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Brooklyn Community Foundation Announces 2019 Winners of $100,000 Spark Prize

BCF’s annual Spark Prize honors local organizations for their pioneering approaches to advancing racial and social justice throughout the borough.
2019 Spark Prize Winners, BK Reader
The 2019 Spark Prize Winners!

Five Brooklyn nonprofit organizations selected as lead examples in their approach to "sparking change" in the borough will receive $100,000 each in grant support, announced Brooklyn Community Foundation on Thursday.

Bed-Stuy's Campaign Against Hunger, Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation, Girls for Gender Equity, Red Hook Community Justice Center and VOCAL-NY were chosen to receive BCF's annual Spark Prize for pioneering creative and effective approaches to advancing racial and social justice throughout the borough.

The winners were selected from a competitive pool of more than 120 applicants by a committee of 35 Brooklyn civic, business and community leaders.

"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."

The 2019 Spark Prize Winners

The Campaign Against Hunger 

The Campaign Against Hunger
The Campaign Against Hunger. Photo credit:

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 three 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

Cypress Hills Child Care Corporationypress Hills Child Care Corporation
Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation. Photo credit: CHCCC/ Facebook

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

Girls for Gender Equity
Girls for Gender Equity Photo credit:

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

Red Hook Community Justice Center
Red Hook Community Justice Center. Photo credit: court

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

Voices of Community Activists and Leaders. Photo credit:

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.

Reverend Emma Jordan Simpson
Reverend Emma Jordan Simpson. Photo credit: Peace News

The winners will receive their awards at the Spark Breakfast on Thursday, February 28, from 8:00am -10:00am at BAM Lepercq Space, 30 Lafayette Avenue.

The event will also pay tribute to the esteemed community leader Reverend Emma Jordan Simpson. Currently, Simpson serves as the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 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.

Tickets to the breakfast are available here