Invest in Youth Grant Program

Letters of Inquiry for the 2021-2022 Invest in Youth Grant Program are due Friday, July 9th at 5PM

Applications are now closed; late submissions will not be considered.


Brooklyn Community Foundation believes that empowering Brooklyn’s next generation is key to achieving greater equity of opportunity and outcomes in communities that have been under-resourced and disproportionately harmed by systemic inequities. Our Invest in Youth initiative supports Brooklyn-serving organizations working to ensure that young people in our borough have the opportunity and agency to achieve social and economic success for themselves and communities. 

Young people have always been at the forefront of social change and movements. 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. 

Invest in Youth is our cornerstone initiative aimed at tackling significant structural barriers to opportunities and success for 16- to 24-year-olds, particularly young people of color who live at the intersections of multiple oppressions related to race, age, economic status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status and country of origin, and disability.

Among other considerations, we fund organizations in the following three areas of focus:

  • Youth Development & Leadership: We support community-based organizations that offer transformational programming to youth. These programs position youth as long-term leaders in their communities and give them the tools to challenge institutional barriers that limit opportunities and potential.
     
  • Youth Justice: We support both advocacy and direct-service organizations that address the far-reaching effects of young people’s encounters with the criminal legal system. We focus on investing in school discipline reforms, alternatives to arrest, and educational and workforce programs for court-involved youth.
     
  • Immigrant Youth: We support organizations that help immigrant youth in Brooklyn build their capacity to be bold leaders to advocate for themselves and organize for change in their communities. We focus on investing in political education and coalition building, legal and language services, and institutional and legislative change.

Grant Awards

The Invest in Youth Initiative provides multi-year, general operating support of up to $45,000 per year for up to three years to groups working with youth in Brooklyn that are aligned with our values and eligibility criteria.

All non-Brooklyn-based organizations must apply for program support for their relevant Brooklyn-based work.  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.


Priority Considerations

The Foundation seeks to fund a range of organizations that expand access and opportunity with and for Brooklyn youth− groups of different sizes, approaches (e.g., direct service, community organizing, policy/advocacy), histories and levels of visibility, and serving different parts of the borough.

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.
     
  • We will also consider organizations with budgets of over $2,000,000 (in the last fiscal year) if your work includes efforts that push forward policy and systems level change that significantly shifts one or more elements of a system (e.g., criminal justice, education, immigration, etc.). This may include but is not limited to:
    • Legislative and institutional advocacy to address unjust policies that disproportionately impact young people from historically/currently disenfranchised and under-resourced communities. This may look like advocating for new bills at the state level and/or change to existing policies within city agencies.
    • Base building and coalition building that increases power through organizing campaigns and building a broad and diverse base of stakeholders and partners. Your organization is part of a coalition or alliance with strategic objectives to achieve short-term and long-term goals.

Eligibility

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 $100,000 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
  • Address one or more of the Invest In Youth initiative’s three areas of focus in their mission and primary activities.

Please note that we do not fund the following:

  • Individuals
  • Capital campaigns
  • Schools (public, private, or charter)
  • Organizations with an operating budget under $100,000.

Process and Timeline

  • Friday, May 28th: Invest in Youth Grant Guidelines Released
  • Thursday, June 10th, 3-4PM: Informational Webinar & Application Clinic.
  • Friday, July 9th at 5PM: Deadline for organizations to submit LOI
  • Monday, July 26th: Notifications sent to organizations invited to submit a full proposal
  • August 20th at 5PM: Deadline for invited organizations to submit an online full proposal
  • Mid-September to late October: Site visits with selected organizations
  • Early November: Award decisions announced

How to Apply

Online applications are due at 5PM on Friday, July 9, 2021. Late submissions will not be considered.

The online LOI requests information on:

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

If you have any questions about these guidelines or the online application, please reach out to us at grants@bcfny.org.


Frequently Asked Questions


Stream our Application Clinic webinar:

If our organization is not based in Brooklyn, can I apply?

Although priority will be given to organizations based in Brooklyn, we will also consider organizations based elsewhere that serve Brooklyn residents. To be eligible, your organization must have either a physical office or a regular physical presence in Brooklyn. This qualification will be reviewed by our staff on a case by case basis.

What makes our organization eligible for your grant?

Invest in Youth guidelines detail the eligibility requirements for organizations. Please be sure to read the guidelines carefully to make sure you are eligible to apply.

Our organization does not have a 501(c)3. Can we apply?

Yes, but your organization will have to apply under the auspices of an authorized fiscal agent serving as your fiscal sponsor. A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that extends its nonprofit status to a group project that does not have its own tax-exempt status. Grants are made to the fiscal sponsor, who in turn provides the grant funds to the group. The group that is sponsored usually pays a fee to the sponsor for its services.

My organization works in more than one of your focus areas. Can I submit multiple funding requests?

No, please submit only one LOI on behalf of your organization. We recognize that many organizations do work across our focus areas. Your request should highlight all of the ways your organization meets our criteria.

We work in all of your focus areas but we serve all the boroughs of NYC. What type of funding should we apply for?

If only a portion of your organization’s work is focused on serving Brooklyn, you should apply for project-based support, not general operating support.

We would like to apply for a grant in partnership with another nonprofit. Would that disqualify the partner organization from applying separately?

We encourage partnerships. If you are applying in partnership with another organization, one organizations should serve as the lead applicant for the LOI.  This would not disqualify the partner organization from applying separately, as long as they are not serving as a lead applicant both LOIs.

Our organization has not done youth work before. Would this deter us from receiving funding?

We will prioritize community-based organizations that have a history or a demonstrated track record of working with young people. We encourage applications from organizations doing advocacy, organizing, and policy work with/and on behalf of young people. If you are applying for a new youth program, be sure to address why your organization is best positioned/experienced do this work.

How does the Foundation define racial justice?

Brooklyn Community Foundation defines “racial justice” as the systemic distribution of power, opportunities and access for people of all races resulting in equitable outcomes for all. Racial justice means that all people are equally seen, valued, and respected.

We use a Racial Justice Lens to ensure that we consider race as we analyze problems, look for solutions, and define success in our grantmaking, governance, and advocacy.

What are examples of advocacy work that you will support?

Some examples of advocacy work that we will consider funding include:

  • Public education campaigns around a particular policy issue
  • Organizing campaigns seeking to maximize legislative impact
  • Media and communications campaign around a particular policy issue
  • Organizing constituents to advocate for the passage of a bill or a law
  • Organizing constituents to increase participation in and ensure enforcement of federal, state, and local benefits, services, and rights available to people in Brooklyn.