Community-led Social Change Grants

Brooklyn Community Foundation launched the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund in March 2020 to address the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund is deeply rooted in our values of racial equity. Through our racial justice lens, we prioritize support for nonprofits that are led by members of affected communities in order to center the voices of those directly impacted by structural racism. 

In the first phase of the Fund, $3.3m was awarded to support immediate needs that emerged during the pandemic and to help sustain nonprofits in meeting ongoing needs. In addition, capacity building services expanded to include a focus on accessing the Paycheck Protection Program, sharing strategies for fundraising, risk management, sustainability, financial planning systems, forecasting, leadership and management while navigating crisis. 

In preparation for Phase 2, the Foundation conducted Brooklyn Insights 2020, an 8-week community engagement process of 16 listening sessions with 235 community members, co-hosted with community-led organizations.  Insights 2020 focused on the voices of residents, largely from communities of color, who articulated both the needs and barriers present in their communities.

With this RFP we are pleased to announce a new initiative that will address the unjust systems and policies that have deeply harmed communities, especially Black, indigenous and other communities of color, by stifling their ability to thrive prior to and during the pandemic. These grants will focus on systemic inequities and the following strategies that emphasize community power, especially those with origins in resistance movements of Black, indigenous and communities of color:

  • Advocacy: community-led action involving conducting power analyses, raising public awareness, issue advocacy through direct and grassroots lobbying, working to change policies, influencing the allocation of public resources, and transforming institutions.
  • Community Organizing and Power Building: requires the participation and leadership of community members most directly impacted by systems of oppression who work together to take action on specific issues and generate systemic change. This involves but is not limited to community outreach and engagement, community building and mobilization, collective awareness raising and skill building, training and leadership development of community members, and direct-action campaigns.  
  • Community Collaborations through Coalitions: fueled by people-powered coalitions and alliances that bring together community members, groups, organizations, and other stakeholders to build power, develop and execute campaigns, and maintain strategic alliances.


The Community-led Social Change grants will provide multi-year funding of up to $75,000 per year for five years to organizations and coalitions pursuing one or more of the prioritized strategies described above: Advocacy, Community Organizing and Power Building, and Community Collaborations through Coalitions.

The Foundation is providing long-term investment and support to organizations doing transformative work in and for Brooklyn, particularly groups that have been under-resourced by traditional sources of philanthropy. These grants are designed to fund specific strategies that have impact across a range of issues caused by systemic inequities, largely rooted in anti-Black racism, that disproportionately harm one or more of the following groups: Black, indigenous, and people of color; immigrants; low-wage and nontraditional workers; parents; people who are formerly or currently incarcerated; and people who are LGBTQIAGNC+; people who are unhoused and housing insecure; older adults; women; and youth.

Grant awards will prioritize groups that center the power and leadership of people from the following neighborhoods: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Coney Island, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Flatbush, and Sunset Park.


In reviewing proposals, we will give preference to organizations that:

  • Use a racial justice lens in their work: Organizations consider inequities based on race and their impact in designing programs, looking for solutions and defining success.
  • Acknowledge intersecting oppressions: Organizations understand how multiple oppressions impact one another and the lives of the people with whom they work.
  • Work on the frontlines of issues: Organizations that are grassroots and doing work at the community level.
  • Have budgets under $2,000,000 (in one of the past two fiscal years) that meet the funding criteria.


To be eligible to apply, an organization must:

  • Be incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization or be working under the auspices of an authorized fiscal sponsor.
  • Have a minimum annual budget of $250,000 or submit an application to work in partnership with an organization that does. Grant awards will not exceed 20% of the applying organization’s annual budget.
  • Have an office or a regular physical presence in Brooklyn; and serve the people of Brooklyn

Please note that this grant will not fund the following:

  • Individuals
  • Capital campaigns
  • Schools (public, private, or charter)
  • Organizations with an operating budget under $250,000

Learn more on our Informational Webinar recording: Watch here (Access Passcode: U3r*%GX2)


  1. Thursday, April 1, 2021: Community-led Social Change Grant Guidelines Released
  2. Friday, May 7, 2021 at 5:00PM: Deadline for organizations to submit an online Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
  3. Friday, May 21, 2021: Notifications sent to organizations invited to submit a full proposal
  4. Friday, June 4, 2021 at 5:00PM: Deadline for invited organizations to submit an online full proposal
  5. Monday, June 14 – Friday, June 18, 2021: Virtual site visits with selected organizations
  6. Wednesday, June 30, 2021: Award decisions announced 


The online LOI requests information on:

  • Organizational profile
  • Mission, history, programs/activities, accomplishments
  • Approach to work with priority population
  • Approach to racial justice work 

Applications are now closed. The application window for LOIs closed at 5PM on Friday, May 7, 2021. Late submissions will not be considered.