Why This Local Brooklyn Funder is Getting National Praise

News about local funding often stays local, but sometimes a foundation emerges as an example for others to followregardless of where they’re located. This is certainly the case with the Brooklyn Community Foundation, which recently won a 2015 Impact Award from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.   

This particular award was given in the category of “Grantmaking Public Charity,” and Cecilia Clarke, the foundation president, accepted the award on May 20. So what makes BCF such an exemplary funder to follow?

Here are a few of our favorite things BCF is doing right now:

  • “Brooklyn Insights” community outreach to identify pressing neighborhood needs
  • Grantmaking focus on 16- to 24-year-olds of color
  • “Incubator Project” to boost new startups in Crown Heights
  • Free community rental space for nonprofit and community meetings
  • Free training for locals interested in serving on nonprofit boards

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) is a D.C.-based watchdog group that has evaluated the effectiveness of funders since 1976. However, these Impact Awards honoring high-performing foundations have only been awarded since 2013. Although this type of recognition is all sunshine and roses, NCRP also issues some tough assessments of foundations through its Philamplify project. 

Related: Why is the William Penn Foundation Being Examined by a Philanthropy Watchdog Group? 

Other National Impact Award recipients this year included the Blue Shield of California Foundation, New York Foundation, Open Society Foundation, and the Needmor Fund.

BCF hasn’t been on the grantmaking scene for very long (just since 2009), so this sort of national attention is kind of a big deal. No longer can BCF consider itself a startup, and it’s quickly been bumped up to the big leagues. But with great praise comes great responsibility, and all eyes are on this local funder's next moves in New York's largest borough.

Right now, BCF focuses grantmaking on five causes: neighborhood cohesion, youth, criminal justice, immigrant communities and racial justice. Given the results of the recent community outreach survey results, these are likely to remain the focus areas for at least several years.

To learn more about what BCF cares about and its theory of change, check out IP’s profile of New York giving. Local nonprofits should also sign up for email updates from the foundation and check out the Events page from time to time to get involved with this funder.

The New York Foundation’s support for local affordable housing is definitely worth a look as well. Check out the NCRP blog about rent increases and rent-stabilized apartments to learn more.