Brooklynites Raise $3.7 Million to Address COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impacts

With a Focus on Racial Justice, Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund Has Awarded $3.3M to Date, with 214 Nonprofits Receiving Immediate Response Grants to Meet Urgent Needs

Brooklyn, NY - Since launching the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund on March 13, 2020, Brooklyn Community Foundation has raised nearly $3.7 million from over 1,600 donors to address the disproportionate social, economic, and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the borough’s communities of color—making it the single largest community-funded effort in the Foundation’s 10-year history.

Major supporters of the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund include MailChimp, Tiktok, Take Two Interactive Software, National Grid, Cumberland Packing Company (the makers of Sweet ‘n Low), the Sheehan Family Companies, the Endeavor Foundation, Harman Family Foundation, and the Seedworks Foundation.

“We are incredibly grateful to our generous partners who have helped power this racially just, boroughwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “As the center of the epicenter this Spring, Brooklyn’s communities of color have endured unprecedented hardships, and local nonprofits have been invaluable lifelines of support. As we move to the next phase of the Fund, we want to focus on the profound economic impacts of this crisis and work towards reimagining and dismantling racist systems and policies that have so clearly failed us. In this way, we continue our mission to fight for a fair and just Brooklyn for all.”

The Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund was developed in alignment with the Foundation’s commitment to racial justice. Before launching the Fund, the Foundation consulted its community partners who provided information about heightened needs, emerging challenges, and community-led solutions and approaches. 

In the first phase of the Fund, which concluded this month, the Foundation distributed $3.3 million through an open application for emergency grants to grassroots organizations, unsolicited general operating support grants to prior Foundation grantees, and donation matches for nearly 150 grantees’ crowdfunding campaigns. 

The Foundation deployed more than $2 million through the Fund’s Immediate Response grants to 214 community-based nonprofits coping with the acute impacts of the pandemic across Brooklyn. Grants of up to $10,000 were approved weekly beginning March 18th for emergency food, PPE, direct cash assistance, healthcare and mental health services, support for survivors of domestic violence, small business loans, immigrant services, support for people recently released from incarceration, safe housing, local news coverage, and much more. 

Of the organizations receiving Immediate Response grants, 68% are led by people of color and 35% have budgets under $500,000. The Fund also aimed to reach organizations beyond its current grantees, with nearly two-thirds of recipients having no current funding relationship with the Foundation. See the complete list of Immediate Response grants. 

Additionally, the Foundation provided free capacity building workshops to help local nonprofits navigate operational challenges in the face of volatility and financial uncertainty, including online fundraising training and how to access the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The Foundation will begin the next phase of the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund this summer by gathering insights from community-based organizations and residents most affected by the underlying drivers of inequity that led to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic across communities. Their feedback will inform future grants that target what COVID-19 revealed: disproportionate health, economic, and social impacts due to systemic racial injustice in Brooklyn.




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 advance racial justice, 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