June Brings New Grants and New Trustees
July 2, 2015
The month of June is bittersweet for the New York Foundation board and staff. We said good-bye to two trustees whose terms had ended and welcomed two new trustees in their place. Outgoing trustees Seth Borgos and Wayne Ho are in many ways irreplaceable, but we are fortunate that new members Holly Delany-Cole and Victor Quintana will add their unique perspective to the Foundation’s board.
Trustees also approved grants at the June meeting; two were awarded to start-up organizations. Read about our new grantees below:
Release Aging People in Prison Campaign
Year Founded: 2013
Population served: offenders/ex-offenders
Approach: community organizing
The United States leads the world in incarceration rates. More than two million people are currently in the nation’s prisons or jails—a 500 percent increase over the past thirty years—and consequently, the number of elderly and aging people in prisons has grown. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws instituted in the 1980s imposed long-term prison sentences that are not particularly commensurate with the crimes for which people were convicted. Prison overcrowding has government officials struggling to fund a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety. Release Aging People in Prison Campaign aims to establish a parole process in New York that is transparent, all-inclusive, and fair, with decisions based on public safety risk and individuals’ demonstrated personal growth while in prison. Founded by currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and other concerned community members, the campaign raises public awareness about the destructiveness of mass incarceration and the benefits to society in releasing aging people.
Community Food Advocates
Year Founded: 2010
Population served: neighborhood residents, economically disadvantaged
How can children concentrate in class when they are hungry or poorly nourished? In 2013, 250,000 out of 780,000 students eligible for free or reduced-price meals in New York City public schools did not participate in the school lunch program because of the stigma of poverty that is associated with participation. Students testifying at New York City Council Education Committee Budget hearings admit they are embarrassed to line up for school lunch because classmates ridicule, harass, and even bully them if they do. Community Food Advocates wants to change the current system by removing the link between school food and family income. The group is calling for New York City to implement universal school lunch, and improve the quality and appeal of school food. Community Food Advocates achieved a big win when the city implemented free lunch for all middle-school students in September 2014. The group wants to capitalize on that momentum to ensure long-term, system-wide success.
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
The New York City Panel on Climate Change predicts that by 2050, summer daytime temperatures could increase four to six degrees Fahrenheit from the current average, while heat waves could double the number of 90-degree days. Higher temperatures cause dangerous pollution levels to soar, triggering asthma attacks, as well as other health problems, such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heart problems. Low-income families are among the most vulnerable when the city experiences this type of weather. The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYCEJA) coordinates policy advocacy campaigns to fight against inequitable environmental burdens that disproportionately affect low-income communities of color. Building on the momentum from the People’s Climate March last fall and the recent release of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s report One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, NYCEJA and its allies are eager to develop the New York City Climate Justice Agenda, a campaign that will highlight and reduce environmental burdens through climate change policy initiatives. These initiatives, which will be crafted based on the mayor’s report, would improve in low-income communities across the city.
Year Founded: 1991
Population served: economically disadvantaged
Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services
Year Founded: 2011
Population served: immigrants/refugees
Approach: direct service
Following the terrorist attacks of 2001, Misba Abdin and Darma Diaz, both well-regarded East New York activists, began hosting community-building events that brought together families for food and cultural performances. They saw how effective these events were at breaking down the barriers between residents, particularly Bangladeshi families who had felt invisible and cut off from the rest of the community. Over time their vision expanded and today Bangledeshi American Community Development and Youth Services helps Bangladeshi New Yorkers attain educational and economic success, lead healthy lives, secure affordable housing, and develop leadership skills. Staffed by volunteers, the group served more than 5,000 neighborhood residents in 2014. The group’s founders want to build connections between Bangladeshi families and prepare them to be active participants in the neighborhood’s civic life. Direct services and cultural events initially drew families to this program, but the founders are laying the foundation for community organizing by building trust among neighbors, identifying community assets, and collaborating with partner organizations.
Grants were also renewed for: Brooklyn Movement Center, Center for Frontline Retail, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Faith in New York, Good Old Lower East Side, Mekong, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Street Vendor Project, Urban Youth Collaborative, and VOCAL-NY.