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$2.5M For Youth, Decided By Youth: An Investment in Brooklyn’s Future

We are proud to announce $2.5M in grants to 55 organizations through our Invest in Youth initiative in 2021—determined for the first time in partnership with our new council of youth advisors. 

This marks the Foundation’s full transition to a participatory grantmaking approach across all of our unrestricted grant programs. Sharing decision-making power with community members who have lived experiences on the issues we're addressing reflects our belief that those who are closest to the challenges in Brooklyn, are closest to the solutions. 

“This is an exciting milestone for the Foundation as we fully transition to participatory grantmaking with this new round of Invest in Youth funding,” said Foundation President and CEO Jocelynne Rainey. “We are honored to share power with youth leaders, learning from them as we work together to further racial justice in our communities.” 

Our Invest in Youth Advisory Council is made up of sixteen youth advisors with strong ties to Brooklyn, ranging in age from 16-24, the majority of which are alumni of our Brooklyn Youth Activists. Over the past four months, they have worked alongside our Programs staff to inform our grantmaking strategy, review grant applications, conduct site visits, and make funding decisions.  

"Young people understand youth needs in a way that is more personal than someone who does not live it anymore," said Youth Advisor Daniel-José Cyan. "I have done youth grantmaking work with Brooklyn Community Foundation in the past and always admired their work and appreciated how their anti-racist and anti-ageist views were put into action."

Invest in Youth is our largest annual strategic grantmaking program, and aims to increase opportunity and improve outcomes for young people of color in Brooklyn. Each year we provide general operating support grants of $45,000 a year, for a minimum three-year period, to youth-serving organizations that focus on racial justice and are led by members of the communities they serve. 

Our grantmaking is informed by an equity filter that prioritizes organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color—including organizations that that have smaller budgets—as organizations that are not white-led lack access to funding and face systemic barriers across philanthropy. Of the 55 organizations receiving funding:

  • 55% have budgets under $1 million

  • 74% have leadership who are people of color, and 47% of organizations have Black leaders

Grants are made possible through the continuous support of our donors who believe in our mission of addressing systemic racism and advocating for long-term change in our borough. To date, we have awarded $17 million through the initiative which launched in 2015.

Invest in Youth grants are organized across three strategy areas—Youth Leadership, Youth Justice, and Immigrant Youth and Families—and focus on organizations serving the 10 Black and Latinx neighborhoods we have prioritized throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which have experienced the most severe social, economic, and health impacts in our borough: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, East New York, Coney Island, Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, and Sunset Park. In accordance with our commitment to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s call to action to invest in Black communities, 44% of this year’s Invest in Youth funding supports Black communities.

Among the 18 organizations receiving first-year grants are Court Appointed Special Advocates of New York City (CASA-NYC), whose programming includes developing the leadership skills of foster care involved youth by providing training on advocacy and storytelling to position them as advisors and ambassadors of the foster care experience, Urban Youth Collaborative, a coalition advancing school discipline reform through legislation aimed at reducing racial disparities and significantly limiting the use of suspensions, and ImmSchools, an organization that runs an internship program available to undocumented youth who cannot qualify for city programs due to their immigration status. 

View all 2021 Invest in Youth Grantees by Focus Area:


Change starts here, and it starts with you. Make a donation today to invest in a better future for Brooklyn. 

Le Anne Alexander

Program Officer (She/Her/Hers)
We are proud to announce $2.5M in grants to 55 organizations through our Invest in Youth initiative in 2021—determined for the first time in partnership with our new council of youth advisors.