Sixteen Brooklyn youth, ages 16 to 24, have awarded $2.5 million in grants to a range of local nonprofit groups supporting Brooklyn’s young people.

The youth are part of Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council, which works alongside the foundation’s programs staff to inform grantmaking strategy, review grant applications, conduct site visits and make funding decisions.  

As part of the foundation’s participatory grantmaking process, which gives decision-making power to those with the lived experiences of the issues at hand, the young activists were able to choose which organizations would receive the Invest in Youth grants. The categories included Youth Leadership, Youth Justice, and Immigrant Youth and Families.

The process allows young people to determine where the money goes in their own communities and paves the way for Brooklyn’s future, the foundation said in a press release. It added that nearly three-quarters of the grantees were BIPOC-led.

Foundation President and CEO Jocelynne Rainey said the grants marked the foundation’s full transition to its participatory grantmaking approach, which was an exciting milestone.

“We are honored to share power with youth leaders, learning from them as we work together to further racial justice in our communities,” she said.

The Youth Advisory Council members made its decisions over a four-month period and selected 55 organizations to receive the funding. According to the foundation, of the groups chosen 74% have Black, Indigenous, or people of color leadership; 47% have Black leaders; and 55% have budgets under $1 million.

The grants prioritize the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, East New York, Coney Island, Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Sunset Park — where COVID-19 has had outsized impacts on residents

The groups chosen include America on Tech, Footsteps, Green Guerillas, Kings Against Violence Initiative, and many others. For a full list, click here.

Brayan Pagoada, Youth Advisory Council member and deputy director for organizing at Churches United for Fair Housing, said he knew the problems faced by young people like himself — “queer, immigrant youth who are often disconnected from resources that can help them thrive.”

“Nonprofits helped me succeed and I know they can and will support many other youth. Being part of the advisory council gave me the opportunity to be part of the solution to a more just world that creates opportunity for all,” Pagoada said.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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