Grants in Action - The New York Community Trust

Grantmaking with Precision and Strength


Headshot of Shawn Morehead

Photo by Ari Mintz

From the Desk of Shawn Morehead, Trust Vice President for Grants

In a place as complicated and frenetic as New York, finding ways to create a better city for us all means moving with precision and strength.

For The Trust, moving with precision starts with our program officers, who stay engaged in their fields of expertise. Using funds from our donors, who have left legacies through permanent funds to champion causes they care about, The Trust staff looks for opportunities to support the most promising improvements to, and innovations in, the systems and services on which New Yorkers rely. And they monitor ongoing results to ensure we are making progress.

To move with strength, our program officers often collaborate, combining their resources and expertise to address challenges that do not fit neatly into a single category. We also create collaborations with other foundations and donors to magnify philanthropy’s impact—bringing even more resources and expertise to an issue.

Below, you can learn about some of our recent grants, many of which involve a wide range of New Yorkers—foundations, community groups, advocates, and donors—who turned their common interest into an opportunity to work together. The New York Community Trust is particularly proud of our role in bringing people together to create a better New York for us all.

Photo at top of page: “Strange Loop,” a play written by Michael R. Jackson, one of The Trust’s 2019 Helen Merrill Award-winners and 2020 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Photo by Joan Marchus for Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions


Girls in the SoundWaters Program fishing in the Long Island Sound.

ALL IN: Girls in a SoundWaters program seine fishing for creatures in the Long Island Sound. Photo by Michael Bagley



A vital workforce is key to keeping the city’s economy thriving. The Trust strives to improve conditions for today's workers and invests in young people for the future.
A group photo with individuals supporting taxi drivers and signs that say, “Debt Forgiveness NOW! Let Drivers LIVE.”
Courtesy of New York Taxi Workers Alliance

The proliferation of apps such as Uber and Lyft has disrupted the city’s taxi industry, with devastating consequences for many drivers and owners. With our grants, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance has advocated on behalf of drivers, including collecting fare and pay data to prove wage disparities.

The Alliance brought to light deceptive lending practices—which are now being investigated by government agencies—and created a demonstration project to help owners manage the sharp decline in value of their taxi medallions, which has caused many to face financial ruin. Here, members rally for medallion loan forgiveness.

Two girl students with signs supporting, “Girls for Gender Equity,” and a dress code celebrating, “body diversity, racial, religious and gender expression.”
Courtesy of Girls for Gender Equity

Girls for Gender Equity builds the leadership skills of female high school students. Supported by a Trust grant, a group of young women are learning to lead through community organizing, political advocacy, social media, and civic engagement. The goal is that the students—most of whom are young women of color—develop the capacity to advocate for themselves and for policies that can help hundreds of other young women who may be struggling with trauma, sexual violence, low expectations, sexism, and racism.

The city only does as well as its people. That is why The Trust helps make sure critical services are delivered to those who need them.
A Hunger Free New York City member shares about the program with a young lady.
Courtesy of Hunger Free New York City

People living with little or no money must navigate a convoluted bureaucracy to get government help with basics such as food, shelter, and medical care. The Trust has funded Hunger Free New York City to figure out how to streamline the benefits process to help applicants and government agencies. The group is researching and writing the first-ever compendium of city benefits requirements and is working with government agencies to make the applications quicker and more efficient, saving government money while bringing help to people faster. Watch a video about the program.

Two woman study resume writing at a library in Queens.
Courtesy of Queens Public Library

Education is often the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, but 1.8 million adults in the city do not have a high-school diploma. With 64 branches, the Queens Public Library is well-suited to offer adults instruction in English, technology, or job skills. With a grant from The Trust, the Library is creating an inventory of its own and external resources, and comparing it with community needs. It will look for barriers to success, and then plan how to fill gaps in services.

Here, two women participate in a resumé writing workshop held at the Central Library in Jamaica, Queens.

The Trust works to level the playing field for all by supporting efforts to improve the integrity and quality of our education and justice systems.
A group gathered in the front yard of a home with signs supporting “Make the Road New York.”
Courtesy of Make the Road New York

The New York Community Trust along with its Long Island and Westchester affiliates made grants to Make the Road New York to assist immigrants in several ways. A grant from our Westchester Community Foundation provided for health care, legal help, and civic engagement, while grants in the city and Long Island helped undocumented students access college financial aid through the state’s recently enacted Dream Act. A grant from The Trust-organized Donors’ Education Collaborative supports an advocacy effort to reduce policing in city schools and increase services to immigrant students. Here, families rally for reforms in Westchester.

Charles Nuñez headshot in front of a building.
Photo of Charles Nuñez by Ari Mintz

The Trust has given Youth Represent a grant to train interns who have had prior involvement in the justice system to document what is happening in courtrooms as a result of the recent reforms intended to help young offenders get services instead of serving time.

The interns record court decisions, analyze public data, organize focus groups of public defenders and young people, then create reports with their findings and recommendations.

One former intern, Charles Nuñez (pictured), went on to work for Youth Represent, and now serves on its board.

New York has unparalleled arts and cultural resources, and The Trust is dedicated to making them reflective of the city’s diversity and accessible to all.
A young artist with Young Urban Christians and Artists creates a work of art.
Photo by Katherine Gomez

While New York City is one of the arts capitals of the world, communities of color have struggled to gain recognition and investment for their rich artistry and cultural heritage.

To call attention to African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) arts and culture, The Trust organized the Mosaic Network and Fund, a collaboration of arts funders and practitioners. In 2019, Mosaic gave more than $4.5 million in three-year grants to 27 ALAANA groups, including Young Urban Christians and Artists (shown here) to develop artists, preserve cultural assets, expand education programs, and strengthen groups’ infrastructure.

A young lady looks at the art on the wall in a museum, with other visitors in the distance.
Courtesy of ArtsConnection

To help low-income New Yorkers take advantage of the city’s cultural resources, The Trust is funding a program to reduce museum fees for recipients of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits (formerly known as “food stamps”).

A grant to ArtsConnection will reduce fees at 15 museums for families participating in the food assistance program. It also will allow the group to work with the city’s Human Resources Administration for a marketing campaign about the program. Here, participants at an ArtsConnection event take in a show at the Brooklyn Museum, one of the institutions participating in the program.



Community groups and nonprofits supply vital services to people and our neighborhoods, so The Trust provides the critical assistance they need to thrive.
A member of Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn shares information with a young man.
Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call to the region, but low-income homeowners in flood-prone areas still are not getting all they need to protect themselves against future storms. As flood zone maps are updated, flood insurance expenses could be a major threat to struggling homeowners.

The Trust funded the Center for New York City Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn to use the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program as an opportunity to protect low-income homeowners. Through grassroots organizations like NHS Brooklyn, the Center delivers programs that help homeowners manage their flood risk, keeps communities informed, and advocates for affordability as the National Flood Insurance Program evolves.

Two men are talking on the sidewalk outside a home.
Photo by Adi Talwar

Journalism performs an essential job as it informs New Yorkers about events that affect their lives. With a three-year grant, The Trust is funding City Limits to bring independent reporting to Spanish-speaking New Yorkers. The online publication hired a bi-lingual reporter to create original articles, translated its English content into Spanish, and created short videos in Spanish to explain how New York City works. Some of the focus is geographic, such as changes in Bushwick (shown), which looms large in the city’s Latino past and present. Other coverage is driven by a focus on issues of particular importance to Spanish-speaking New Yorkers, like immigration, language access, health, and politics. City Limits is working with other organization to reach Spanish-speaking New Yorkers.

The city’s air, water, and natural resources sustain us all, so The Trust strengthens efforts to protect our common environment.
Vice President for Donor Services Gay Young tests water samples of Flushing Bay in Queens with grantees Riverkeeper and Guardians of Flushing Bay.
Hands Across the Watershed
Photo by Ari Mintz

The health of the Long Island Sound is vital to communities across the three states surrounding it. To ensure the Sound is protected, The New York Community Trust and its divisions—the Long Island Community Foundation and Westchester Community Foundation—have joined several foundations to create the Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative. The group announced its first grants—$316,000 to ten nonprofits—which will help conserve the watershed, plan for preservation and public usage, and monitor its ongoing health in a coordinated way.

Here, Vice President for Donor Services Gay Young tests water samples of Flushing Bay in Queens with grantees Riverkeeper and Guardians of Flushing Bay.

Anousheh Ansari speaking during a climate summit.
Photo courtesy of XPRISE

To stave off the disastrous effects of climate change, carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced, but the gases already in the atmosphere also need to be removed. With the help of The Trust, the XPRIZE Foundation has created the Circular Carbon Network for innovators pursuing ways to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into marketable products, such as fuel or building materials. The Network is bringing together the best and brightest to share information and foster relationships among researchers, inventors, and investors so that capital is directed at the most promising technology. Here, Anousheh Ansari, XPRIZE CEO, presents at the 2019 Climate Week summit at the Canadian Consulate in New York City.


The Trust’s community of donors has a long history of championing efforts to keep the elderly and people with disabilities participating in all aspects of city life.


The city’s first two affordable LGBT-friendly housing developments started construction and Stonewall House, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, opened at the end of 2019. To ensure the elders, some of whom were formerly homeless, are integrated safely into the community and get the services they need, The Trust funded SAGE to provide help to residents of the buildings and the neighborhoods. SAGE also hired a leader from the LGBT community to work with emergency, health, and neighborhood groups to develop a safety plan and to advocate for public support and services.

Dr. Parag Goyal and N.P. Birgit Siceloff from Weill Cornell Medicine standing side by side.
Photo courtesy Weill Cornell Medicine

Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization for people 65 and older, and “beta blockers,” which lower blood pressure by blocking the flow of adrenaline, are commonly prescribed. Their efficacy is unproven despite their popularity.

To help determine if beta blockers are beneficial or actually worsen heart function, The Trust has given a grant to Weill Cornell Medicine. Researchers including Dr. Parag Goyal and N.P. Birgit Siceloff (shown here) will study older adults who have experienced a particular type of heart failure that is often treated with beta blockers. The results could lead to a rethinking of a long-standing, common treatment for heart patients.

The Trust has a proud legacy of supporting the city’s medical practitioners, researchers, and institutions to improve health care and its availability for everyone.
A man sitting with staff from The Coalition for Behavioral Health.
Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock

New York State is in the middle of a major reform of how Medicaid pays for care for people with complex health conditions, including those with mental illness and substance use disorders. The Coalition for Behavioral Health, the sector’s membership and advocacy organization, is using a grant from The Trust to help its members—which collectively serve 500,000 low-income New Yorkers—adapt to this new landscape. Our grant is helping the Coalition and its members offer cost-effective and clinically sound services.

A student getting a check-up at school from Urban Health Plan’s Dr. Viju Jacob.
Photo courtesy of Urban Health Plan

School-based health centers provide low-income students with easy access to critical medical services, so they can manage chronic conditions, avoid emergency room visits, and improve their academic performance. Centers in city, Westchester, and Long Island public schools serve more than 150,000 students.

These centers need broad and comprehensive data to best serve children, and transition to managed care. In response, The Trust supported The New York School-Based Health Foundation to create a data hub and workshops for staff focused on managed care. Here, a Bronx student gets a check-up at school from Urban Health Plan’s Dr. Viju Jacob.