Five Nonprofits Win Brooklyn Community Foundation’s $100,000 Spark Prize for Outstanding Commitment to Racial Justice
We are pleased to announce the recipients of our 2022 Spark Prize, the only honor celebrating nonprofits advancing racial justice in the borough. The five winning organizations will receive their $100,000 ‘no strings attached’ awards at our Spark Breakfast on March 8, 2022 from 8-10am at the Brooklyn Museum. Tickets are on sale now.
The 2022 Spark Prize winners are:
- Arab American Association of New York
- Black Women's Blueprint
- Brooklyn Movement Center
- Groundswell Community Mural Project
- Weeksville Heritage Center
“Brooklyn Community Foundation is pleased to recognize these five outstanding Brooklyn nonprofits, which have changed our borough for the better, thanks to their visionary work and commitment to racial justice. These nonprofits are among the best that Brooklyn has to offer and we are so grateful for all that they’ve done, and what more they will achieve! I also want to extend our deepest gratitude to the members of the Spark Prize Committee for volunteering their time and talents to the process of identifying this year’s exemplary winners and finalists.”
- Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO, Dr. Jocelynne Rainey
We launched the Spark Prize in 2016 to recognize pioneering nonprofits committed to racial and social justice with deep roots in the borough. Brooklyn is home to hundreds of nonprofits led by and serving communities of color that are often overlooked by the City’s philanthropic sector and wealthy donors. With the Spark Prize, we aim to spotlight outstanding organizations, while emphasizing the need to provide general operating support that gives nonprofits the flexibility and resources they need to serve their communities and grow.
Each year, we convene a committee of leaders from Brooklyn’s civic, business, and philanthropic sectors to select five winning organizations from a highly competitive applicant pool of local nonprofits. The committee awards $600,000 in total: five $100,000 general operating support grants to the winners, and twenty $5,000 matches for finalists as part of our #BrooklynGives on Giving Tuesday campaign.
The Spark Prize and the Spark Breakfast are sponsored by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Santander Bank, and National Grid.
“We congratulate all the Spark Prize winners on their extraordinary efforts to make a difference in the lives of Brooklyn community members. The firm is proud to partner with the Brooklyn Community Foundation and to honor the contributions of these exceptional organizations,” said David Leinwand, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
“Santander is honored to join Brooklyn Community Foundation in congratulating this year’s Spark Prize winners. We are inspired by the incredible impact these organizations have had on Brooklyn’s communities and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the 2022 Spark Breakfast,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility.
"Congratulations to the Spark Prize recipients for their hard work day in and day out in bringing together programs and resources that enhance our communities,” said Renee McClure, Director of NYC Customer and Community Engagement. “We’re proud of our partnership with the Brooklyn Community Foundation whose dedication is instrumental in creating a better place for all in this great borough of Brooklyn.”
About the 2022 Spark Prize Recipients
Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) was founded in 2001 by Arab immigrant and Arab American leaders in Bay Ridge to advocate for the community in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Today, AAANY serves Brooklyn’s Arab immigrant, refugee, and Muslim communities, helping over 6,000 beneficiaries annually through its women’s empowerment and adult literacy programs, immigration legal assistance, mental health and domestic violence support services, and youth programming. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AAANY has transitioned to virtual programming and has transformed its office into a direct relief hub, distributing 22,000+ food boxes and $450,000 in direct cash for clients in crisis, creating a laptop lending program, and working with community partners to provide relief to domestic violence survivors.
Black Women's Blueprint was founded in Brooklyn in 2008, and is a lifeline for survivors of gender-based violence, and provides birth education and maternal health support. The organization’s Sexual Abuse to Maternal Mortality Pipeline report and institute has pioneered a campaign to desilo these movements and affirm the link between trauma healing and maternal health. Each year, it engages doulas, midwives, birth-workers, and sexual assault advocates to reach 5,000 survivors at 50 different locations through its Sistas Van mobile health unit, and trains 800 clinicians and medical personnel. In addition, it is building a Reconciliation Center in Upstate New York to offer Brooklyn women space to heal and give birth safely.
Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC) is a Black-led, membership-based organization of primarily low-to-moderate income Central Brooklyn residents founded in 2011. BMC builds power and self-determination in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights’ Black communities by nurturing local leadership, waging campaigns, and winning concrete improvements in people’s lives. Through intersectional organizing, BMC addresses a range of issues that define a whole community, including police accountability and community safety, food sovereignty, environmental justice, anti-gentrification media production, electoral justice, and tenant organizing.
Groundswell Community Mural Project was founded in 1996 to bring together artists, youth, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change. Its projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue. Each year, Groundswell engages over 450 youth, led by trained teaching artists, and in partnership with community partner organizations and city agencies, in the presentation of afterschool, summer, school-based, and community commissioned programs. In addition, Groundswell hosts free, often youth-led, events and programs for the general public.
Weeksville Heritage Center upholds the legacy of one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America, using historic preservation, education, the arts, and a social justice lens to keep this unique chapter of American history relevant and resonant for contemporary audiences, particularly Black residents in Central Brooklyn. The Weeksville Heritage Center is the steward of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses, and serves as an education space, community hub, and presenter of free or low-cost recreational and artistic programming—all with a nexus to the Weeksville legacy of self-determination. Having emerged from a crippling financial crisis in 2019, Weeksville reestablished a record of fiscal accountability under a new strategic plan, and was included in New York City’s esteemed Cultural Institutions Group in 2020.
About the Spark Prize
The Spark Prize is named for Brooklyn Community Foundation’s mission to spark lasting social change in Brooklyn. The 2021-22 Spark Prize cycle launched in May 2021 with an open call to Brooklyn nonprofits to submit a 1,000-word essay demonstrating their deep history in Brooklyn and continued service to the borough; commitment to equity and racial justice for all Brooklynites; strong organizational values; and vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond. To be eligible, organizations had to have annual operating budgets over $250,000 and be in operation for at least five years. Applications were reviewed by the Spark Prize Committee, who narrowed submissions to 20 finalists, and then chose the five winners following in-person interviews.
The 2021-22 Spark Prize Finalists are Arab-American Family Support Center, Brooklyn College Community Partnership, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Brownsville Community Culinary Center, Center for Community Alternatives, Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice and Healing, Extreme Kids and Crew, Girl Be Heard, Good Call NYC Co., Grow Brooklyn, Mixteca Org, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn CDC, Inc. (NHS Brooklyn), New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives, The Foundation for the Advancement and Rehabilitation of the Marginalized (The F.A.R.M).
The Spark Prize is a signature program of the Foundation’s Brooklyn Accelerator, a hub for building capacity and resources in Brooklyn’s nonprofit community. Through the Brooklyn Accelerator, the Foundation also offers free workshops for nonprofits, racial justice training, Board matching and governance training, and an Incubator that hosts start-up nonprofit enterprises. Reaching a diverse cross-section of Brooklyn nonprofits, the Prize will also strengthen the Foundation’s services to its donors who depend on the Foundation’s expertise and knowledge of the borough’s nonprofits to help guide their local giving and philanthropy.