In March 2019, Brooklyn Community Foundation officially announced the launch of the Brooklyn Elders Fund, a permanent fund seeded by $10 million to promote the care and welfare of older adults in Brooklyn.
The first of its kind to tackle issues affecting aging Brooklynites, the fund brings together older adults, policymakers, and community-based nonprofits to support both proven strategies and innovative approaches to providing the care and support that our aging population needs.
“After building the Brooklyn neighborhoods the world has grown to love, Brooklyn’s elders are too often living in poverty, struggling to find decent housing they can afford, and fighting for basic services that would allow them to live with dignity. It is the definition of a crisis. We partnered with donors to establish the Brooklyn Elders Fund to bring Brooklynites together to tackle this challenge head on. With new ideas and significant new resources, we will do our best to honor and transform the lives of older adults in our neighborhoods for generations to come.”
- Cecilia Clarke, President and CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation
With the largest population of older adults of any county in New York state, 13.5 percent of Brooklyn’s population is older adults, and more than one in five live below the poverty line. With the average stay in New York City nursing homes costing close to $150,000 per year, older adults are struggling to find housing and care while many nursing homes are forced to close, amplifying the near crisis in finding affordable housing.
The Brooklyn Elders Fund is seeded with $10 million from two field of interest funds—CABS Community Foundation and the Fund for the Health & Integrity of Seniors—held permanently at Brooklyn Community Foundation. The source of the funds are the result of two closed nursing homes, assets from which will now remain in and continue to serve older adults in Brooklyn.
“CABS has a long history of providing home care and senior living services and partnering with other community organizations to provide care to our seniors. It was unfortunate that our senior living center in Brooklyn had to close, but through this partnership with Brooklyn Community Foundation, we can ensure the resources will support solutions to the challenges our seniors face daily, from housing and healthcare to transportation and isolation.”
- Bill Pernisek, Fund Advisor, CABS Community Foundation at Brooklyn Community Foundation, and President, CABS Home Attendants Service
To determine the most effective strategy for the Brooklyn Elders Fund, in early 2019 we kicked off a series of listening sessions inspired by our Brooklyn Insights process. The "Elders' Insights" sessions bring together the diverse voices of older adults across the borough to shape the priorities of the new fund. We spoke with over 150 older adults across 15 listening sessions, followed by two roundtables with experts from the elder care sector.
The data and stories collected will allow the fund to target the most salient and critical issues affecting Brooklyn’s diverse communities of older adults. Our Elders' Insights report details the findings of the project.
We fund organizations in the following three areas of focus:
- Aging in Place: We support organizations that work to keep older Brooklynites in their homes, recognizing them as a key part of the social fabric of their local communities. These programs position older adults as long-term leaders in their communities and give them the tools to challenge institutional barriers that limit opportunities and potential. We focus on investments in neighborhoods where quality programs are rare or non-existent.
- Promoting Elders’ Rights: We support both policy/advocacy and direct-service organizations that address the gaps that exist in the legal and healthcare coverage of older adults, including but not limited to promoting services not currently covered under public health care plans. These programs strive to improve the quality of life by transforming systems to meet the needs of all older adults and their caregivers.
- Access to Benefits and Entitlements: We support organizations that work to alleviate systemic barriers to older adults connecting to benefits and entitlements such as health care services and housing protections in order to lead healthy and happy lives.
Grants are made in partnership with our Brooklyn Elders Fund Advisory Council (BEFAC), group of 11 older adults from across Brooklyn who worked with us to evaluate grant proposals, conduct site visits, and ultimately recommend which organizations would receive funding.
In July 2021, we announced new grants that will promote the rights of older adults in Brooklyn to age in place and access benefits, while advocating for critical changes to elder care systems:
- The Brownsville Partnership
- Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
- UHAB (Urban Homesteading Assistance, Inc.)
- United Chinese Association of Brooklyn
- Council of Peoples Organization
- Flatbush Development Corporation
- GRIOT Circle
- Grow Brooklyn
- The Guardianship Project
- Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
- The Osborne Association
- Release Aging People in Prison Campaign
- Spanish Speaking Elderly Council – RAICES
In February 2019, we issued a round of preliminary Brooklyn Elders Fund grants totalling $340,000 to support seven organizations that reflect the breadth and diversity of the fund’s mission:
- CABS Home Attendants Services
- Ellery Court Senior Housing Development Fund Corporation
- Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project
- Riseboro Community Partnership
- Southside United HDFC–Los Sures
- St. Nick’s Alliance
- University Settlement Society of New York