Kerry McCarthy, The New York Community Trust

TITLE: Thriving Communities, Arts and Historic Preservation Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Performing arts, classical arts, education, justice, and historic art preservation

CONTACT: kem@nyct-cfi.org, 212-686-0010

IP TAKE: McCarthy makes grants with two primary goals: First, to "help arts organizations attract broader audiences and provide opportunities for artists from diverse backgrounds." And second, to support landmark preservation projects in low-income and minority neighborhoods and restoration projects in places that "represent significant and overlooked aspects of New York City's history."

PROFILE: Beginning in 2009, Kerry McCarthy was a program officer for The New York Community Trust. And with more than 20 years' experience in museum and arts administration, McCarthy certainly knows her way around New York’s robust arts landscape. Today she serves as the program director for the Thriving Communities and Arts and Historic Preservation programs.

Previous to joining The Trust, McCarthy ran a consulting company serving New York City nonprofit arts organizations, as well as more than 20 years of experience in museum and performing arts administration with organizations spanning the Queens Museum of Art to Jim Henson Productions.

McCarthy received her bachelor's degree from Seanee: The University of the South. She then made the pilgrimage to NYC, receiving her master's in Folk Art Studies from New York University. She is also a graduate of Coro's Leadership New York Program.

The Trust—one of the largest private funders of NYC's nonprofits, making roughly $130 million in grants locally each year—has long been a supporter of the city's arts organizations. Currently, The Trust's arts program has a strong undertone of building equity in the arts and expanding arts access to diverse audiences.

For arts organizations in New York, The New York Community Trust funds projects aimed at underserved communities throughout the region. Specifically, grants are made to organizations that promote diversity and expand access, develop young artists from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds, and strengthen arts advocacy. The Trust has also a goal of improving arts education in public schools.

"The arts help people learn how to think critically and independently come up with ideas," McCarthy said in a statement. "They also help children develop problem-solving skills. But more important, the arts are an expression of our common humanity and our culture."

In December 2011, the foundation made nearly $500,000 available to eight arts organizations in NYC, with the hope that "[our] participation will foster commitment to reintegrating arts into the school curriculum." This commitment to arts education certainly plays a significant role in shaping the foundation's arts funding approach.

Another example of an arts education grant that highlights this approach came more recently when McCarthy made a $25,000 grant for Arts Horizon's ArtsBeat program, which sends teaching artists into four hospitals throughout New York City to work with special-needs young people ages 11 to 21. The ArtsBeat program addresses many of the foundation's arts goals, such as expanding access, providing educational opportunities, and working with underserved and younger arts audiences.

"We hope that this grant brings joy to a special community of young New Yorkers," McCarthy said at the time. "Arts programming has transformational powers and is a vitally important part of the healing process."

The foundation's arts program has also made a push to engage young people using 21st century technology. The Trust's Hive Digital Media Learning Fund supports organizations that use technology to educate young people. The fund provided more than $1 million in funding to several organizations. New York Grantmakers in the Arts—an organization McCarthy cochairs—wrote a great blog post about the program.

For arts funding, The Trust prioritizes midsize groups with operating budgets of more than $250,000, as well as ethnic groups that provide arts learning and other arts projects outside of Manhattan. The Trust also supports professional development opportunities for young artists from its Van Lier Fellowship Fund.

The Trust also provides financial support for historic preservation in low-income and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Their preservation grantmaking is centered on projects that foster collaboration between preservation groups and neighboring communities.

The El Barrio Artspace is a recent example of a foundation preservation grant, which is a project to convert a 19th century school into a living and work space for 90 artists and their families. The Trust and McCarthy made a $50,000 grant to form a community advisory board for the project, and a second $50,000 was used to develop plans that would meet federal, state, and local requirements for low-income housing and historic preservation funding.

Interested grantseekers can find information online, including the foundation's current requests for proposals.