion for the people and neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Community Foundation will do good right here in Brooklyn--now and in the future,” said Fishman.

The Foundation’s launch coincides with a resurgence of growth and enthusiasm for the borough, whose population has grown since 1986 to make it the City’s most populous. In the early 2000’s the number of Brooklyn residents with adjusted gross incomes between $100,000 and $199,999 grew 26 percent compared to Manhattan, where the number rose just 5 percent; from 1995 to 2006, local entrepreneurial growth—a key ingredient for economic vitality—nearly doubled as compared to the 1970’s and 1980’s when Brooklyn’s commerce and population diminished.

Counterbalancing the borough’s renaissance are its long-standing challenges: more than a half million Brooklynites live in poverty, approximately 50,000 young adults age 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working and more than 350,000 adults do not have a high school diploma. Brooklyn also has the City’s greatest number of public housing units, its foreclosure rate is the second highest in the City and its children have the most elevated blood lead levels. Brooklyn also has the lowest percentage of land devoted to parks of the five boroughs. The Foundation’s five Fields of Interest funds will focus on addressing these and many other serious local issues.

We intend to be a champion and advocate for Brooklyn,” said Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. “We’ll tell the compelling, powerful stories of giving and service in Brooklyn, introduce people to creative leaders and local issues, and launch borough-wide campaigns in areas such as hunger, literacy, the environment, the arts, and healthcare to support efforts that help and unite everyone in Brooklyn. We believe that a new crop of donors and innovative nonprofit leaders has emerged and we plan to harness this new energy to create an even stronger Brooklyn together.”

“Transfer of Wealth” Study
The Brooklyn Community Foundation retained the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship (RUPRI) to conduct a Transfer of Wealth study--the first of its kind in New York City--on the economic development and wealth formation trends in the borough.

According to conservative projections, the 2010 net worth of all Brooklyn households is $153.6 billion. Over the next 20 years (2010 to 2030), $61.3 billion will transfer from the current Brooklyn generation to the next and may be available for community “give back.” This transfer of wealth includes household assets such as homes, family businesses, investments, and life insurance (the analysis does not include the value of jewelry, cars or art). If the Brooklyn Community Foundation could attract just 5 percent of those available assets, it could mean $3.1 billion in charitable giving to Brooklyn’s nonprofit community.

“This study illustrates that Brooklyn’s growing financial strength, favorable geographic location in New York City, vibrancy fueled by young, educated, creative residents and its immigrant communities compares favorably with cities like Chicago in its Transfer of Wealth possibilities.” said Don Macke, the Director of RUPRI.

Major Inaugural Gifts to the Brooklyn Community Foundation
Several major gifts to the new the Brooklyn Community Foundation were also announced.

  • The Independence Community Foundation, a private foundation created in 1998 by the Independence Community Bank, has invested its entire $50+ million corpus in the Brooklyn Community Foundation and retained its entire professional staff to operate the Brooklyn Community Foundation. This extraordinary gift covers all administrative and start-up costs so that every dollar donated to the new Foundation goes directly to essential programs and projects in the five fields of interest funds.

Since its inception, Independence Community Foundation has made more than $70 million in grants, nearly 70 percent of which were in Brooklyn. Recognizing the borough’s great need, the board of Independence Community Foundation decided to transform itself into a public charity so that it could leverage its resources to accomplish even more for the borough.

  • The Starr International Foundation has made a gift of $500,000 to the Brooklyn Community Foundation to assist economically disadvantaged families in the borough of Brooklyn.

“The Starr International Foundation is dedicated to assisting disadvantaged populations around the world,” said Florence A. Davis, a director of SIF and president of its New York-based sister foundation, The Starr Foundation. “We are pleased to make a flagship grant to The Brooklyn Community Foundation because it will reach an area of great need in the City but also one of great vitality and promise.”

  • The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation has also contributed $200,000 to the work of the new Brooklyn foundation.

“The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation has a long standing commitment to supporting Brooklyn causes. We are pleased to be leaders in the funding success of BAM and St. Ann’s Warehouse. Our commitments to these organizations have exceeded $30 million. Our Foundation’s experience with Alan Fishman, Chairman of BAM, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation, has given us great respect for his philanthropic leadership,” said Norman L. Peck, Director of the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

Brooklyn Community Foundation “Fields of Interest Funds”
The Brooklyn Community Foundation has created five major Fields of Interest Funds to guide giving to the areas of greatest need. The funds are:

  • The Arts for All Fund invests in making arts and culture an essential component of life in all Brooklyn communities
  • The Caring Neighbors Fund assists vulnerable Brooklyn families and individuals to find a path out of poverty by supporting the work of the most effective health, and human service providers.
  • The Community Development Fund supports efforts to provide affordable housing and neighborhood stability; it also promotes family and individual economic health through financial education and support and effective job training.
  • The Education and Youth Achievement Fund promotes access to quality education and academic success for all children and adults; the fund also supports programs that help young people make smart life choices and nurture their social and emotional well-being.
  • The Green Communities Fund invests in the best approaches to bring environmental awareness and green values to neighborhoods; it encourages access to, and protection of open space, the waterfront, parks and other community green spaces.

To learn more about Brooklyn Community Foundation funds, the grant application process or to make a donation to Brooklyn’s future, visit or call 718.722.2300.

# # #


The Brooklyn Community Foundation is a registered 501c (3) dedicated to improving the lives of people in Brooklyn through grantmaking and by encouraging local giving and community service. The first and only one of its kind in Brooklyn, the Foundation was founded in 2009 to support the borough’s most effective nonprofits in five Fields of Interest: Community Development, Education and Youth achievement, Caring Neighbors, Art for All, and Green Communities. Since 1998, operating as the Independence Community Foundation, the Foundation distributed over $70 million in grants throughout New York Metro area, nearly 70% was in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Community Foundation is permitted to raise money from individuals, other foundations, corporations and the public sector. More information can be found at: