Three New-York City Nonprofits Awarded Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants
We are pleased to announce that the Foundation has awarded three Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants to New York City nonprofit organizations that provide services to young people in the five boroughs. These grants provide up to $60,000 in unrestricted general operating support over three years, with the specific purpose of strengthening the infrastructure of promising organizations that provide direct services to young people ages 5 to 25 in New York City. The three organizations receiving grants are: Teachers & Writers Collaborative, The Gardiner Foundation, and Brooklyn Boatworks.
To be eligible for the grant, an organization must meet one of four criteria focused on reducing inequality in youth outcomes in New York City. Specifically, eligible organizations must either: 1) provide direct services to youth in one of eleven community districts identified as having the highest risk to child well-being, 2) have existing programming tailored specifically to youth of Mexican-descent, 3) have existing programming tailored specifically to LGBTQ youth, or 4) be led by people of color and/or a member of the LGBTQ community.
The Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants program is open to nonprofit organizations that that provide direct services to youth ages 5-25 in the five boroughs and have a budget between $250,000 and $1 million. Awards provide $30,000 for the first year, $20,000 for the second year, and $10,000 in the third year. In the third year, the grantee is required to obtain new outside matching funds of $10,000.
The newest Youth Service Capacity-Building Grants:
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
Teachers & Writers Collaborative partners with New York City public schools to provide creative writing workshops, led by professional writers, where participating students learn how to analyze plays, poetry, paintings, and fiction through an artistic lens. Students write their own texts based on the work studied in class that day and receive instruction in collaborative writing exercises to build community and to develop social learning skills. Teachers & Writers’ primary sources of funding are fees from partner public schools and support from government agencies. But school closures during the pandemic revealed vulnerabilities in Teachers & Writers’ funding streams, as school budgets were cut or restructured. The organization’s capacity-building plan, supported by this grant, involves developing a strategy to diversify its funding sources. Teachers & Writers plans to hire a full-time development director to work with the Executive Director to build long-term individual, corporate, and foundation funding plans.
The Gardiner Foundation
The Gardiner Foundation’s flagship program, Tru Talk, is a bi-weekly program of facilitated dialogue and recreational excursions led by local experts and volunteer mentors to support at-risk, economically disadvantaged youth in the Bronx. The goal of the program is to provide a safe, confidential space for youth to build relationships within their community and discuss current issues impacting young people, such as police brutality, sexual health, and teen pregnancy. Mentors include members of the organization’s board of directors, as well as leaders from religious institutions, schools, and social services agencies. In 2022, Gardiner’s board completed an organizational self-assessment, which identified program planning, development, and program sustainability as their biggest challenges, especially because the organization wants to expand the Tru Talk program to serve additional youth throughout the Bronx. In response, their capacity-building plan centers on hiring a local school principal as a program planning consultant to build a clearly defined program expansion plan for the Tru Talk youth program, which will include staff recruitment and a fundraising strategy.
Brooklyn Boatworks’ school-based boat-building program, which is held at Title 1 schools both during and after school, aims to improve students’ knowledge of STEM subjects, promote social-emotional development, and introduce students to the waterfront and maritime activities. Students attend the program once or twice a week for two hours each session, for either half of the school year or the full school year. In the boat building program, students work together to construct a two-seat sailboat using a curriculum that incorporates STEM lessons in measurement, buoyancy, the physics of sailing, and more. Students also learn how to use and care for tools and improve their social-emotional skills by working cooperatively. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony where the students sail their boats on the East River. Currently, Brooklyn Boatworks lacks a centralized database of participants, which has led to challenges related to tracking student involvement and engagement with programming, in addition to making it difficult to conduct evaluations and communicate with partner schools. The organization’s capacity-building plan involves acquiring and building out a database system that will be used for internal and external communication, participant monitoring, and program evaluation. At the same time, they will engage a web developer to integrate the public-facing functions of the database with their website. Over the longer term, the incorporation of program data will broaden the organization’s reach, increase student retention, and provide concrete information to measure progress towards goals.