Neighborhood Strength 2016-17

Crown Heights Fund for Community Public Space

Crown Heights is a dynamic, culturally rich neighborhood in the heart of Brooklyn. Over the decades, diverse communities have endured and thrived through struggles for better public services and schools, cross-racial tensions, and the recent onslaught of gentrification and development. Crown Heights’ vibrant civic infrastructure is a proven tool for residents in building strong community partnerships, resilient local economies, and sustainable community spaces and culture. Through Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Neighborhood Strength model, we seek to strengthen this infrastructure by galvanizing the expertise of residents and position them as key decisions makers.

Launch our Neighborhood Strength interactive site to learn more about our process and grantees



Neighborhood Visioning Sessions were the cornerstone of the Neighborhood Strength model, designed to bring together diverse community voices. Over the course of seven months, the Foundation hosted three public visioning sessions to identify top concerns and resident-led solutions. Over 130 community members participated in the sessions, which were open to all Crown Heights residents. Top concerns centered on displacement of long-term residents; new real estate development that do not reflect community history and culture; increased economic pressures on working class communities and the role of new residents; lack of enrichment opportunities for youth; and the impact of local policing on communities of color. Solutions to these concerns, as identified during the visioning sessions, focused on ideas for acculturating new residents to the neighborhood social norms; support for small local businesses; a need for shared inclusive public space; and access to more green space.

A new Crown Heights Advisory Council was created, which included visioning session participants. The Council took the proposed solutions, analyzed them for feasibility, and created a concrete investment plan that can serve as a blueprint for implementation.


The Advisory Council identified Community Public Space as an investment goal for 2017, with the aim to address the challenge of limited access to inclusive space for community engagement among residents in Crown Heights. By supporting the creation of inclusive space(s) for the community, the Foundation hopes to strengthen inter-group relations and provide opportunities for residents to address urgent community issues.


Brooklyn Community Foundation is requesting proposals from nonprofit organizations and community-based groups, with a demonstrated track record in creating and providing inclusive community spaces, to design a program that would make existing spaces accessible to community members.

Organizations may work with their existing spaces or broker relationships with small businesses, community centers, churches, and nonprofits to build their capacity to expand the use of spaces. The Foundation will support advocacy efforts for the creation of new spaces. A significant component of this work must include inclusive outreach strategies to reach the priority communities.


  • March 21, 2017 − Online Application Deadline 
  • April 3-5, 2017 − InterviewsPlease note that 30 minute interviews for selected proposals will take place at the Foundation’s offices, with the Foundation staff and Advisory Council members
  • May 2017 − Grant Announcement

Applicants can request funding between $10,000- $50,000.

The Community Public Space program must:

  • Be accessible to geographic demographics that are in the underserved parts of Crown Heights;
  • Address how the availability and program planning is attracting new people not already reached;
  • Have a movement-building vision to connect residents from different backgrounds;
  • Address concerns and challenges raised through the process;
  • Consider partnerships and collaboration with local entities like small businesses, community centers, churches, and nonprofits;
  • Be open to a variety of uses for the community such as community gatherings, meetings, public health services, art programming or organizing campaigns;
  • Have a clear long-term sustainability strategy.

The funding will not support existing organizational programming unless the proposal includes strategies to expand it to priority communities not previously served, by giving access to new space, extended hours, or new programs.

The public space should prioritize these communities:

  • Marginalized residents who feel alienated by changes ushered in by gentrification;
  • Young people in need of places to hang out safely with their peers;
  • Elders seeking a place to socialize and spend time with their peers and participate in educational and recreational programs;
  • Community organizers who want to gather with like-minded people to address urgent community concerns;
  • Community Health Educators addressing public health issues;
  • Entrepreneurs, cultural workers, artisans, and makers seeking community and space to exchange skills and goods.

** We define Crown Heights using boundaries set by the NYC Department of Planning, which include Community District 8 (Crown Heights North) and Community District 9 (Crown Heights South).