Brooklyn Community Foundation Announces $50M Grantmaking Milestone at Annual Spark Breakfast, While Honoring Winners of $100,000 Spark Prize and ALLINBKLYN

Brooklyn Community Foundation—established 10 years ago as the first and only foundation dedicated to New York City’s largest borough—announced that it has surpassed $50 million in total grantmaking as it awarded five Brooklyn social justice organizations with its $100,000 Spark Prize at its annual Spark Breakfast this morning. More than 300 guests attended the event held at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Lepercq Space.

Photos from the Spark Breakfast are available here.

The Foundation’s VP of Programs and Partnerships Marcella Tillett opened the program with the announcement: “As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are well on our way to proving how powerful a community foundation for Brooklyn can be. I am so proud to announce that—thanks to partners like you—we have surpassed $50 million in grantmaking to hundreds of vital community-based organizations!”

The event marked the 4th year of the Foundation’s Spark Prize, which has awarded $2.4 million to 20 winners and 60 finalists since 2016. This year’s Spark Prize winners are:

  • Brownsville Community Justice Center
  • Children of Promise, NYC
  • The Noel Pointer Foundation
  • The North Brooklyn Coalition
  • Sadie Nash Leadership Project

The Spark Breakfast also honored Eliza Winans Rossman, the founder of ALLINBKLYN, a women’s giving circle administered by Brooklyn Community Foundation that exclusively supports nonprofits strengthening the borough. Since 2014, ALLINBKLYN’s 60 members have made 85 grants to 45 Brooklyn nonprofits, totaling $1.3 million, and this year the group is on track to give out an additional $300,000.

“Eliza epitomizes the power of community. We are so much more powerful when we work together as a community to spark change, and that is why we are so proud to honor her today,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO, in her remarks to honoree Eliza Winans Rossman.

“I started ALLINBKLYN six years ago because I knew that my charitable life was narrow,” said Rossman, in accepting the honor. “I was giving in one Brooklyn but wasn’t venturing into the larger Brooklyn that I somehow felt I lacked access to, never mind that it certainly didn’t have access to me. I very quickly realized I wasn’t alone in wanting to engage in all of Brooklyn….As a community organizer, mobilizing this wonderful group of women has been deeply fulfilling…Thank for this incredible honor for the work that I truly love.”

Brooklyn Community Foundation created the Spark Prize in 2016 to increase recognition and resources for the borough’s nonprofit sector. While Brooklyn is home to over 2,000 nonprofits, less than 5 percent of New York City’s philanthropic giving goes to organizations based in the borough. The Spark Prize is the first of its kind to spotlight community-based organizations in Brooklyn that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to advancing racial and social justice.

The Spark Prize winners are selected from a highly competitive applicant pool of over 125 local nonprofits by a committee of Brooklyn civic, business, and philanthropic leaders. The Spark Prize Committee awards $600,000 annually: $100,000 “no strings attached” grants to the five winners, and a $5,000 match for 20 finalists as part of the Foundation’s #BrooklynGives on Giving Tuesday campaign. Members of this year’s Spark Prize Committee include Jackie Cuscuna of Ample Hills, healthcare leader Dr. Torian Easterling, restaurateur Andrew Tarlow, financial advisor Lola C. West, and cultural champion Stephanie Ingrassia.

The Spark Prize is sponsored by Sugar in the Raw, National Grid, Santander Bank N.A., Cleary Gottlieb, Kirkland Ellis, and Sitex Group.

“Congratulations to the Spark Prize recipients, we applaud all the great work that they do to enhance our Brooklyn neighborhoods,” said Renee McClure, Manager, National Grid Community & Customer Management. “National Grid is pleased to partner with Brooklyn Community Foundation to help recognize these outstanding organizations for the critical work they do.”

“Santander Bank is excited to continue our support of the annual Spark Breakfast,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at Santander Bank. “Alongside Brooklyn Community Foundation, we believe in supporting organizations that serve and impact vibrant communities, like Brooklyn, where we live and work.”

“We join Brooklyn Community Foundation in congratulating all the Spark Prize winners and are proud to support your continued commitment to serving the Brooklyn community,” said David Leinwand, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.


