Crown Heights is a dynamic, culturally rich neighborhood in the heart of Brooklyn. Over the decades, this distinct community has endured and thrived through cross-racial tensions, struggles for better public services and schools, and effects of rapid gentrification and development.
In 2014, Brooklyn Community Foundation moved our headquarters to Crown Heights; through our new Neighborhood Strength initiative, we have committed to creating a resident-led grantmaking model, starting in our new home community. We define Crown Heights using boundaries set by the NYC Department of Planning, which include Community District 8 (Crown Heights North) and Community District 9 (Crown Heights South).
Crown Heights' vibrant civic infrastructure is a proven tool for residents in building strong community partnerships, resilient local economies, and sustainable community spaces and culture. We seek to strengthen this infrastructure by galvanizing the expertise of residents and position them as key decisions makers.
In 2015, we assembled the Crown Heights Advisory Council, a diverse group of local residents and leaders, who, working together, identified top neighborhood challenges and opportunities: the displacement of long-term residents, increased economic pressures on working class communities, lack of enrichment opportunities for youth, and the impact of unfair and discriminatory policing on communities of color.
The Council determined priorities for the 2015-16 Crown Heights Grant Program, which included a focus on supporting organizations addressing tenants’ rights & homelessness, police relationships, youth development, and stronger bonds between Crown Heights’ diverse communities. Eleven projects received $100,000 in total funding.
In 2016, a community organizer is leading the Foundation's efforts to work more closely with a broader cross-section of residents in Crown Heights to develop a larger community vision and strategy for funding local needs and opportunities through one-on-one interviews, neighborhood visioning sessions, and an expanded Advisory Council.
2015-16 Crown Heights Advisory Council
Rabbi Eli Cohen, Crown Heights Central
Amy Ellenbogen, Crown Heights Mediation Center
Ashley Harris, resident & youth leader
Jason Scott Jones, resident
Donna Mossman, Resident, Crown Heights Tenant Union
Amilcar Priestley, The Afrolatin@ Project
Regine Roumain, Haiti Cultural Exchange
Hanne Tierney, Five Myles Gallery
Keith White, resident
Grants were made in two categories:
- Nonprofits and Unincorporated Groups: Grants of $10,000 to $25,000.
- Community Residents: Grants of $5,000 to $10,000.
Brooklyn Movement Center - $15,000
The Brooklyn Movement Center, a Black-led organizing nonprofit, trains and mobilizes Central Brooklynites to lead local and city-wide policy campaigns to end abusive policing. Funds will be used for police accountability organizing and legislative advocacy in Crown Heights that mobilizes local stakeholders, creates alternative community safety approaches, and conducts know-your-rights and leadership trainings.
UHAB - $15,000
UHAB organizes tenants to fight poor living conditions in buildings neglected or abandoned by landlords; in 2013, three UHAB-organized tenant associations formed the Crown Heights Tenants Union. A $15,000 grant will support their focus on ending bad living conditions, illegal displacement, and loss of rent-regulated housing in Crown Heights by bolstering tenant and neighborhood power.
Brooklyn Clergy Action Network - $10,000
The Brooklyn Clergy Action Network mobilizes faith leaders and the community to end gun violence in low and moderate-income communities in Brooklyn. Funds will be used to establish a mentorship program for 12 to 17-year-old males designed to reduce and prevent violence by training them in methods of communication as an alternative to violence.
Global Kids - $10,000
Global Kids’ mission is to educate and inspire underserved youth to become successful students, global citizens, and community leaders. Funds will be used for the Human Rights Activist Project in three Crown Heights public schools to empower youth to advocate for community and global issues through interactive workshops on community organizing, social action, digital and social media, policy, and root causes.
NYC Coalition for Educational Justice - $10,000
NYC Coalition for Educational Justice is a parent-led movement that seeks to affect policy change and create a more equitable educational system. Funds will support local parent engagement around the Department of Education's Community Schools Initiative, which will bring over a million dollars in new resources to three Crown Heights schools.
The Youth Farm - $10,000
The Youth Farm is a one-acre farm on the Wingate Campus that grows approximately 15,000 pounds of fresh, culturally relevant crops for the Crown Heights community each year. Funds will support a year-round youth program, an advanced organic farming training program for adults, and a paid summer youth employment program.
Weeksville Heritage Center - $10,000
Weeksville Heritage Center is an historic site museum and community cultural center that preserves the legacy of the original Weeksville community founded in 1838 – one of the first and most prolific free African American communities in the United States. Funds will support a performance project featuring new oral histories and collaborations with local performing artists and teens to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Crown Heights Riots. Weeksville will also host a community dinner for residents of its immediate vicinity.
Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine - $5,000
Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine is a collaborative public art project that explores art-making as a community-building tool. Funds will be used to create and distribute an accessible guide to tenants’ rights to assist long-time residents being pushed out of their homes.
Progress Playbook - $5,000
Progress Playbook designs customized learning experiences for entrepreneurs so that they can accomplish their business goals. A $5,000 grant will provide 10 Crown Heights youth with a three-month entrepreneur training program, through which each will develop a comprehensive business plan. Three plans selected by community members will receive financial and technical assistance to launch or expand their business within Crown Heights.
Simone Leigh - $5,000
Resident Simone Leigh is receiving a $5,000 grant to support an innovative series of drumming classes and workshops for black women and girls in Crown Heights, which seeks to build bridges across cultures and communities and provide a nurturing environment where participants can relax, learn new skills, exercise, and connect in a non-competitive way.
Young Movement - $5,000
Young Movement provides research, advocacy, and partnerships on socio-economic issues like financial literacy and employment alternatives for young adults. Funds will support the Weeksville Entrepreneurship Project to train 10 young adults from the Weeksville section of Crown Heights in tools to find and create sustainable solutions to employment, financial, and health disparities in Weeksville.