Our strategic grantmaking and special initiatives advance racial justice in support of our mission to spark lasting social change for a fair and just Brooklyn.
We believe Brooklyn residents who are closest to the challenges in our communities are closest to the solutions. Our grantmaking investments are informed by our unique Brooklyn Insights community engagement model, first developed in 2014, which ensures that we learn from the lived experience of residents and local leaders in order to build our understanding of challenges and to prioritize issue areas and approaches for investment.
In 2020, as part of our COVID-19 response, we began tracking and analyzing the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic in Brooklyn’s communities of color. We identified a set of key indicators at the Community District level that correlated to more severe outcomes especially in Black and Latinx communities. We subsequently began focusing our grantmaking support to ten neighborhoods we determined are facing the greatest systemic barriers to social, health, and economic equity: Bedford Stuyvesant (CD 3), Bushwick (CD 4), East New York (CD 5), Sunset Park (CD 7), Crown Heights North (CD 8), Crown Heights South (CD 9), Coney Island (CD 13), Brownsville (CD 16), Flatbush (CD 14), East Flatbush (CD 17). We also identified priority populations that include older adults; Black, indigenous, and people of color; immigrants; low-wage and nontraditional workers; people with compromised immune systems; people who are unhoused and housing insecure; people who are formerly or currently incarcerated; people who are LGBTQIAGNC+; and people experiencing domestic violence.
All of our strategic grantmaking programs are conducted in close partnership with community members through participatory grantmaking models, in which they bring their lived experience and expertise as decision makers on our grantmaking advisory councils. We first implemented project-based participatory programs in 2015, and fully transitioned to having community advisory councils for all discretionary initiatives in 2021.
We provide unrestricted general operating support wherever possible—to give organizations the flexibility to use our funding where it's needed most—and we strive to reduce administrative burdens on nonprofits with simplified grant application and reporting processes. We have developed an Equity Filter to prioritize support for organizations often marginalized by philanthropy, taking into consideration budget size, identity of its executive director, number of board members, and percentage of individual giving as part of annual fundraising (as an indicator of proximity to wealth). This filter also informs which organizations we showcase in our donor communications, press opportunities, and capacity-building offerings, as this often yields even greater support than our own grants offer.