Youth Tech and Cultural Equity Collaborations: Where NYCT Grants Have Been Going Lately

Earlier this fall, we highlighted the New York Community Trust’s role in driving funder collaboratives in the city. And two recent grant commitments really tap into this collaborative spirit and serve as further examples of how this foundation values partnerships. As you may know, New York City is preparing for its first comprehensive cultural plan, and NYCT will play a part in how this is shaped.

The local funder recently committed $530,000 to grants that support efforts to boost equality in the New York’s cultural landscape. There’s a big push for racial equality in arts and culture in the city, and these grants will be largely going towards this purpose.

NYCT is one of the prominent funders of the New York City Cultural Agenda Fund, but it’s by no means the only one. The Booth Ferris, Lambent, Stavros Niarchos, and Robert Rauschenberg Foundations, as well as the David Rockefeller and Rockefeller Brothers Funds are also chipping in to help. This fund is getting a lot of attention right now, but it’s an initiative that’s actually been around since 2014. Since that time, over $1.6 million has been contributed by funders to advance cultural policy and equity.

Racial equity among arts groups is a hot topic right now, and so we weren't surprised to see that the largest recent NYCT cultural equity grant went to Race Forward, which received $400,000 for a training series and technical assistance program that will guide dozens of arts groups on issues of racial justice and help them create racial equity promotion plans within their organizations.

Other grants of $10,000 went to groups like the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s Cultural Equity Coalition, and Staten Island Arts. Going beyond nonprofit support, NYCT also gave $33,5000 to Hester Street Collaborative, which is the lead consultant for the New York’s cultural plan.

“We are excited to provide crucial support to groups poised to advance cultural equity during this historic moment as the City crafts its first cultural plan,” says Fund co-chair Kerry McCarthy, program director for thriving communities (including arts and historic preservation) at NYCT. “We are confident these grantees will produce town hall meetings, assessments, policy briefs, and networks that will make meaningful contributions.”

However, this is just one of the recent NYCT grantmaking efforts that we want to highlight today. The other one is all about youth and technology. But more specifically, it’s aimed at helping youth create their own original music, documentary films, and advocacy campaigns for current issues like immigration and school discipline reform.  

We’re talking about the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund at the New York Community Trust here, and an additional $800,000 was kicked into the fund to make these types of technology-driven learning opportunities available to New York City youth. Again, NYCT is in good company with this effort and has contributed to the fund along with the Altman Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and Stavros Niarchos Foundation. This latest $800,000 brings the six-year total contributions over $8 million. We've covered this interesting work in the past. 

Related: Shameless Self-Promotion: How the Hive Digital Media Fund Promotes Its Members

Most of the projects being funded by this latest commitment were originally intubated with Hive funding and are now expanding to reach more teens and on deeper levels. Across 13 grants, most of the new grantees received $100,000 awards, with a few less than that. Grantees include the Beam Center, NYC Salt, and Reel Works. The overarching focus of these grants has been to teach teens about important social and cultural issues through modern media and inspire creativity that leads to action.

Aside from these youth tech and cultural equity collaborations, this funder is still doing plenty of work on its own as well. NYCT just announced over $12 million in new grants to 69 nonprofits, and highlighted efforts address third-grade reading level, seniors and substance abuse, wild bird species in New York City, and housing for female veterans. Other recently funded areas include arts and education, women and girls, help for immigrants, countering Islamaphobia, human justice, gang prevention, jobs, hunger and homelessness, housing, safer chemicals, and more.

Yet collaboration with other funders and giving to collaborative nonprofit efforts continues to be central to this funder’s strategy, and that's not expected to change anytime soon. Learn more about applying for a NYCT grant here.

Related: NYCT Has Been a Leader on Funder Collaboratives for Decades. What's It Learned?