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12/9/13 - First Grants Made from New $43 Million Brooke Astor Funds in The New York Community Trust

David Marcus, (212) 889-3963,
Amy Wolf, (212) 686-0010 x234,


First Grants Made from New $43 Million Brooke Astor Funds in The New York Community Trust

Twenty-one grants totaling $9.2 million to support early childhood reading and other education programs in New York City

New York (Dec. 9, 2013)—The New York Community Trust is making the first grants from $43 million in funds from philanthropist Brooke Astor to support educational programs across New York City. The initial 21 grants, totaling approximately $9.2 million, will focus on programs to improve reading, vocabulary, and comprehension in the early grades.

Actors will train teachers to bring reading to life and education experts will build a new way to bridge the reading gap between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Many of the programs target children in poor communities and several focus on those who don’t speak English at home.

“A child needs to know how to read well to succeed,” says Shawn Morehead, program officer for education at The Trust. “But many City kids don’t learn the vocabulary and comprehension skills they need to succeed in later grades.”

The State Attorney General and administrators of Brooke Astor’s estate chose The New York Community Trust in 2012 to manage and distribute about $43 million to support education. These new grants are made from two funds in The Trust: the Brooke Astor One-Year Fund for New York City Education (approx. $7.1 million) and the Brooke Astor Five-Year Fund for New York City Education (approx. $35 million).

“We are very pleased to see the Brooke Astor Funds for New York City Education continue Mrs. Astor’s philanthropic work—work that was aimed at bettering the lives of New York City’s students and particularly those from our more disadvantaged city neighborhoods,” says Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “We are confident that these landmark funds, which my office was instrumental in creating, will make a real difference in the lives of future generations of New Yorkers.”

The Five-Year Fund supports programs using creative and promising approaches to help children learn and improve their reading. These grants were recommended by a distinguished advisory panel, and additional grants will come from this fund in the future. Grants from the One-Year Fund go to organizations named in Mrs. Astor’s will that made proposals to create educational programs or expand existing ones. Descriptions of all grants follow.

Grants from The Brooke Astor Five-Year Fund To Support Reading In The Early Grades For Disadvantaged New Yorkers

  • Creative Arts Team, $460,000 for actors to bring reading to life in kindergarten through second grade classrooms and to train teachers in dramatic storytelling.
  • Hunter College, $300,000 to train second grade teachers in East Harlem to teach reading, particularly to children who don’t speak English at home.
  • Jumpstart for Young Children, $80,000 to test a summer reading program for children entering kindergarten in the South Bronx. If successful, the project will demonstrate a new way to help bridge the gap between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten reading instruction.
  • New York University, $510,000 to bring World of Words, a vocabulary-building program for ages four through seven, into classrooms with poor children, those who don’t speak English at home, and those with disabilities.
  • Reading Excellence and Discovery Foundation, $586,000 to coordinate individual tutoring, teacher coaching, and parent training in three Bronx elementary schools.
  • Teaching Matters, $120,000 for a new system to help kindergarten through third grade teachers provide high-quality reading instruction in poor communities.

Grants From the Brooke Astor One-Year Fund for New York City Education
(Totaling approximately $7.1 Million. Exact figures for grantees have not been set.)

  • Brooklyn Museum, for new paid high school internship programs that will study and create digital guides to the Museum’s feminist art collection and plan events for LGBT teens.
  • Carnegie Hall Society, to expand a program that has musicians helping students in detention centers and schools with high suspension rates write, record, and perform their own music; and for a new program to train music teachers on rehearsal techniques, curriculum planning, and repertoire selection.
  • Central Park Conservancy, to help teachers and parents use Central Park for science lessons exploring habitats, biodiversity, and architecture.
  • City Parks Foundation, to expand in-school, after-school, and summer environmental science programs.
  • College of the Atlantic, to work with the New York Harbor School on Governors Island to improve environmental science education.
  • Historic Hudson Valley, to use runaway slave announcements to inspire middle school students to create artwork and essays, helping them meet Common Core Learning Standards as well as the City’s Blueprint for Arts Learning.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, to help teachers create lesson plans that use art to address Common Core Learning Standards.
  • Morgan Library and Museum, to teach students about medieval and Renaissance book making while helping teachers meet Common Core and arts education standards.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, for a program that teaches students about anatomy, bullying, preventing pregnancy, and avoiding violence. The program will serve nine Bronx high schools.
  • New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, to start after-school programs in Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan libraries for teens to tutor middle and elementary school students in reading, pitch in with technology projects, and help with homework.
  • Prospect Park Alliance, for a second mobile education station in Prospect Park to provide books, maps, and hands-on activities for the park’s visitors.
  • Rockefeller University, for a new laboratory to help City teachers and students meet tougher science standards. High school students will complete in-school and after-school lab work and teachers will take part in evening and summer sessions on subjects including neuroscience and molecular biology.
  • Trust for Public Land, for student and teacher workshops emphasizing math, science, engineering, and design concepts in playground and garden design. The program will weave in Common Core Standards and material on storm water management.
  • United States Fund for UNICEF, to create a real-time emergency simulation for fourth through eighth graders to expose them to global current events while they practice skills required by Common Core Learning Standards.
  • Wildlife Conservation Society, to expand the Mannahatta Project website to include the environmental history of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The Society will use the work to create a publicly available curriculum for middle and high schools.
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Since 1924, The New York Community Trust has been the home of charitable New Yorkers who share a passion for the City and its suburbs—and who are committed to improving them. The Trust supports an array of effective nonprofits that help make the City, Westchester, and Long Island vital and secure places to live and work, while building permanent resources for the future. The New York Community Trust ended 2012 with assets of $2.1 billion in more than 2,000 charitable funds, and made grants totaling $136 million. The Trust welcomes new donors. Information at


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