Insights to Impact

The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation


Looking Back and Moving Forward: One Year of the Wellness and Recovery Fund

As we reach the one-year anniversary of the launch of our $2.2 million Wellness and Recovery Fund, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate the impact of the ten organizations supported through the Fund.  

Last year, we deployed $800,000 to help ensure that those who navigate the difficult road of substance misuse and addiction in our communities do so with reliable support that honors their agency and dignity.  

The Wellness and Recovery Fund, which was created through a partnership with the Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, supports organizations dedicated to dignity-centered direct services; expansion and innovation of harm reduction programs and services; and advancing systemic changes that center the leadership of people living with substance misuse disorder and addiction. 

The Fund’s inaugural year was a fruitful and exciting time for our grantee partners, and we’re excited to share highlights from each of their work: 

  • After Hours Project has bolstered their Narcan administration training program by educating bartenders and expanding their online training courses. 

  • Ali Forney Center has expanded their counseling services to include an on-site mental health counselor at each of their housing units and will be sharing a drop-in space with Gay Men’s Health Crisis in Midtown Manhattan, growing their overall reach and accessibility.  

  • Brooklyn Community Housing and Services has been working on three new development projects to expand their overall reach: adding 230 new units in East New York, 300 units in East Flatbush, and 300 new units in Brownsville. 

  • Community Counseling and Meditation is in the process of opening two new supportive housing developments and a new clinic in downtown Brooklyn, and has hired a harm reduction and treatment-focused wellness coordinator and added substance abuse counselors in all of their buildings.  

  • Global Trauma Research has added designated substance abuse disorder therapy to their offerings and now serves undocumented and uninsured patients, as well as new mothers and new migrants. They also now offer alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture, EFT tapping, and other trauma-informed practices. 

  • Housing Plus has broadened their SHERO program, which serves women who are reentering the community after incarceration, by adding supportive housing, on-site psychiatric nurse practitioner, and direct services and referrals for addiction support.

  • Lantern Community Services has become a certified overdose prevention site, and is providing fentanyl test strips and other harm reduction tools. Their new Tenant Advisory Board will engage tenants both in recovery and using drugs to give input on creating harm reduction policies and procedures.  

  • Stay’n Out, NY Therapeutic Communities’ new mobile van outreach program has enabled the organization to expand services and treatment to new populations. 

  • The Family Center Inc. has added a childcare room for women and caregivers who need access to treatment and services, as well as increased medical provider staff, and expanded their services to serve teens and young adults. 

  • VOCAL-NY opened their new building this spring, where they offer drop-in services, testing, on-site Hepatitis C treatment, and other health services. They are also deepening their member-led advocacy work, which contributed to the historic passing of seven bills to improve drug policies across New York State in 2021.  

Wellness and Recovery Fund Action Grants 

This winter, with the support of a generous anonymous donor, the Wellness and Recovery Fund additionally launched Action Grants to provide organizations up to $5,000 each for efforts to destigmatize substance abuse/misuse, provide addiction and harm reduction services, organizing and advocacy actions, and training for and the distribution of harm reduction supplies. The Action Grants have deployed $20,000 so far. Organizations received funding for the following initiatives: 

  • Brooklyn Community Pride Center: To support programming that empowers LGBTQIA+ youth to make positive choices around substance use via counseling, support groups, and  participating in the Lighthouse Learning Collective, a group which engages LGBTQIA+ service providers and harm reduction organizations.  

  • JMAC for Families: To support harm reduction efforts and advocacy for birthing people who use substances, including working on the Informed Consent Bill (4285A), which would require NY hospitals to obtain consent from pregnant and birthing patients before drug testing them and their babies.  

  • The Hannah Legacy: To support holistic harm reduction programming including overdose education, counseling, referrals to treatment for infectious diseases and substance use disorders, distribution of opioid overdose reversal medications, and more.  

  • Brooklyn Emerge Inc: To support harm reduction programming and outreach efforts to young people at risk for drug and substance use. 

The Bigger Picture: Substance Misuse in New York City  

The establishment of our Wellness and Recovery Fund comes at a crucial time for the health, vitality, and safety of our fellow New Yorkers. In 2021, New York City saw a total of 2,668 fatal overdoses, putting drug-related deaths at an all-time high in the city. While fentanyl was detected in 80% of all overdose deaths in the city, a new drug called xylazine (which is often mixed with fentanyl) was found in 429 of those overdoses.  

Overdose Prevention Centers 

Our grantmaking is also supplementing other landmark efforts throughout the city. In late 2023, New York became the first city in the United States to allow for overdose prevention centers, where people can safely use drugs under staff supervision. As of late 2022, two different locations have saved over 600 lives.  

Recreational Marijuana Legalization 

The legalization of recreational marijuana by New York State in 2021 has allowed for the city’s first legal dispensary, run by Housing Works, a BIPOC-led social-service agency that serves people with HIV and AIDS, as well as those who are homeless and formerly incarcerated.  

Long Term Support  

Moving forward, New York Attorney General Letitia James is devoting more than $1.6 billion in opioid settlement money to treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts in New York communities. The funds were seized from companies involved in manufacturing, distributing, and selling opioids. Over the next five years, the funds will be allocated to harm reduction, treatment within the city’s public hospital system, and support for people who use drugs, along with their families.  

We look forward to seeing our partner organizations’ growth and development as they continue this crucial work to advance advocacy and harm reduction services across our city.  

Sabine Frid-Bernards

Program Officer (She/Her/Hers)