Transformed Foundation Could Raise $150 Million Per Year

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn will no longer be a poor cousin to Manhattan when it comes to spreading grant money around.

After more than a year of review, evaluation, and extensive consultation with Brooklyn leaders, the principals of the Independence Community Foundation have changed its name, its operating practices and its scope.

Now called the Brooklyn Community Foundation, it is the first community foundation devoted to a single borough. In the past it worked only from its endowment, but now it will be able to raise money and will concentrate all of its grant giving on Brooklyn.

Marilyn Gelber continues as president and Alan Fishman as chairman.

The Independence Community Foundation was founded 11 years ago by the Independence Community Bank. When that bank merged with Sovereign Bank, the foundation was spun off as an independent entity.

Shortly after that, Gelber, Fishman (both residents of Brooklyn) and others began to think about a new approach in Brooklyn. Two fundamental dynamics were influential in their reflection.

One was the change underway in the borough, with the creation of a new Downtown, the emergence of a new cultural center, and zoning changes that stimulated new residential development. According to sources who track such data, the net worth of Brooklyn should reach $154 billion by next year.

The other dynamic was the feeling that Brooklyn was not getting its fair share of charitable money.

Gelber has pointed out that New York state is still first in the nation in philanthropic giving, with more than $5 billion annually, but that almost 90 percent of charitable giving in the city goes to Manhattan.

A detailed survey conducted by the Brooklyn Community initiative shows a potential within Brooklyn of giving more than $150 million each year from 2010 to 2030.

The foundation has established five separate “pools” that donors could earmark as recipients of their contributions. These are low-cost housing, education, emergency social services, the arts and the environment.

Under the Independence Community Foundation, more than $70 million has been dispersed with $43 million going to Brooklyn interests, $11 million citywide, $7 million to New Jersey, $3.5 million to Queens and the rest elsewhere.

What the Foundation Sponsors

The foundation has been a major sponsor of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn promotion. This year it is the largest sponsor of the Atlantic Antic and has been a major supporter of ventures in Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, various affordable housing initiatives, several partnerships with community groups such as Bed-Stuy Restoration, Red Hook on the Road, the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Bushwick Credit Union. A formal announcement of the new foundation will be made on Thursday, Oct. 1.