Celebrating Exceptional Brooklyn Nonprofits
Each year, five nonprofits are selected to receive the $100,000 ‘no strings attached’ Spark Prize
Brooklyn Org’s Spark Prize provides $600,000 annually to outstanding Brooklyn organizations advancing racial justice and addressing critical challenges in our communities. The Prize is named for and informed by our mission to spark change for a fair and just Brooklyn. Founded in 2016, the Spark Prize has since awarded over $3 million.
Each year, five nonprofits are selected to receive the $100,000 prize by the Spark Prize Committee based upon three primary criteria:
- Born in Brooklyn: Organizations that have a deep history in Brooklyn and a continued commitment to serving the borough.
- Commitment to Equity: Organizations that address systemic challenges and advance racial and social justice for all Brooklynites.
- Vision for Future: Organizations that have a strong vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond.
Twenty finalists for the Spark Prize also receive up to $5,000 in matching funds through our Brooklyn Gives on GivingTuesday campaign—celebrated each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—to encourage local donors to support their work.
Finalists for the 2024 Spark Prize will be announced this Fall and winners will be announced in January 2024.
Brooklyn Org has its ear to the ground and has been very intentional about supporting organizations that weren’t necessarily the most well known — but they are definitely organizations that are doing their level best to have an impact.Dr. Raymond Codrington, President and CEO of Weeksville Heritage Center, 2022 Spark Prize Winners
Spark Prize Winners
Arab-American Family Support Center
Kings Against Violence Initiative
STEM From Dance (pictured)
Workers Justice Project
Arab American Association of New York (pictured)
Black Women’s Blueprint
Brooklyn Movement Center
Groundswell Community Mural Project
Weeksville Heritage Center
Brownsville Community Justice Center
Children of Promise, NYC (pictured)
Noel Pointer Foundation
North Brooklyn Coalition
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
The Campaign Against Hunger (pictured)
Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation
Girls for Gender Equity
Red Hook Community Justice Center
Center for Law and Social Justice
GRIOT Circle (pictured)
Red Hook Initiative
Audre Lorde Project
Make the Road New York (pictured)
Spark Prize Committee
We can’t accomplish our Spark Prize without the dedication of Brooklynites who shared their time and expertise as members of the Spark Prize Committee. This diverse group of civic leaders, philanthropists, activists, entrepreneurs, and artists reviews hundreds of applications, interviews the 20 finalists, and ultimately selects five $100,000 winners. Not only do Committee members bring their unique talents to the process—they also discover a side of Brooklyn they never knew, and in turn help spotlight incredible, yet often overlooked, local nonprofits.
Corporate VP and Associate General Counsel, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Chief People Officer, VICE Media
Principal, Amazing Bone Advisory
Vice President, Totem
Nonprofit Management Consultant
Financial Professional, New York Life Insurance
Principal and Co-Founder, DalyGonzalez
Program Officer & Trustee, Sills Family Foundation
Managing Director, Oaktree Solutions
CEO & President, LoriLu Consulting
Sommelier-at-Large, & Sons Hospitality Group
Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer, Ford Foundation
Partner, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf
President, Prospect Park Alliance
Equal Employment Opportunity Officer
Mother (Account Supervisor), Mother NY
Program Coordinator, Brooklyn Public Library Business & Career Center
Assistant Professor, Adelphi University
Partner, Bolton St. Johns
Partner and Co-Head, Global FIG at Apollo
Executive Director, The Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Executive Director, Commonfund Institute
CCO/VP for Strategic Partnerships, New-York Historical Society
Executive Director, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
Psychotherapist & Author
Join Us This Giving Tuesday
Give where you live this Giving Tuesday, November 28th to support our 2024 Spark Prize finalists alongside hundreds of other deserving local nonprofit organizations. We're matching donations to each of our 20 finalists up to $5,000!
Spark Prize Guidance For Interested Nonprofits
The Spark Prize application opens annually each Spring; finalists are announced in the Fall, and winners are announced in January of the following year.
- Monday, April 24, 2023: Spark Prize Application Released
- Wednesday, June 28, 2023 at 5PM: Applications Due
- Late October 2023: Finalists Announced
- October-November 2023: Finalists Interviews
- November 28, 2023: #BrooklynGives on Giving Tuesday
- January 2024: Winners Announced
- March 2024: Spark Breakfast
Interested organizations must meet each of the following requirements:
- Serve people and communities of Brooklyn
- Be in operation for longer than five years
- Can show a minimum organizational budget of $200,000 for most recent fiscal year
- Have a 501c3 letter or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from a fiscal sponsor
- Have an active governing body (i.e., Board of Trustees, Advisory Board, etc.)
- We encourage organizations that are not current Brooklyn Org grantees to apply, including those that applied for the Spark Prize in previous years (including finalists). Current BKO grantees are also eligible to apply. Former winners are not eligible to apply.
Please note that we do not fund the following:
- Capital campaigns,
- Schools (public, private, or charter)
Partnership with Our Grantees
In addition to general operating support, we provide capacity building support in the following areas: racial justice, fundraising, strategic communications, board development, executive transition, financial management, advocacy, direct action, community organization, and leadership development.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are you looking for 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 in the space allotted. There are three Application Criteria that we would like you to detail within this word count: Born in Brooklyn, Commitment to Equity, and Vision for the Future.
- How do you assess commitment to equity? Brooklyn Org 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 communities of color.
- 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 highly recommended that you highlight how your work in Brooklyn is part of the vision.
- If we are a current Brooklyn Org grantee, can we apply? Yes, current and past grantees are eligible to apply.
- 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 $200,000 or more. This award is not for emerging organizations.
- Is there a maximum operations budget for applying organizations? There is no maximum budget requirement, only a minimum.
- 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? The Spark Prize is designed to honor organizations with a long history in Brooklyn. As such, all organizations that can demonstrate this are encouraged to apply, however the most competitive applications come from organizations that are founded and headquartered in Brooklyn.
- 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, including a deep history of programming in Brooklyn, you are eligible to apply.
- 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 on 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.
- Can we submit videos, press clips or kits with our application? 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.
- What does Brooklyn Gives on 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. Brooklyn Org 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
- What are expectations regarding reporting from the Spark Prize winners? We ask organizations to submit a short grantee report at the end of the year and participate in an exit visit that captures stories of how the Prize helps transform or propel organizations, and any feedback to refine the Prize for future years.