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Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education

About the Fund

When Brooke Astor died in August 2007, at the age of 105, the New York Times called her the City’s “First Lady of Philanthropy.” As president of the Vincent Astor Foundation from 1959 to 1997, Mrs. Astor invested almost $200 million in libraries, museums, hospitals, homeless shelters, and community programs all over New York City. Among the foundation’s grantees were many landmark institutions as well as thousands of smaller organizations and community programs dedicated to giving all New Yorkers a chance for a better home, a better education, and a better life.

Mrs. Astor’s dedication to philanthropy and to the City of New York continues. As part of the settlement of her estate, the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education (“Astor Fund”) was created, and The New York Community Trust was selected to administer it. The Astor Fund’s purpose is to support charitable programs and activities that improve the quality of education in New York City. Mrs. Astor was a great reader, and wanted everyone to enjoy reading. She understood that good reading skills are essential to leading a productive life. Therefore, the vast majority of the Astor Fund (approximately $35 million) will be granted over a five-year period to projects with potential to generate widespread, systemic improvement in reading skills in the early grades among disadvantaged students in New York City.

The Fund’s Grantmaking Strategy

The New York Community Trust will make grants from the Astor Fund over five years. Grants in the first two years will support a broad range of new and established projects with the potential to generate systemic improvements in reading skills for students attending the City’s highest-poverty schools. In December 2013, The Trust awarded approximately $2 million in initial grants from the Fund. Approximately $3.5 million will be awarded through the 2014 Request for Proposals for groups to design and test new initiatives, expand existing successful programs, and conduct research to inform the practice of teaching reading in the early grades in New York City.

Renewal grants expected to range from $200,000 to more than $1 million per group per year will be made to select grantees that show early evidence of improvements in reading skills and potential for creating widespread, sustainable change in the way reading is taught and supported in the early grades in the New York City public schools. (The size of renewal grants for research projects will be modest compared to those supporting direct services to students, teachers, and/or schools.) The grantee selection process is guided by an outside advisory panel and will remain competitive throughout the five years. Groups receiving grants are expected not only to evaluate their own work but also to collaborate with the Astor Fund’s external evaluator and participate in meetings organized by the Fund. In its last two years, in addition to continuing support for successful grantees, the Astor Fund will make a limited number of grants for groups to advocate for policies consistent with lessons learned about how to improve reading skills of the City’s disadvantaged students in the early grades.

2014 Request for Proposals

The Request for Proposals provides detailed information about the Astor Fund’s purpose, goals, funding priorities, proposal requirements and application procedures. This is an open RFP that is being widely distributed. Groups should read the RFP carefully before deciding to apply; the selection process will be highly competitive.

Proposals are due on or before March 14, 2014. Organizations planning to apply must send an email on or before Feb. 14, 2014 to Astor@nyct-cfi.org with the information requested on page 7 of the RFP.    

Download the 2014 RFP 

Questions about this Request for Proposals should be sent to Astor@nyct-cfi.org. Answers to frequently asked questions will be posted on The New York Community Trust’s website starting Feb. 4, 2014. 

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.

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