Frequently Asked Questions

Our program has been in operation longer than five years, but we just became a separate 501c3 entity more recently. Can we apply?
Your organization can apply if it can demonstrate five years of nonprofit service in Brooklyn, either as an independent organization, under an umbrella organization or a fiscal sponsor. For 501c3 organizations that have spun off from umbrella nonprofits within the past five years, please detail that relationship in your application narrative. All applying organizations must provide their most recent 990 Form showing an operational budget of $350,000 or more. This award is not for emerging organizations.

We are a national organization, but have been operating in Brooklyn for more than five years and our fiscal sponsor is based in another city. Are we eligible?
If your organization serves the people of Brooklyn and can satisfy the other eligibility requirements, you are eligible to apply.

My organization has programming in Brooklyn but is based in Manhattan. Are we eligible?
If your programs serve the people of Brooklyn and can satisfy the other eligibility requirements, you are eligible to apply.

How strict is the $350,000 budget requirement? We are close but do not have a $350,000 budget. Are we eligible?
For your organization to be eligible, your most recently completed fiscal year budget has to have a minimum of $350,000 in expenses. This should be reflected in the most recently filed 990 that is part of the application process.

Why is there a minimum $350,000 organizational budget requirement for the Spark Prize?
While there are many worthy organizations doing work in Brooklyn that have an organizational budget of less than $350,000, this budget requirement reflects our desire to support an organization with the capacity to propel change in Brooklyn. We try to assess this by the size of the organizational budget, how long the organization has been around, and the scope of programming. Due to the large size of the Spark Prize ($100,000), it is advisable for organizations to not have more than 30 percent of their funding from any one source.

Is there a maximum operations budget for applying organizations? Will there be bias against larger budget organizations?
There is no maximum budget requirement. There is no bias toward or against larger, more established organizations.

If we are a current Brooklyn Community Foundation grantee, can we apply?
Yes, current and past grantees are eligible to apply.

Are schools eligible to apply?
If you are a nonprofit entity and have a 501c3 determination letter, you are eligible.

What are you looking for in terms of content in our application?
Please provide a clear overview of your organization’s mission and its impact in the brief 200-word organization summary description. Applying organizations should be able to clearly address all application criteria in the Narrative, which is limited to 1000 words. There are four Application Criteria that we would like you to detail within this word count: Born in Brooklyn, Commitment to Equity, Values Driven, and Vision for the Future.

How are you assessing an organization’s commitment to equity?
BCF centers our work with a racial justice lens due to disparities in opportunities and access that are caused by structural and systemic issues rooted in racism and other forms of oppression that have impacted the Brooklyn community. The Spark Prize committee assesses whether organizations use race and other forms of identities to understand these structural challenges and create forward-thinking solutions to disrupt traditional hierarchies of power in favor of empowering our diverse communities.

We are “born” in Brooklyn but our vision for the future is expanding beyond the borough. How does that impact our application?
If your organization continues to serve Brooklyn and satisfies the other eligibility requirements, then you are eligible to apply. You can discuss your organization’s history in Brooklyn and your vision for your organization’s future in the Narrative. It is recommended that you highlight how your work in Brooklyn is part of the vision.

Can we submit videos, press clips or kits?
No, please do not send or attach videos, press clips, newsletters or promotional materials. Any attachments other than those requested will not be reviewed, and will be discarded.

We understand that the Spark Prize award is general operating support. However, if we have a specific program that aligns with the Prize criteria, can we submit a project support request?
Your organization can choose to focus your Narrative around a particular program or project if it specifically aligns with the criteria. However, if your organization is selected, funds will be awarded as general operating support distributed over a two-to-three year period.

Questions about constituent demographics share private information on our clients. How should we respond when the questions are required in the application?
We appreciate the need for confidentiality and hope that the aggregate number will not violate any constituent’s privacy.

My organization is well known in the community and I understand that the Foundation has a recusal policy in place for Spark Committee members. How will you ensure that an organization’s application is read by enough people?
Spark Committee members are required to complete and sign a Disclosure of Affiliations in which they must state any affiliations with organizations applying for the Spark Prize. Members will be asked to recuse themselves if they have a material conflict. We ensure that at least three Committee members read and score each application.

What does Giving Tuesday entail?
All applicants will be featured during our Giving Tuesday campaign to encourage local donors to give to Brooklyn nonprofits that day. The Foundation will provide support and guidance to help applicants maximize the Giving Tuesday match and surrounding promotions. The Foundation will match up to $5,000 per organization of funds raised on Giving Tuesday for the 20 Finalists.

If an organization is a Finalist, does the organization’s ability to raise the Giving Tuesday match affect its chances in the final round?
No, it will not affect the organization’s chances in the final round of selecting the winners.

Who is the appropriate person to represent the organization at the Finalist interviews?
Interview participants are chosen at your discretion and can be anyone who is able to represent your organization effectively, such as a member of your executive or program staff, a constituent or client, or a Board member. We request no more than three representatives per organization.  

You state that the $100,000 Prize will be distributed over a two or three year period. Could you clarify how we will be able to collect the funds?
Five organizations will be awarded a total of $100,000 each in general operating support to be distributed over a minimum of two years or a maximum of three years. Organizations will be able to decide how much of the Prize to access per year, with a maximum amount of $70,000 in a single year.

What are expectations regarding reporting from the Spark Prize winners?
​We ask organizations to submit a short one-page summary at the end of each year that captures stories of how the Prize helps transform or propel organizations, and any feedback to refine the Prize for future years.