Quotes from the 2020 Spark Prize Winners

Deron Johnston, Project Director, Brownsville Community Justice Center: “For our staff, the abyss of poverty and managing its symptoms and trauma produces anxiety, sleepless nights, frustration, fear, tears, arguments, pain, but with support from Brooklyn Community Foundation, we can no longer say this is a thankless job. So in return, thank you for helping BCJC conclude 2020’s Black History Month in such a memorable fashion.”

Sharon Content, Founder and President, Children of Promise, NYC: “Thank you Brooklyn Community Fund for allowing Children of Promise to have the funds and utilize them in the way we see necessary.”

Chinita Pointer, Founder and CEO, The Noel Pointer Foundation: “If Noel could come back and see what we’ve done in the past 25 years, he would be grinning from ear to ear. Thank you so much for this Spark award and for being a part of this journey with us. We can’t wait to see what’s beyond the bend.”

Patricia Ross, Executive Director, North Brooklyn Coalition: “It is exhilarating and humbling to be in the company of so much good work and to be recognized alongside the amazing, impactful equitable work of the other awardees. The Spark Prize will allow us to continue supporting survivors while helping them cultivate leadership skills to ensure their voices are heard and amplified. For this we are extremely grateful.”

Naomi Jones, Sadie Nash Leadership Project alumna: “I am very honored to be here to accept this award on behalf of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project. This organization played a huge role in the development of my character and the security of my future. I’m hopeful that with the Spark Prize more young women, especially young black women, will have access to the Sadie Nash leadership Project.”

About the 2020 Spark Prize Winners

Founded in 2011, The Brownsville Community Justice Center (Justice Center) is a multi-faceted initiative that seeks to re-engineer how the justice system works in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The Justice Center addresses systemic inequities by helping young people disengage from the justice system and discover routes to economic security, so they can, in turn, reinvest in their community. Annually, the Justice Center engages over 500 youth, nearly 2,000 residents, and dozens of local businesses in job training and entrepreneurship programs, community events and revitalization projects, community service activities, and court-mandated diversion programs.

Founded in 2007, Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC) empowers children of incarcerated parents to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system. CPNYC offers a broad array of services in a safe supportive space where young people, ages 6-18, can share similar experiences. CPNYC co-locates a licensed mental health clinic and a comprehensive array of youth services in the same program site. CPNYC annually serves 350 children, and their families, through after school, summer day camp, mentoring, mental health and family engagement services.

Founded in 1995 to honor the legacy of violinist Noel Pointer, The Noel Pointer Foundation (NPF) enriches the lives of children of color in under-served communities by connecting them with music education and performance opportunities. Through a combination of in-school programming in partnership with 36 public schools, and onsite after school, Saturdays, and Summer Strings Programming at its Bedford Stuyvesant headquarters, NPF provides year-round beginner through pre-professional instruction in violin, viola, cello, double bass, classical guitar, and piano to over 2,000 young people each year.

Founded in 1998, the North Brooklyn Coalition (the Coalition) addresses systemic racism, institutional injustice, and cultural barriers facing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by creating a community-based support network. The Coalition provides free services including case management, therapy, and support groups, and engages communities through outreach, education and workshops. Over the last three years, the number of survivors the Coalition reached has increased by nearly 70%, and in 2019, it launched a Legal Program and a Rape Crisis Advocate Program, to ensure survivors receive appropriate, trauma-informed and holistic legal representation.

Founded in 2001, Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP) equips, strengthens, and supports young women and gender-expansive youth of color to be agents of change in their lives and in the world. Each year, SNLP works with over 600 participants, ages 11-22 to build community, critical consciousness, and college and career readiness through afterschool classes, a Summer Institute, paid community-based internships, advanced-level fellowships, college access and persistence support, and opportunities for organizational stewardship.


About the Spark Prize

The 2019-2020 Spark Prize cycle started in April 2019 with an open call to Brooklyn nonprofits to submit a 1,000-word essay demonstrating their deep history in Brooklyn and continued service to the borough; commitment to equity and racial justice for all Brooklynites; strong organizational values; and vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond. To be eligible, organizations had to have annual operating budgets over $350,000 and be in operation for at least five years. Applications were reviewed by the Spark Prize Committee, who narrowed submissions to 20 finalists, and then chose the five winners following in-person interviews.

About Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn. It is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community, working in partnership with generous donors and community leaders to bolster vital nonprofits, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunities for youth. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided over $50 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at

Media Contact: 

Liane Stegmaier, VP of Communications