Brooklyn Community Foundation Launches Resident-led Grantmaking Program in Crown Heights

Brooklyn Community Foundation wants to invest $100,000 in Crown Heights—and local residents are deciding where the funds will go.

On Friday, the Foundation and its Crown Heights Advisory Council announced a request for proposals from nonprofits, residents, and community groups for advocacy projects that address top neighborhoods concerns, including housing rights, cross-cultural relationships, youth opportunities, and policing. View complete grant guidelines and application here.

The funds will be distributed through the Crown Heights Grants Program of the Foundation’s Neighborhood Strength initiative. The importance of neighborhood cohesion to Brooklyn residents—stability, leadership, and connectedness within communities—emerged as a key finding in the Foundation’s 2014 boroughwide community engagement project, Brooklyn Insights, which surveyed over 1,000 people. As part of its new core program strategy focused on Youth, Neighborhoods, and Nonprofits, the Foundation has committed to developing a resident-led grantmaking model to support Brooklyn’s under-served neighborhoods, starting in its new home of Crown Heights and informed by the experience of local stakeholders.

“We moved our headquarters here last year to be part of a vibrant community with a strong civic infrastructure, where residents have built dynamic local institutions and a rich cultural legacy,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President Cecilia Clarke. “Today, Crown Heights is confronting dramatic changes—led by rapid development and gentrification—while continuing to wrestle with issues around poverty, race, and criminal justice. We want to help build the community’s enduring strength and empower residents to direct resources where they’re needed most right now.”   

A New Grantmaking Model

Last fall, the Foundation recruited a diverse group of local residents and leaders to form a Crown Heights Advisory Council. Members then met monthly and worked together to identify top neighborhood challenges and opportunities. In advising the Foundation on the creation of the grant program, they focused on four key concerns: the displacement of long-term residents, increased economic pressures on working class communities, the lack of enrichment opportunities for youth, and the impact of unfair and discriminatory policing on communities of color.

The new grants program will support advocacy and organizing projects by Crown Heights nonprofits, community groups, and community residents working in four areas:

  • Housing Rights
  • Cross Cultural Learning & Relationship Building
  • Youth Opportunities
  • Transparent and Accountable Policing

Grants will be made in two categories: nonprofits and unincorporated groups can apply for grants between $10,000 − $25,000; residents can apply for grants between $5,000 − $10,000.

Proposals must be submitted by Wednesday, September 23, 2015, and will be vetted by the Council in partnership with Foundation staff. Grants will be announced this November.

Priority consideration for funding will be given to organizations and residents that work with directly affected communities and those that have historically resided in Crown Heights (such as the African American, Caribbean, and Chasidic communities). Applying organizations and residents should have at least 2-3 years’ experience working in Crown Heights.

The Crown Heights Advisory Council members are Rabbi Eli Cohen (Crown Heights Central JCC), Amy Ellenbogen (Crown Heights Mediation Center), Ashley Harris (resident & youth leader), Jason Scott Jones (resident), Donna Mossinan (Crown Heights Tenant Union), Amilcar Priestley (The AfrolatinProject), Regine Roumain (Haiti Cultural Exchange), Hanne Tierney (Five Myles Gallery), and Keith White (resident).

Keith White: "As a Crown Heights homeowner and business owner, I'm excited at the possibility of partnering with members of my community to take a comprehensive look at issues of sustainability, growth and progress. Because many of the issues of underserved communities like Crown Heights are systemic and institutionalized, it will take bold and brave new ideas to problem-solve them. I applaud the Brooklyn Community Foundation for being brave enough, and having enough faith in Crown Heights, to vanguard this moment."

Régine M. Roumain, Executive Director of Haiti Cultural Exchange: “As someone who works and resides in Crown Heights, I can confidently say that this initiative comes at a critical juncture for our neighborhood and community. We are facing a number of social, economic, and cultural challenges due to long-standing inequities resulting from a lack of opportunities and resources. Through this fund, Brooklyn Community Foundation is not only committing significant resources towards the empowerment of organizations and residents, but sending a clear signal that our communities, our ideas and ideals – do indeed matter.”

Rabbi Eli Cohen, Executive Director of Crown Heights Central JCC: "It has been a wonderful experience to work with such a diverse group of neighborhood residents and the talented staff of Brooklyn Community Foundation. Together, we’re tailoring the opportunity these funds provide to accomplish something meaningful for our shared community."

Amy Ellenbogen, Director of the Crown Height Medication Center: “There are so many people in Crown Heights dreaming about and imagining ways to make our neighborhood a better and safer place. This grant is an opportunity for residents and local organizations to make those dreams a reality.”

Hanne Tierney, Director of FiveMyles Gallery: “Brooklyn Community Foundation has stepped in to make their resources available to organizations and individuals in Crown Heights who focus on keeping the community inclusive, help old-time residents avoid being priced-out of their homes, and rally young people around these issues. With the help of these grants, they can have real impact on this changing community and influence its future.”

Jason Scott Jones: “Having been born in Crown Heights, and a resident spanning five decades now, it is my privilege to collaborate with the Brooklyn Community Foundation, lending my support to efforts to improve community quality and address concerns ranging from shared prosperity to discrimination. I’m very proud to be a member of the Foundation’s Advisory Council.”



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 boroughwide 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

Media Contact: 

Liane Stegmaier, Director of Communications