Phase 2: Community-led Solutions for Social Change


Reyna Martinez and her daughter Stephanie, clients and volunteers at Mixteca Organization, a Brooklyn Insights 2020 Community Partner

The COVID-19 pandemic created a health crisis with far reaching impact; however, for communities that have been systematically marginalized, composed mainly of Black, Latinx, first- and second-generation immigrants, and low-income residents already facing multi-layered economic and social crises, it has greatly exacerbated existing inequities.

Anticipating these impacts, Brooklyn Community Foundation created the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund in March 2020 with an explicit commitment to racial justice and centering communities of color. The Fund has since become the largest community-supported emergency response in the Foundation’s history. 

In the first phase of the Fund, we distributed $3.3 million through 420 grants to 246 organizations across our borough, and expanded our capacity building offerings to respond to a range of emerging needs of community organizations. Phase 2 represents an additional $3 million in funding for local nonprofits, bringing our total grantmaking commitment from the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund to nearly $6.5 million. 

In Fall 2020, we began this second phase with Brooklyn Insights 2020, an eight-week community engagement process with residents in the hardest hit communities. 


Guided by the belief that those who are closest to the challenges are closest to the solutions, this process has allowed us to learn from, and partner with, the communities most impacted by the pandemic. Through Brooklyn Insights 2020, we aimed to identify recommendations for community-led solutions to achieve social change, as well as responsive relief for urgent ongoing needs. 

Across 16 listening sessions with 235 residents, Brooklyn Insights 2020 participants repeatedly described systems and policies that have deeply harmed Black and brown youth and their families, stifling their ability to thrive prior to and during the pandemic. Within each session, participants were able to identify specific barriers to equity, and through the sharing of personal stories and experiences, also offered solutions for dealing with the immediate and long-term issues that stem from these injustices. 

In addition, this report highlights the resiliency of local advocates and community organizations as unacknowledged “first responders.” Through their diligence, commitment, passion, and compassion, communities hardest hit with issues like food scarcity, income loss, illness, and inability to access services have been able to receive critical relief.  

With crisis comes the opportunity for communities to come together to examine and reflect on the failures of government, and offer up ideas and solutions for moving forward


Click through the chapter headers to explore our report: