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Brooklyn Community Foundation Invests $2.5M in Youth-Serving Programs Led by People of Color

Through the organization’s Invest in Youth grant-making initiative, it has distributed $2.5 million to 56 organizations in 2022.
Brooklyn Community Foundation presented a million dollar check to school children in Flatbush and Canarsie, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies, as part of a recent investment. Photo: Provided/Jamon Davis for NYC Kids RISE.

On a mission to spark lasting social change, the Brooklyn Community Foundation is making big investments in the borough’s youth.

“I am proud that we are such a champion for young people in Brooklyn,” said Jocelynne Rainey, president and CEO of BCF.

Through the organization’s Invest in Youth initiative, BCF has distributed $2.5 million in grant funds to 56 youth-serving organizations in 2022.

“These long-term investments are amplifying the power of youth voices and the leadership of young people as key players in building a fair and just future for Brooklyn,” Rainey said.

IIY is the foundation's largest strategic racial justice grant-making initiative. It has distributed nearly $20 million since 2015.

Every year, general operating support grants of up to $45,000 a year for a three-year period are available to youth-serving organizations working in the areas of leadership, justice and immigration.

The recipients are selected with a focus on racial justice. In 2022, 80% of grant recipients are led by people of color, and 54% are Black-led.

Organizations with smaller operating budgets are also prioritized. In 2022, 75% of recipients' budgets are under $2 million, and 43% of budgets are under $1 million.

Decisions about the grants and the recipients are made in partnership with community members through the BCF’s participatory grant-making model.

The initiative is funded by donors and with fees from the foundation’s Donor Advised Fund program.

2022 leadership grants:

First-year grantees include:

Day One New York, Inc.: For programs to end dating abuse and intimate partner violence among youth. The program connects survivors to direct support services including counseling and case management. Serving Boroughwide.

First Tech Fund, Inc: For programs to close the digital divide for low-income high schoolers by providing access to technology and college guidance. Students receive free laptops and internet access, targeted advising and networking, and mentorship from industry-specific professionals. Serving Boroughwide.

GrowHouse NYC: To support arts and activism programming that connects young Black creatives and activists to older artists for support and mentorship. This includes a gap year program for Black high school graduates to learn about equitable design and history through workshops and a community design school. Serving Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Health and Education Alternatives for Teens Program: To support developmentally and culturally competent wraparound services for LGBTQ+ youth of color. Services span STI and HIV prevention and treatment, hormone therapy for trans and gender non-conforming youth and mental healthcare. Serving Boroughwide.

Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet: For dance and cross-disciplinary arts education and cultural programming led by teaching artists serving under-resourced and Title-1 schools. Serving Boroughwide.

Opening Act NYC: For free, professionally designed theater programming for students of color in under-resourced public schools. This includes youth in the NYCDOE’s Alternative High School programs pursuing their GED following a disruption in their education. Serving Boroughwide.

Teens Take Charge: For student-led advocacy to advance racial equity in public schools. This program includes researching and building campaigns around issues that impact the wider student population and conducting workshops. Serving Boroughwide.

The Alex House Project: To support young parents and families in Red Hook with programs that provide essential resources. This includes basic supplies, childcare and mental health counseling. Serving Red Hook.

Tomorrow's Leaders NYC, Inc.: To support mentorship and youth development programs in East New York. These programs focus on helping over-age middle and high school students who have been held back in the public school system to overcome challenges so they can graduate. Serving East New York.

One-year grant extensions include:

Building Beats: To support DJ and music programs for young people of color. Serving Boroughwide.

Footsteps: To support formerly ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth transitioning into mainstream society. Footsteps provides leadership development and peer connections. Serving Crown Heights, Borough Park, Kensington, Flatbush and Williamsburg.

STEM from Dance: To support a cohesive learning experience in which dance is used to introduce girls of color to computer science. Serving Boroughwide.

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: To engage court-involved youth as actors and playwrights in a comprehensive theater program that uses real-life stories of the youth actors. Serving Boroughwide.

United Community Centers: To support the operation and management of one of the city’s largest youth-led farms and a sexual health-focused peer education program. Serving East New York.

viBe Theater Experience: To support programming that engages girls and young women of color to write, direct, and perform personal collaborative theater and music. Serving Boroughwide.

Youth Design Center: For a community-based creative agency and community design center that provides a gateway for young people to learn marketable skills in STEAM. Youth Design Center was formerly known as “Made in Brownsville.” Serving Brownsville.

2022 Youth justice grants:

First-year grantees include:

Center for Community Alternatives: For programming that connects justice-involved youth in Brownsville to community-based support services, paid training, internships and jobs. The program also develops their leadership through a youth council that focuses on community issues and opportunities. Serving Brownsville.

Children's Defense Fund-New York: To address the disproportionate impact of poverty on children, with work that includes:

  • Partnering with young people on social justice advocacy
  • Running a summer program in Brooklyn’s juvenile detention facilities
  • Launching a two-year pilot project led by foster system-impacted youth that will be the first direct cash transfer program (Universal Basic Income) to support former foster youth who have “aged out” of care across the city. Serving Boroughwide.

Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative: To support Black and Latinx youth in Coney Island through mentoring, advocacy, and numerous community programs. Serving Coney Island.

JobsFirstNYC: For programs to strengthen the capacity of workforce development institutions with a goal of improving economic mobility for young adults. Serving Boroughwide.

Pure Legacee, Inc.: To support young women and new mothers in Brownsville who are directly impacted by the criminal justice and foster care systems. The program offers comprehensive trauma-formed support with peer mentorship, mental health and substance misuse support, and training. Serving Brownsville.

You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption and Permanency Movement: For programs that connect youth in foster care to permanent and adoptive families. As well as a fellowship program that covers public speaking, art advocacy, and storytelling. Serving Boroughwide.

One-year grant extensions include:

Drive Change: To provide training and first job experience for formerly incarcerated young people through a nonprofit food truck. Serving Bedford Stuyvesant and Bushwick.

Flex Dance Program: To support a Flex Dance and creative mentorship program aimed at reducing the likelihood of recidivism. Serving Boroughwide.

Good Call NYC: To support the launch of a technology-enabled hotline to provide immediate legal support in case of arrest. Serving Boroughwide.

UPROSE: For community public education and leadership programs for youth that advance environmental sustainability and resiliency. Serving Sunset Park, South Slope and Gowanus.

2022 immigrant grants:

First-year grantees include:

Churches United for Fair Housing, Inc.: For programming that engages youth in community organizing for housing justice. This includes a summer youth program where teenagers learn about organizing and advocacy around issues such as gentrification and segregation. Serving Boroughwide.

¡Oye! Group: To support free arts programming that engages Black and Latinx youth in Bushwick. This includes the creation of original plays about topics relevant to the community, workshops and re-entry support for youth in juvenile detention facilities. Serving Bushwick.

Parent-Child Relationship Association Inc.: To support a comprehensive range of services to improve parent-child relationships in families with teenagers. As well as addressing the social needs of Chinese immigrant families. Serving Sunset Park.

YVote/Next Gen Politics: For youth-led civic engagement programming including organizing and creating policy proposals. Serving Boroughwide.

One-year grant extensions include:

New York State Youth Leadership Council: To support undocumented immigrant youth organizing around access to higher education and healthcare, protection from deportation, and the right to work. Serving Boroughwide, Sunset Park and Prospect Heights.

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