The New York Community Trust recently announced its fifth and final round of grantmaking for 2016, bringing the year total to almost $47 million. At the end of each year, we like to take a quick look at how NYCT’s year-end grantmaking played out in comparison to past years and speculate as to what might be coming next.
Of NYCT’s latest $6.2 million commitment, 50 local nonprofits saw money flow into their pockets. This is an increase from the last grantmaking round of 2015, which saw $5.1 million in new commitments to 42 nonprofits. At the end of last year, we wrote about how the predominant focuses were preparing youth for college and career, disease research and treatment, and community needs like financial education for adults and hoarding among senior citizens.
Here are a few things that stood out to us about NYCT’s end-of-the-year funding for 2016.
One particularly interesting cause that NYCT has gotten behind is Fixing Access-A-Ride. NYCT will be the first one to tell you that this program isn’t working for the MTA or riders, thanks to slow pickup times, no-show drivers, and a growing elderly population. The funder committed two grants to fixing this transportation issue: a $300,000 one to New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and a $75,000 one to New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. By supporting these two groups, NYCT hopes to assess the problem with hard data and find a better way.
New York’s elderly population continues to be a top priority for NYCT, not just in terms of transportation but mental health as well. This is playing off the momentum of 2015 grantmaking. Although there are 250 senior centers in the city, NYCT points out that they aren’t always offering programs that are engaging to older adults, especially older adults as diverse as the ones living in New York. NYCT is interested in updating the services offered at these centers, especially to benefit seniors who have low income and low education levels.
Also, NYCT kicked in another $50,000 for volunteer teams as part of the Aging in New York Fund to bring healthy foods to seniors. Additionally, it gave $200,000 to Weill Cornell Medicine to test a new form of gene therapy to treat glaucoma, which affects around three million Americans who are mostly seniors.
Inner-City Public Schools
NYCT has been a long-time supporter of equitable education for city schools and funded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity for a decade before a favorable decision was made a decade ago. But making the state fund city schools just as much as suburban and upstate ones remains just as important as ever to this funder.
The financial crisis hit the state budget hard immediately following that decision, but with the economy on the rebound, NYCT is committed to ensuring that it keeps its promise. One way that it’s doing this is by supporting the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York with a new $100,000 grant. Other ways that NYCT supported public education in this most recent grantmaking ground was by giving the Donor’s Education Collaborative a $150,000 grant to support advocacy for public education reform, giving the New Teacher Center a $120,000 grant to expand a teacher mentoring program in 120 public schools, and by giving $100,000 to Parents for Inclusive Education to advocate for better access to public schools for students with physical disabilities.
Other areas of particular interest that emerged from the final round of 2016 grantmaking and will likely continue into the new year include sports-oriented youth development, improving early childhood education, and advocating for the interests of immigrants in the wake of the recent election. Affordable housing for low-income families, especially in neighborhoods being up-zoned for higher density, is also a big concern of this funder.
At this time, the only open RFP at NYCT is for small nonprofits arts and cultural groups in the city to build capacity. Grant proposals for this are due January 11, and you can learn more about the opportunity here.