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Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo at the 2022 Brooklyn Changemakers Ball

Brooklyn Changemakers Ball Showcases the Power of Community-led Change

I know I speak for everyone at Brooklyn Community Foundation when I say that we are overwhelmed by all of the support we received at the inaugural Brooklyn Changemakers Ball. It was truly a celebration of the power of community-led change. And we hope that it was also a call to action. 

As our honoree and Chair Emeritus Alan Fishman reminded us in the heartfelt remarks he shared, “The reason I helped found the Brooklyn Community Foundation some years ago was to spark change, to act for change, to advocate for change, and to create a more just and equitable Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Community Foundation exists today because of Alan's vision for a unique type of philanthropy that could mobilize like-minded donors who love Brooklyn as much as he does. Words cannot capture how much effort has gone into building this organization since our founding in 2009 — but I can tell you that your support and partnership has translated into over $75 million for nonprofits, including $25 million since 2020.

The Work Isn’t Done

Over the last three years, we have witnessed a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Still, some of the biggest challenges are yet to come, which will require increased support for the very nonprofits that have been the lifelines and sustainers of our communities thus far. 

To think more deeply about the work that’s still ahead, we asked two of the most effective changemakers in our country to join us at the Brooklyn Changemakers Ball: Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and National Domestic Workers Alliance President Ai-jen Poo.

No matter your political persuasion, we all have to remember that elections are just around the corner — and what happens at the ballot box this cycle will have untold impacts on our communities. 

But we can’t stop there: we also have to keep a pulse of the actual work that happens in our communities every single day of the year. And as Alicia reminded us, patience and readiness go hand in hand: “Change sometimes happens really fast, but sometimes it happens really slow…and either way, you have to create the conditions for change to happen.”

I am so grateful to them for reminding us about the worrisome trends afoot that often don’t make the headlines. For instance, they expressed concerns about the rise in white nationalism, the deterioration of workers rights and labor unions, and very real concerns that reproductive rights fall victim to political wrangling at the state level. 

They also spoke passionately about the importance of the climate justice movement, especially as we’re seeing climate-change induced catastrophes across Florida and Puerto Rico, not to mention wildfires ravaging California and persistent and deadly flooding events in our own neighborhoods. 

Moreover, affordable and accessible childcare continues to elude the vast majority of Americans. Meanwhile, a domestic workers Bill of Rights has helped raise awareness about the importance of worker protection, though there’s still so much more that needs to be done. And of course, older people and people living with disabilities need our support as inflation and economic headwinds make it increasingly harder just to get by.

“We know some of the most powerful movements to change the world — like the Black Lives Matter movement — are successful when leaders are investing in collaboration,” says Ai-jen. “Year in and year out, we have to focus on coalition building, creating an ecosystem of organizations that are connected, and helping communities realize their potential through grassroots organizing.”

“After all, hashtags don’t start movements—people do,” said Alicia.

Doubling Down

As we look ahead, one of our goals is to raise $1 million by the end of this year to fund our grantmaking for community-led change⁠. And thanks to the support from so many selfless and generous donors, we're over halfway there!

This support will help us spearhead a movement that shifts how funding decisions are made and puts power in the hands of the community. We’ll be able to continue the work of engaging with and listening to local leaders. And we’ll fund missions and changemakers who know best how to use funds to fuel community-led change.

So many of you have already donated generously to our work, including our Champion Sponsors Judy and Alan Fishman, Meera and Harsha Marti, Jolie Curtsinger Schwartz and Gabe Schwartz, and Santander Bank; our incredible host committee and event sponsors; our featured guests Hari Kondabolu, Alicia Garza, and Ai-jen Poo; and all of the Brooklyn Changemakers who came together for an amazing evening.

We hope that you’re excited as we are about the promise of community-led change; and we hope that you spread the work about the important work that’s underway — and how the Brooklyn Community Foundation is doubling down on its commitment to create a more just and equitable society.

Give today 

CEO Column

Dr. Jocelynne Rainey

President & CEO (She/Her/Hers)
To think more deeply about the work that’s still ahead, we asked two of the most effective changemakers in our country to join us at the Brooklyn Changemakers Ball: Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and National Domestic Workers Alliance President Ai-jen Poo.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Amar