Going Wide: The New York City Community Trust's Broad Reach

Mass transit is among NYCT's priorities. Photo: Malgosia S/shutterstock

Mass transit is among NYCT's priorities. Photo: Malgosia S/shutterstock

New York City has the largest and most varied nonprofit sector of any city in America. There's even more nonprofits than restaurants, which is saying something in this food obsessed city. Yet while Gotham's nonprofits often work in wildly different areas than one another, quite a few have something in common: They've either gotten support from the New York Community Trust at some point or would like to get support from this all-important local funder. 

If you want to get a sense of what's happening across New York's nonprofit community, along with what issues are hot at a given moment, one good place to look is at NYCT's regular grantmaking announcements. These bursts of grants tend to go to a host of groups working in a different areas. But there's also often cash that's immediately responsive to current events or emerging problems. 

Most recently, NYCT awarded $5.6 million to 45 nonprofits spread across all five boroughs. In this grant cycle, the funder addressed everything from the environment to arts and culture, workforce development, health, LGBTQ issues, the elderly, human justice, education, human services, community development, and people with special needs. That's a lot of topics to fund all at once, but if anyone can tackle New York City problems from so many angles, it’s NYCT. Like many community foundations, it eschews the common practice of private foundations of focusing on just several causes and instead goes wide. 

Here are a few highlights from NYCT’s recent grantmaking that stand out to us. 

Preventing Sexual Harassment

On the heels of the #MeToo movement and high-profile sexual assault allegations in nearly every industry, NYCT has an eye on the arts sector in particular. It recently awarded a $150,000 grant to the Alliance of Resident Theaters to help prevent the sexual abuse of actors.

Free Coding Classes

NYCT has long been interested in STEM-related education funding and is looking for more ways to connect STEM education to jobs. One example here is the new $125,000 Knowledge House grant, which is going towards a free coding program for high school students and placement of select students in internships at tech companies. Seven grants the education/youth development category were awarded in NYCT’s most recent round of giving.

Improving Mass Transit

Public transit is the way to get around in New York City, so naturally this is a top local priority for NYCT. NYCT’s mass transit grants are part of its community development program, and recent grants of $80,000 and $75,000 went to the Regional Plan Association and Riders Alliance respectively. These grants are going towards supporting a light-rail transit service that connects Bay Ride to Coop City and also to organize local residents to push for better mass transit systems and conditions.

The Elderly

The needs of the growing elderly population of New York City continues to be a significant cause for concern for many locally focused funders, including NYCT, which has a long history of funding this area .While senior health has often been the priority, the foundation is also working to address other issues that come with aging. For example, NYCT recently gave a $70,000 grant to Search and Care, a group that’s expanding a money-management program for seniors.

People with Special Needs

Speaking of the city’s most vulnerable residents, funding for people with disabilities is on the rise as well. NYCT awarded a grant to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to train parents who speak Chinese to help their developmentally disabled children. Other special needs grants went to AXS Lab, the New York Hall of Science, and Teach Access to make physical and online places more accessible and to expand autism programming.

Although there are no grant application deadlines at NYCT and proposals can be sent in year-around, get yours in by May 2 or October 12 to be considered for the next funding cycles. There are also some good RPF opportunities right now for programs that serve immigrant youth and for the pre-professional development of young artists from underrepresented populations. Learn more about open RFPs here.