The Brooklyn Community Foundation, a highly localized funder, brought on some new staff members and kicked off an entirely new program strategy in early 2015. And a couple months ago, we tipped you off that anticipated program funding areas would likely involve youth development, nonprofit leadership, the Crown Heights neighborhood, racial justice, high school graduation rates, youth arrests and school suspensions, community and civic engagement, youth employment, and access to legal and language services.
Well, we just caught up with BCF’s director of communications, Liane Stegmaier, to see how that new strategy is panning out so far. Here’s what she said when asked about what the foundation is looking for in new grantees:
We look for grantees who are excited and energized by this vision of a fair and just Brooklyn—pursuing lasting social change and greater equity. Organizations should be explicit and speak to our values, demonstrating courage in their language, respect for the communities they serve, honesty in their approach, collaboration in all aspects of their work, and creativity in tackling challenges. And we look for organizations who recognize racial injustice and the barriers to racial equity in Brooklyn, and will partner with us as we learn and develop our role in achieving equity for all.
For now, BCF grantmaking is split between youth causes, neighborhood needs, and nonprofit sector resources. Youth grantmaking revolves around connecting young people to resources within the borough and helping them realize they can be leaders. Neighborhood grantmaking is all about valuing and advancing the local ideas of local leadership. The purpose of BCF’s nonprofit sector grantmaking is to serve as an incubator for startup organizations within the foundation office, supply board training, and provide other guidance to promote capacity building in Brooklyn nonprofits.
Fortunately for grantseekers, BCF is looking for new grantees now. Organizations that focus on criminal justice, immigrants, racial justice, and neighborhood strength will be most likely to catch this funder’s attention. Support will most likely be provided in the form of multi-year general operating support and small to mid-size organizations are the target.
Stegmaier also said:
We hope to fund organizations that have an analysis on equity and justice that frames everything they do. We are really hoping to create more diversity in the traditional foundation grantee pool—funding grassroots organizations that wouldn’t typically receive foundation support.
So what else is BCF into these days?
Well, building up Brooklyn as a center for creativity and innovation is pretty high on the priority list. The foundation plans to release an update about the new Brooklyn Accelerator Award winners, which provide operating support to nonprofits. And as a new(ish) funder on the New York grantmaking scene, it’s taking a wise, cautious approach to partnering up with other donors and community leaders to measure overall impact and stay accountable to its goals.