Today, Brooklyn Community Foundation announced the five organizations selected as the recipients of its first annual Spark Prize, a grant worth $100,000 each:

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We hope that this Spark Prize is a resounding ‘seal of approval’ for organizations that embody Brooklyn’s ingenuity and leadership.” [/perfectpullquote]

Named for BCF’s mission to spark lasting social change in BrooklynSpark Prize is a non-discretionary gift aimed to support top-tier non-profit organizations that demonstrate a commitment to equity and racial justice for all Brooklynites; strong organizational values; and vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond.

“As Brooklyn’s community foundation, we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on these five outstanding organizations that call Brooklyn home and have such remarkable track-records of building equity and strength in our communities,” said BCF President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Just as Brooklyn is known around the world for its creativity and entrepreneurship, it’s also long been an exciting hub for inspiring and groundbreaking nonprofits.

To be eligible, non-profit organizations had to have annual operating budget of over $350,000 and be in operation for at least five years. The winning organizations were selected from a competitive pool of over 150 applicants by a distinguished committee of civic, business and neighborhood leaders from Brooklyn. The Spark Prize Committee narrowed applications to 20 finalists and then chose the five recipients, following in person interviews with finalists. 

Audre Lorde Project is an inter-generational organizing center for LGBT people of color that promotes community wellness and progressive social and economic justice in New York City. Founded in Brooklyn in 1996, it works with over 8,000 members; its work includes creating safety models against police brutality and hate crimes, as well as training small businesses, community organizations, and neighborhood leaders on de-escalation and safety strategies.

Common Justice is a restorative justice program of the Vera Institute of Justice that works with responsible parties and those harmed by violent crime in Brooklyn. Founded in 2008, it is the first and only alternative to incarceration program for violent crimes in the adult courts in the United States. It works with 16 to 24-year-olds to address the criminal justice system’s over-reliance on incarceration, to halt cycles of violence, and to meet the needs of victims of crime. To date, fewer than 8% of its participants have been terminated from the program for committing a new crime.

Make the Road: is an immigrant-led organization that develops grassroots leadership to mobilize Latino and working class communities. It provides legal services, education, and employment access to achieve policy change. MRNY is dedicated to building community power and racial equity in Bushwick, where it was founded in 1997. It now has over 20,000 members and 200 staff working across New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

MoCADA is a “museum without walls” that serves the African Diasporan community through art exhibitions, education, and community programs to promote African Diasporan art, racial equity, and social justice in Brooklyn. Founded in 1999, this year it is expanding from 2,000 sq. ft. to a new 20,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Fort Greene.

Neighbors Together is a dynamic soup kitchen, social service provider, and community center committed to ending hunger and poverty in Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and Bedford-Stuyvesant since 1982. It provides empowerment and community action programming to organize community members to advocate for policy change, in addition to serving 80,000 meals annually out of its community café. 

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“These incredible nonprofits are emblematic of the compassion, diversity, and tenacity that define Brooklynites.”[/perfectpullquote]

Spark Prize is presented by Brooklyn Community Foundation in partnership with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and is sponsored by TD Bank, with support from National Grid and the Brooklyn Nets Foundation.

“National Grid is pleased to help lead Brooklyn Community Foundation’s effort to shine a spotlight on organizations that are committed to uplifting the Brooklyn communities that we jointly serve,” said National Grid for New York President Kenneth Daly. “We extend congratulations to the recipients on their commitment to making a lasting change in Brooklyn. We have been proud to provide the energy needs of Brooklyn for over a century and we support programs designed to help improve the way people live, work and play.”

“I am extremely proud of our inaugural Spark Prize recipients,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “These incredible nonprofits are emblematic of the compassion, diversity, and tenacity that define Brooklynites. They work in the underserved corners of our borough, helping to ensure that the popularity of Brooklyn’s brand translates into prosperity for each and every one of our residents.”

The five organizations will be honored at a Spark Prize Celebration breakfast on Thursday, February 16, from 8:00am-10:00am, which will also pay tribute to Robert Catell, founding Board Member of Brooklyn Community Foundation and Former U.S. Chairman of National Grid.

 “We hope that this Spark Prize is a resounding ‘seal of approval’ for organizations that embody Brooklyn’s ingenuity and leadership,” said Clarke.


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