Six Key Highlights from NYCT’s Most Recent Local Grantmaking

 photo:  Maciej Bledowski/shutterstock

photo:  Maciej Bledowski/shutterstock

The New York Community Trust (NYCT) stands out lately for its unwavering support for immigrant rights, countering Islamophobia, and promoting cultural equity in a variety of ways. But beyond the high-profile advocacy work, there are a lot of gears turning within this community foundation.

NYCT recently announced 64 new grants totaling $7.5 million to improve life in New York City and the broader region. These grants range widely and, as we’ve noted, this is a funder that's involved in a lot of things happening around the city. Like many community foundations these days, it's not content to just push out grant money; it's keen to play a civic leadership role and catalyze efforts that wouldn't happen otherwise. Here are some highlights.

1. Sustainability Through Technology

New York needs greener, cleaner, and more energy-efficient start-ups, and entrepreneurs need a way to secure powerful connections to make it happen. NYCT partnered with BP Ventures and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to support a pitch competition for technologies that can help New York City achieve its sustainability goals. With grants from these sources, Urban Future Competition winners will receive cash prizes, membership into the premier cleantech incubator, and partnership opportunities with corporate and public agencies.

2. Grants for New Programs

While some NYCT grantees receive support for multiple years, the trust also considers new programs on a regular basis. One example of new program funding is $120,000 the Mount Sinai Hospital grant toward improving reproductive and sexual healthcare for low-income black and Hispanic teens in New York City. It also backed the New York City Workforce Development Fund to prepare low-skilled immigrants for jobs.

3. A Healthier South Bronx

A big project that NYCT has been funding lately is all about the health of South Bronx residents. NYCT is supporting three neighborhoods in the South Bronx, Mott Haven, Morrisania and Hunts Point with health funding since 2015. The focus is on better food and more usable outdoor space. Most recently, the funder awarded $200,000 to BronxWorks, $200,000 to Claremont Neighborhood Centers, and $200,000 to Urban Health Plan for this purpose.

4. Preparations for Closing Rikers

Rikers Island is closing, and there’s a lot that needs to be done before that happens. NYCT has been funding efforts to close Rikers and also to make sure that court-involved New Yorkers get the mental help that they need. To this end, the funder recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services and a $75,000 grant to JustLeadershipUSA. While officials have promised to close Rikers, many changes to the statewide criminal justice system are required first. Therefore, the trust is backing better infrastructure, supporting community jails as a Rikers alternative, and influencing lawmakers to pass speedy trial and bail reforms.

5. Arts and Culture/Van Lier Fellowships

The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund assists young people who desire careers in the arts, especially students who are from underrepresented groups. This year’s Van Lier Fellowships backs artists between 18 and 30 who weren’t already enrolled in academic programs. The trust gave nine grants totaling $915,000 to organizations that offer one-year and two-year fellowships, including ARTs East New York, Roulette Intermedium, and Wave Hill.

6. Legislative Advocacy

Supporting advocacy is much on the minds of the leadership of NYCT these days. Given the volatile political climate right now and threats to funding, NYCT is committed to helping nonprofits respond quickly and with greater power. A new example of this is NYCT’s $100,000 grant to the Advocacy Institute to expand legislative advocacy training and resources for nonprofits.

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Of course, this is just a small sampling of NYCT’s latest funding. Education and LGBTQ health were also hot topics for local grantmaking this round. Earlier this month, the community funder awarded nearly $1 million to New York City groups working in the areas of DACA advocacy, know-your-rights training, and emergency planning for immigrants. You can learn more about other recent NYCT grantees in a wide variety of funding areas here.

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