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Brooklyn Communities Collaborative has distributed $3M to help Brooklynites get through COVID-19

July 15, 2021 Mary Frost
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An organization connected to many of Central Brooklyn’s core institutions has been helping our borough’s most vulnerable residents make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last week, Brooklyn Communities Collaborative announced it has reached its goal of handing out $3 million to help hard-hit Brooklyn neighborhoods. Since the pandemic began, 44 nonprofits have received funding from BCC’s Strong Communities Fund, which aims to address health inequities in Brooklyn and the economic and social factors that contribute to them. 

The most recent round of funding distributed $700,000 in grants to 14 Brooklyn nonprofits serving the disabled, victims of domestic violence, children living in housing projects, incarcerated youth and others. 

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While many Brooklynites may not be familiar with Brooklyn Communities Collaborative, they have probably heard of the “anchor institutions” supporting the organization. These include Maimonides Medical Center, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, CUNY, One Brooklyn Health System, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and others. 

Marilyn Fraser, MD, CEO of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and a Brooklyn Communities Collaborative board member. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Communities Collaborative

‘We knew we had to act and act quickly’

“We have all lived through one of the most challenging periods in recent history, with social injustices and the pandemic. With the devastating impact of COVID on Black and brown communities, at two times the rate of their white counterparts, we knew we had to act and act quickly,” said Marilyn Fraser, MD, CEO of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and BCC board member. 

“We began this journey to give $3 million to Brooklyn’s non-profits, knowing that these incredible organizations would continue to work every day to make this borough and our residents better. While we acknowledge that there is much more to be done, we are encouraged that we were able to assist in some way,” she said.

United Community Centers distributed more than 100 bags of food at a pop-up health fair in East New York recently. UCC is one of dozens of Brooklyn organizations that have received funding from Brooklyn Communities Collaborative. Photo by Benia Darius, courtesy of Brooklyn Communities Collaborative


Pop-up health fairs and food pantries

One of the recent grantees is United Communities Centers, a settlement house-style organization in East New York. 

“During the height of the pandemic, we began a fresh food pantry at two of our farm sites,” UCC Development Associate Director Karen Alessi told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We knew parents in our daycare had lost jobs, lost family members to COVID, had themselves been sick.”

UCC received a grant of $125,000, which the group is using to fund biweekly pop-up health fairs where bags of fresh produce, pregnancy and STI test kits, and information about SNAP/WIC and other needs are distributed.

“We were able to give out over 100 bags of food, connect people to mental health support and give away testing kits,” Alessi said. “We would not have been able to do this had we not received such a large award from BCC.” 

Tennis plus education for kids in public housing

Kings County Tennis League (, a nonprofit that combines tennis with educational activities for children living at or near public housing in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Fort Greene, received a $25,000 grant. The league includes the Marcy, Sumner, Tompkins, Lafayette Gardens, Jackie Robinson and Ingersoll Tennis Clubs.

The “grant from BCC paid for the spring after-school program at three sites and for the current summer core program at all six sites,” said Nora Ryan, executive director of KCTL. “This includes the cost of staff plus recruitment and training of over 80 volunteers.”

Financial education for immigrants

Qualitas of Life Foundation, a nonprofit which provides free, bilingual financial education workshops to Hispanic residents, was awarded $50,000. 

The lack of access to basic financial services is a persistent problem among Hispanic immigrants, said Sandra Vélez, director of education for the organization. 

“We see this grant as a perfect opportunity to empower many talented women who want to start a business or have a business idea but don’t have the tools to get started,” she said. “We know women in the Brooklyn area who are excellent cooks, can sew, are hairstylists, or have hands-on experience that, with the necessary education, will be able to start their own business, provide jobs and contribute to the local economic recovery.”

Other Brooklyn organizations receiving grants recently include the YWCA of Brooklyn ($100,000); Camp Friendship ($75,600); Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled ($63,173); Center for Community Alternatives ($55,000); Sadie Nash Leadership Project ($54,850); Madison Square Boys and Girls Club ($50,075); Her Village ($40,920); Seeds in the Middle ($35,000); Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn D.M.A. $14,000; Brooklyn Book Bodega ($10,000); and First Tech Fund ($10,000).

BCC receives support from private foundations and from Community Care of Brooklyn, a partnership of health and social service providers which coordinate care for Brooklyn’s Medicaid population. 

“BCC is actively fundraising and plans to provide additional funding and support to community-based organizations through the Strong Communities Fund in the future,” said Shari Suchoff, executive director of Brooklyn Communities Collaborative.

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