Brooklyn Community Foundation has selected the top five social justice nonprofit organizations of 2019 to receive its annual $100,000 Spark Prize, the only honor celebrating the most pioneering organizations advancing equity in the borough. The winning organizations—the first prize cohort to be entirely woman-led—will receive their awards at the Foundation’s Spark Breakfast on February 28, 2019 in Brooklyn.
The 2019 Brooklyn Community Foundation Spark Prize Winners:
The Campaign Against Hunger
Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation
Girls for Gender Equity
Red Hook Community Justice Center
Brooklyn Community Foundation convened 35 leaders from Brooklyn’s civic, business, and philanthropic communities to select the five winners from a competitive pool of more than 120 applicants, awarding a total of $600,000, including $100,000 in general operating support to each of the winners, as well as $5,000 each to the top 20 finalists as part of its #BrooklynGives campaign on Giving Tuesday in November 2018.
“As Brooklyn’s community foundation, we are honored to spotlight these five incredible organizations that have done so much to build equity and strength in our communities and take on our borough’s most pressing challenges—from poverty and hunger to criminal justice reform, the opioid epidemic, young women’s leadership, and opportunities for youth and children,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Brooklyn is a hub for groundbreaking, high impact nonprofits, and we hope that this prize not only rewards these organizations’ excellence, but also springboards their future work across our borough and beyond.”
Brooklyn is home to over 2,000 nonprofits, yet less than 5% of New York City’s philanthropic giving goes to organizations based in the borough. Brooklyn Community Foundation created the Spark Prize to showcase local racial and social justice leaders and increase support to Brooklyn’s nonprofit sector, as it seeks to create a more fair and just Brooklyn.
The organizations will be honored at the Spark Breakfast on Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 8-10AM at BAM Lepercq Space. The event will also pay tribute to the Reverend Emma Jordan Simpson, an esteemed community leader and advocate and member of Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA), the oldest interfaith peace and justice organization in North America, and during her distinguished career she has served tenures as executive director of Girls Incorporated of New York, the Children’s Defense Fund of New York, and Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, all while maintaining a chief pastoral position at the historic Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
2018-19 Spark Prize Recipients:
The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH): Founded in 1998 in Bedford Stuyvesant, today TCAH aims to empower its neighbors across Brooklyn to lead healthier, more productive and self-sufficient lives by increasing their access to nutritious food and related resources. The organization’s food pantry provides 3 million meals annually while acting as a hub for benefits access and food justice programming—including a wellness club for seniors, an intergenerational healthy dining initiative for families, and a free summer kids program. Its youth-led urban farms serve as outdoor community classrooms and infuse the community with nutrient-rich, sustainably grown produce and fresh eggs.
Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation (CHCCC): Serving families in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of northeast Brooklyn since 1990, CHCCC aims to increase the availability of high-quality, affordable child care for low-income families while creating entrepreneurship opportunities for low-income women to capitalize on their child rearing skills. CHCCC serves over 500 families through year-round programming, and is in the process of opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art child care facility that will serve 88 low-income families in Cypress Hills, which is projected to experience significant population growth over the next few years.
Girls for Gender Equity (GGE): Based in Brooklyn since its founding in 2002, GGE is an intergenerational organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women. GGE develops the advocacy skills of over 200 young people annually to eradicate structural, state, racial, and sexual violence and criminalization. GGE encourages youth to become agents of change through civic engagement and leadership opportunities, and campaigns focused on improving the systemic and interpersonal rights of trans and cis girls and young women of color, and gender non-conforming youth of color.
Red Hook Community Justice Center: Launched in 2000, the Red Hook Community Justice Center works to strengthen Red Hook and surrounding areas by reducing crime and the use of incarceration, improving public trust in justice, and collaborating with the community to solve local problems. At the Justice Center, a single judge hears cases that ordinarily would go to three different courts: civil, family, and criminal. Whenever possible, cases are resolved through a restorative, problem-solving approach that seeks to repair harm and address the underlying issues that bring individuals into the justice system. The Justice Center also serves as a hub for an array of unconventional programs that are available to litigants as a means of resolving their cases, as well as to the community at large.
Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY): VOCAL-NY is a Brooklyn-based, statewide network building a movement led by low-income people of color to end the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and homelessness. Founded in 1999 as a progressive AIDS housing network at a time when the epidemic was increasingly concentrated in low-income communities of color, VOCAL-NY was formed to shift attention toward root causes, like homelessness and incarceration. Today, VOCAL-NY operates a syringe exchange that distributes over 50,000 clean syringes annually, provides overdose prevention training and other services to hundreds of New Yorkers, and has worked to pass 15 pieces of legislation since 2013.
The Spark Prize is sponsored by National Grid, Santander Bank, Sugar in the Raw, Cleary Gottlieb, and Kirkland Ellis with support from BKLYNER.
“Congratulations to the Spark Prize recipients on this well-deserved recognition for making a difference in the lives of others,” said Rudy Wynter, President & COO, National Grid Transmission, Generation and Energy Procurement. “National Grid is pleased to partner with Brooklyn Community Foundation to celebrate and encourage Brooklyn’s changemakers.”
“Congratulations to the winners!,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Santander Bank. “Thank you for working to make Brooklyn stronger.”
“We at Cleary Gottlieb join Brooklyn Community Foundation in congratulating all the Spark Prize winners, and we are extremely proud to support their continued commitment to serving the Brooklyn community,” said David Leinwand, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
About the Spark Prize
The Spark Prize is named for Brooklyn Community Foundation’s mission to spark lasting social change in Brooklyn. The 2018-19 Spark Prize cycle launched in April 2018 with an open call to Brooklyn nonprofits to submit a 1,000-word essay demonstrating their deep history in Brooklyn and continued service to the borough; commitment to equity and racial justice for all Brooklynites; strong organizational values; and vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond. To be eligible, organizations had to have annual operating budgets over $350,000 and be in operation for at least five years. Applications were reviewed by the Spark Prize Committee, who narrowed submissions to 20 finalists, and then chose the five winners following in-person interviews.
The Spark Prize is a signature program of the Foundation’s Brooklyn Accelerator, a hub for building capacity and resources in Brooklyn’s nonprofit community. Through the Brooklyn Accelerator, the Foundation also offers free workshops for nonprofits, racial justice training, Board matching and governance training, and an Incubator that hosts start-up nonprofit enterprises. Reaching a diverse cross-section of Brooklyn nonprofits, the Prize will also strengthen the Foundation’s services to its donors who depend on the Foundation’s expertise and knowledge of the borough’s nonprofits to help guide their local giving and philanthropy.
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 over $40 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.
Liane Stegmaier, Director of Communications