Foundation responds to troubled times with $2.3M in Brooklyn grants

July 6, 2012 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Brooklyn Community Foundation, the borough’s largest public foundation, has announced $2.3 million in grants for 2012, equaling the amount for the previous years and helping 138 local nonprofits.

The grants were selected from the foundation’s largest single-cycle applicant pool since it began in 1998 as the Independence Community Foundation, Marilyn Gelber, the foundation’s president, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Grant recipients stretch from DUMBO and Red Hook to Coney Island and Bay Ridge to Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.

“When people talk about Brooklyn, they often speak of the quality of life here. Yet revitalization is leaving a lot of our neighbors behind, and our nonprofit community is acutely feeling the demands for their services,” said foundation Board Chairman Alan Fishman.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Grants ranged from $2,500 to $25,000, and were divided among five separate donor-supported funds: Education & Youth Achievement, Arts for All, Community Development, Caring Neighbors and Green Communities.

Many of the foundation’s largest grants went to well-known institutions.

  • St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO is getting a $25,000 “challenge grant” to encourage ticket-buyers to subscribe and to donate to the organization. In the past, said Gelber, “the organization didn’t have much of a subscriber base, and it mainly depended on individual ticket sales. But now, moving into its new home at 29 Jay St. and the possibility of someday moving to the Tobacco Warehouse, St. Ann’s wants to make its base more secure.”
  • The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is getting $25,000 to help create a program around a sensory room for children on the autism spectrum. It is filled with interactive toys, multi-media exhibits and games for kids who have trouble relating to traditional exhibits. “We’re also giving a grant to the Transit Museum for children with special needs–these children need to be able to enjoy these facilities,” said Gelber.
  • The Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island is getting $25,000 to hire the organization’s first-ever grant writer. The significance of a well-established community group applying for such a position, said Gelber, is that there is less and less public money to support non-profits, increasingly making them solicit funds from the private sector.
  • St. John’s Bread and Life, the largest emergency food provider in the borough, is receiving $25,000 to expand its food pantry, provide cooking classes and distribute more food and fresh produce. All over the borough, food pantries are having trouble meeting increased needs. This Bedford-Stuyvesant-based institution is closely allied with St. John’s University.
  • The Prospect Park Alliance is receiving $25,000 for “restoration, maintenance and operations.” Even though Prospect Park is probably the best-funded of Brooklyn’s public parks, with an extremely active support group, said Gelber, “the support it gets is so little compared to the amounts raised by the Central Park Conservancy and the Friends of the High Line.”
  • Brooklyn Community Services, formerly the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Services, is receiving $25,000 for “family cohesion workshops” in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, led by social workers. “This agency has been around for a long time,” said Gelber, “but many people are only aware of its programs in the Downtown area, like its sheltered workshop, and not its other programs.”

Otyer “big winners” to receive $25,000 include the Brooklyn Museum; the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, which is often highlighted in the Brooklyn Eagle’s Daily Bulletin pages; Housing and Solutions, which provides housing for the formerly homeless in Central Brooklyn; CAMBA, an all-around social service organization serving Flatbush; the Pratt-Area Community Council, for efforts to attract small businesses to Fulton Street in Fort Greene; the HOPE Program, a Downtown-based group that provides job training and placement for unemployed and under-employed Brooklynites; Lutheran Family Health Center, for early education and literacy programs in Sunset Park; and Girls for Gender Equity, which helps inner-city teen girls stand up to sexual harassment.

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