The Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants (YSCG) program supports activities to strengthen the organizational infrastructure of nonprofit organizations in the five boroughs of New York City that provide direct services to young people ages 5 to 25. The long-term goal of the YSCG program is to help build stronger, more stable youth-serving organizations that will ultimately improve the lives of young people. These grants provide general operating support to allow grantees the flexibility to determine the best way to allocate the funds to address their capacity-building needs.
Applicants should describe their organization’s mission and youth programming. The Foundation expects that applicants will do some type of formal or informal assessment to help identify their capacity-building goal(s). Capacity-building goals may include: financial management, board recruitment and development, human resource management, staff training, fundraising, strategic planning, information technology, leadership development, communications, and evaluation systems. We welcome other compelling needs beyond this list. Strong proposals will make the case that addressing and accomplishing the goal(s) will result in a strengthened organization that can yield stronger services for youth.
The online application is now open. The next application deadline is September 30, 2019, 3:00 p.m. EST.
A New Program Derived from our Focus on Reducing Inequality in Youth Outcomes
In 2018, we took a fresh look at our Youth Service Improvement Grants program in the context of inequality in New York City. Three themes stood out in our review. First, the geography of inequality is stark, with poverty rates well over 40 percent in some neighborhoods and too few of our grant dollars going to those communities. Because economic and racial inequality are intertwined, better serving the highest poverty neighborhoods would also mean supporting Dominican, Puerto Rican, Afro-Caribbean, African American, and Southeast Asian youth. Second, a purely place-based approach to grantmaking would neglect under-served communities that are more geographically dispersed. People of Mexican-descent are now the third largest immigrant group in the city, have high rates of poverty but few established organizations tailored to their needs. LGBTQ youth are another group that is too often overlooked and whose well-being demands greater support. Third, our review noted the lack of racial, ethnic, gender identity and sexual-orientation diversity among executive directors and CEOs of youth-serving organizations.
Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants are part of an entirely new program that seeks to capitalize on these insights and reduce inequality by focusing on small youth-serving nonprofit organizations (with operating budgets between $250,000-$1 million) that meet specific eligibility criteria.
Eligible youth-serving, nonprofit organizations must meet at least one of the following criteria related to the Foundation’s focus on reducing inequality in youth outcomes:
- Currently provide direct youth services in one of the ten community districts identified as having the highest community risk to child well-being by the Citizen’s Committee for Children, or;
- Have well-defined existing programming tailored specifically to Mexican-descent or LGBTQ youth, or;
- Have leaders (Executive Director or CEO) who are people of color and/or LGBTQ individuals.
Awards are $60,000 each and provide general operating support to allow grantees the flexibility to allocate the funds for organizational capacity-building needs over a 3-year term that begins on March 1, 2020. The award provides $30,000 in the first year to get the work off the ground, $20,000 in the second year, and $10,000 in the third year. In the third year, the grantee is required to obtain new outside matching funding of $10,000.
The Foundation will award three new Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants annually.
In addition to grant support, grantees will participate in technical assistance activities designed to help them meet their organizational capacity-building goals. We have partnered with Community Resource Exchange (CRE) to provide one-on-one support as well as learning community cohort meetings over the three-year term of the grant. One-on-one support will allow each grantee to receive customized assistance that will help them work toward and achieve their core organizational goal(s). The learning community cohort meetings will focus on peer-based learning and coaching, allowing grantees to discuss challenges, seek advice from peers and colleagues, and collaborate across projects in a safe space. YSCG grantees are required to participate in technical assistance.
All YSCG applicants must be youth-serving community-based nonprofit organizations based in any of the five boroughs of New York City whose staff have direct programmatic contact with youth at the point of service. The applicant must meet at least one of the reducing inequality criteria and all organizational criteria.
Reducing Inequality Criteria
Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Provide youth services in one of the ten community districts identified as having the highest community risk to child well-being by the Citizens’ Committee for Children:
- CD 1 – Mott Haven
- CD 2 – Hunts Point
- CD 3 – Morrisania
- CD 4 – Concourse/Highbridge
- CD 5 – University Heights
- CD 6 – East Tremont
- CD 7 – Bedford Park
- CD 9 – Union Port/Soundview
- CD 5 – East New York
- CD 16 – Brownsville
Organizational offices do not need to be based in one of these community districts, but organizations must currently provide youth service programming in one of the districts. Organizations can identify their community districts on the New York City Department of City Planning’s Community District Profiles webpage.
2. Have existing well-defined programming tailored specifically to Mexican-descent youth or to LGBTQ youth:
With New York City being a diverse metropolis, it is likely that many organizations serve young people that fit into these groups. However, if services were not specifically designed for these populations, then the organization is not eligible to apply under this criterion. Organizations must have existing well-defined services that are specifically designed for Mexican-descent or LGBTQ youth to apply under this criterion.
3. Have leaders (e.g., executive directors or CEOs) who are people of color and/or LGBTQ individuals
Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- Serve youth ages 5 to 25. At least 80 percent of youth participating in the services must be in this age range.
- Have at least 80 percent of the service recipients be youth if the organization also serves adults.
- Have their own 501(c)(3) tax-exemption. If an applying organization is separately incorporated but tax-exempt through a group ruling (religious institutions), the applicant should supply the 501(c)(3) letter of the parent organization and documentation that it is part of the group.
- Have an operating budget between $250,000 and $1 million.
- Have most recent financial statements reviewed by an auditor, per New York State law requirement. If the organization’s annual budget is under $500,000, then certified public accountant’s reviewed financial statements are required.
- Have filed IRS Form 990.
What we do not support
The YSIG program only supports service improvement activities, so we would not support:
- Capital fund projects, scholarships, endowments, lobbying, real estate purchases, or awards to individuals
- Public and/or private schools
- National or international organizations
- Organizations that are based outside of the 5 boroughs of New York City
- Organizations that utilize fiscal sponsors/conduits
Applications for Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants are reviewed by a dedicated volunteer committee of Foundation staff once a year. Committee members have a diverse range of expertise, including finance, communications, and nonprofit administration. Thus, applications should be written to address an educated lay audience. If you use acronyms that may not be familiar to a lay audience, please be sure to spell them out the first time. If you use terms that are not commonly known, please provide relevant context and explanations.
Grantees will be selected according to the following criteria:
- The applicant provides a clear, compelling explanation of how the current services create positive and meaningful experiences for youth.
- The applicant has already undertaken an initial assessment (informal or formal) to identify its organizational capacity challenge(s).
- The applicant clearly identifies one or more organizational problems to be addressed, and explains how the problems have adversely impacted the organizational functioning.
- The applicant demonstrates a strong understanding of their capacity challenges and the underlying causes.
- The applicant clearly identifies a capacity-building project(s) and has a well-reasoned plan to implement the identified project(s). The plan effectively addresses the capacity problem: it is targeted at the causes of the problem, it is likely to be effective, and it is sustainable.
- The applicant describes meaningful goals and proposed activities of the plan.
- The applicant identifies the key staff and/or consultants to be involved in the proposed activities and identifies a capable staff member or manager to oversee the plan and track progress across the timeline.
- The applicant outlines how it will collect and use information to determine whether the capacity building project is successful.
- The applicant convincingly describes how the newly built capacity will be sustained operationally and financially.
When preparing an online application, the narrative and background information portions of the proposal must be completed in the microsoft word templates, which are provided below. You may download and complete these files and upload to the application portal when you apply, or you may download the templates from the application portal while preparing your application.
Proposals are due by September 30, 2019 (3:00 p.m. EST), for decisions in March 2020.