New Partnership with Brooklyn Community Foundation Gives $2.2M to Local Nonprofits Aiding Asylum Seekers

Since last spring, New York City has welcomed more than 47,000 people seeking asylum in the U.S.

A new public-private partnership will drive $2.2 million in funding to support local organizations that are working to assist asylum seekers in New York. 

“Our immigrant communities are an essential part of the fabric of our city, and critical to who we are and our success,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams while announcing the new partnership in early March. 

The Welcome NYC initiative will see several philanthropic foundations collectively contribute $1 million, while New York City council is allocating $1.2 million in council funding to the initiative. 

“Welcome NYC will help organizations on the ground providing support to asylum seekers, and our communities more broadly, with crucial services. As we continue to advocate for increased federal and state support, the council will pursue comprehensive solutions to help migrants and all residents access health, opportunity and safety,” said Adams.

The philanthropic foundations contributing a collective $1 million to the initiative will include: 

“As our city continues to welcome a new wave of New Yorkers, we want them all to feel supported and part of the fabric of our communities,” said Jocelynne Rainey, president and CEO of Brooklyn Community Foundation.

“That belonging is made possible through the work of grassroots nonprofit organizations, many of which we support through our Immigrant Rights Fund. Our partnership with the city council on Welcome NYC will help drive critical additional funding across our city, and especially Brooklyn, to bolster nonprofit lifelines and help them deliver essential services to those navigating uncharted roads.”

The initiative will aim to support organizations that are actively providing critical services, including urgent legal services, workforce development, literacy programs, youth services, faith-based services and food assistance. 

“Ensuring that asylum seekers have every resource necessary available to them to as they settle into their new lives in New York City is essential to making our city an inclusive place of opportunity for all New Yorkers,” said Chymeka Olfonse, the managing director of Robin Hood’s Adults and House Supports grantmaking portfolio. 

Since last spring, New York City has welcomed more than 47,000 people seeking asylum in the U.S. More than 29,000 people remain in the City’s care, primarily in 88 emergency shelters and seven Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Centers (HERRCs).

Over the past year council members and staff have met with service providers to learn about current service gaps and what resources may be needed to assist asylum seekers. 

“As the first immigrant elected to the 26th Council District, I know firsthand the challenges of being a newcomer and how difficult it is to access the services necessary to assimilate to a new country. Our district currently has more than 20 shelters, many of which house asylum seekers, migrants and refugees," said Council Member Julie Won. 

"We are witnessing and hearing firsthand, the need for expedited work papers, mental health services, and other social services for our new neighbors. The Welcome NYC initiative is an immediate response from the speaker and the city council to the cries of many children and families who have come to our city seeking refuge."

The council’s funding allocation will be delivered to more than two dozen local organizations.

The council has also proposed several solutions, including: 

  • Identifying large-scale hotels for better-suited indoor HERRC sites 
  • Holding oversight hearings to hear from asylum seekers, the public and agency officials
  • Releasing a report with policy recommendations to improve city shelters, housing, mental health services, language access, temporary humanitarian shelters, immigration legal services, rental assistance, workforce development, healthcare and education

As one of the organizations chosen to aid these critical efforts, Brooklyn Community Foundation is now mobilizing local residents to help the newest wave of New Yorkers. The organization is calling for donations to help raise an additional $50,000 for their Immigrant Rights Fund. 

Brooklyn Community Foundation is asking for donations by April 30, to help bring this year's total giving through that fund to $700,000. For more information, click here