Meet the foundations that took home NCRP Impact Awards

Awardee for Community Foundation/Grantmaking Public Charity:

Brooklyn Community Foundation

Cecilia Clarke, President & CEO Brooklyn Community Foundation

Cecilia Clarke, President & CEO
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. Since its founding in 2009, the foundation and its donors have provided over $20 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits throughout New York City’s largest borough, bolstering vital programs and services while responding to urgent community needs and opportunities.

In 2014, under the leadership of new President & CEO Cecilia Clarke, Brooklyn Community Foundation moved to Crown Heights to be situated close to the community it serves. And while many community foundations seek input about certain aspects of their work, Brooklyn Community Foundation took it a step further by extensively engaging with grantees and community members to determine the future direction of its grantmaking.

Through this community engagement initiative called “Brooklyn Insights,” the foundation engaged nearly 1,000 people through 30 sector-based roundtables and “deep-dives” into three neighborhoods – striving to capture challenges and opportunities facing Brooklyn at a time of unprecedented growth and inequality, and to find concrete ways the foundation could make a measurable impact. While hosting a series of neighborhood dialogues in the East New York neighborhood, the foundation’s director of community leadership Tynesha McHarris met one-on-one with a range of local leaders, including Misba Abdin.

Misba, who founded Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) in 2011, has lived in East New York for nearly 30 years, achieving success running a chain of grocery stores with his family. But as he began to see thousands of immigrants from his native Bangladesh moving to Brooklyn, it was evident he needed to do more for his community.

While initially setting out to serve Bengalis, BACDYS has now embraced the entire East New York community – and focuses on bringing together people from across cultures to make the neighborhood stronger. With its mission growing, it became clear that the organization would need more than relying solely on Misba’s funding, leadership and limited staffing to survive.

Because of its Brooklyn Insights work in East New York, the foundation is now partnering closely with Misba to build BACDYS’s capacity to respond to community needs and to help it evolve into a fully functioning nonprofit. The foundation has provided extensive training and technical assistance, including vetting its first-ever grant proposals to three prestigious New York foundations and ensuring they paid notice to this fledgling effort. In the coming months, BACDYS will host its first foundation site visits, and is on its way to hiring its first full-time executive director.

It’s organizations like BACDYS that are the heart of communities across Brooklyn – too often overlooked, but critical to the strength of neighborhoods and the future of the borough.