Insights to Impact

The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation


Nearly $550,000 in New COVID-19 Grants Address Urgent Needs in Communities of Color, Including Vaccine Education and Navigation

Pictured Above: Members of Mixteca Organization conduct
community outreach in Sunset Park, January 2021


As the COVID-19 pandemic surpasses the one-year mark, we are announcing $541,000 in new grants from our Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund to address ongoing health, economic, and social challenges in communities of color. 

Grants are being awarded through two programs: Community Health Outreach & Support grants to help grassroots nonprofits provide culturally relevant, medically accurate outreach and navigation for COVID-19 health services, including vaccines; and Immediate Response grants for urgent and ongoing needs caused by the pandemic, including anti-Asian bias and violence, food and housing insecurity, and lost wages.

These grants are informed by our Brooklyn Insights 2020 community engagement process, through which Brooklyn residents in communities of color indicated both the increasing severity of ongoing economic and social impacts of the pandemic, as well as a scarcity of trustworthy medical information and resources on COVID-19, including transmission, treatments, and vaccines. 

Grants are going to organizations serving the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Coney Island, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Flatbush, and Sunset Park, as well as key demographic groups, including Black, indigenous and people of color, immigrants, low-wage workers, people who are LGBTQIAGNC+, women and youth, who have experienced vastly disproportionate impacts of the pandemic.

We launched the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund in March 2020, and awarded over $3.3 million last year. With more than $3 million in projected new funding commitments, we anticipates that the Fund’s total grantmaking will approach $7 million. 

Connecting Communities with Trusted Healthcare Messengers

As of this week, Brooklyn has the lowest percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated of all five boroughs. Moreover, just 16% of Black Brooklynites and 18% of Latinx Brooklynites are fully vaccinated. In response to the disparities in vaccine access experienced by communities of color, as well as conversations with Brooklyn residents who shared their concerns over the severe lack of trusted health information and access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are providing $250,000 in Community Health Outreach & Support grants of $10,000 each to 25 nonprofits, including:

  • Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health to address the general lack of knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccine and fear and misinformation about vaccine safety in communities of color across the borough through outreach at neighborhood businesses and gathering spaces.

  • Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services to expand vaccination-related support services and free COVID-19 testing to immigrant residents without insurance in East New York. 

  • Brownsville Community Culinary Center to create a public health information campaign to address legitimate concerns over the vaccination roll-out and the history of medical racism, to engage residents with dignity, to work to dispel fears around the vaccination, and work to increase the number of vaccinations made available and received in the Black community.

  • Center for Nu Leadership on Human Justice and Healing to build a network of medical, clinical, mental health, and spiritual leaders who can serve as credible health information messengers to address the distrust, anger, and frustration prevalent in Bedford Stuyvesant.

  • East New York Restoration Development Corporation to set up information tables at local train stations to share accurate information about the virus and the vaccine with a focus on reaching essential workers outside of the health field.

  • GenSpace to create the Community Health Ambassadors Program, which will serve as both an educational and youth development tool for residents of Sunset Park to understand more about the vaccine and the science that is used to create vaccines, while empowering them to make informed decisions about their health.

  • Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth & Families, Inc. to increase staff outreach to help undocumented Latinx and indigenous residents get accurate information around COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

In addition to this funding, we will also gather grantees to provide coaching and support from healthcare experts focused on racial equity, while fostering connections and sharing successful strategies and advice with each other to promote access to care and accurate information on COVID-19 across our focus communities.

Support for Ongoing Urgent Needs

Over the course of the pandemic, Brooklyn’s grassroots nonprofits have stepped in to meet the immense need in their communities, pivoting to providing direct relief in the form of cash assistance, food deliveries, virtual social services, and much more. Last spring, we issued over $2 million to support this work through the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund’s Phase 1 Immediate Response grants. We are now providing an additional $291,000 to 30 frontline nonprofits, through grants of up to $10,000 each. Among those receiving renewed support are:

  • G-M.A.C.C. Inc, a Cure Violence program, to provide mini-cash grants to residents in Brownsville and East Flatbush to cover utility costs, purchase PPE, and meet other urgent needs.

  • Worker's Justice Project to support and protect food delivery workers and domestic workers, including providing direct cash assistance and personal protective equipment.

  • Caribbean Women's Health Association to provide financial support and baby supplies for pregnant or postpartum clients in Central and East Brooklyn.

  • The Healing Center to provide support services and emergency food boxes to immigrant survivors of family violence in Sunset Park.

Four grants are funding community-led responses to growing Anti-Asian bias and violence by Apex for Youth, Asian American Federation, Chinese-American Planning Council, and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance 

These new grants reflect the vastly disproportionate challenges Brooklyn’s communities of color have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

In addition to the above grants, $2.5 million from the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund will be invested in organizations fighting for social change to address the unjust systems and policies that have led to and exacerbated the unequal impacts of the pandemic on communities of color. Community-led Social Change grants of up to $75,000 per year for five years will support community organizing and power building, community collaborations through coalitions, and advocacy. Applications are due Friday, May 7, 2021. Learn more at


Liane Stegmaier

Chief of Staff (She/Her/Hers)