2017-18 Winners

Brooklyn Community Foundation is pleased to announce the five organizations selected to receive its 2017-18 Spark Prize, the only honor of its kind celebrating excellence and impact in Brooklyn’s thriving nonprofit sector.

Each of the five Spark Prize recipients will get $100,000 in general operating support from Brooklyn Community Foundation. The organizations were selected from a competitive pool of over 130 applicants by a distinguished committee of civic, business, and neighborhood leaders all hailing from Brooklyn. The Spark Prize Committee narrowed applications to 20 finalists, and then chose the five recipients following in person interviews with finalists.


2017-18 Spark Prize Recipients



Founded in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of black poets, Cave Canem has grown from a gathering of 26 poets to become an influential movement and artistic incubator based in Brooklyn with a high-achieving international fellowship of over 425, and a local workshop community of over 900 poets. Annually, Cave Canem produces poetry readings, writing workshops, lectures, special events, retreats for emerging poets, anthology publications, and a first- and second-book poetry prize.



Founded in Brooklyn in 1985 as a community service unit of Medgar Evers College to serve as an institutional response to pervasive racial injustices, the Center for Law and Social Justice continues pushing for meaningful policy changes to stem the institutionalization of police brutality and systemic racism across New York City. In addition to promoting alternative community policing solutions, it is a leading advocate for the protection and integrity of voting rights and for racial equity in public education. CLSJ projects include providing free legal consultations, issuing policy recommendations, engaging in research, and fostering grassroots organizing.



Since its founding in 2006 in Brooklyn, exalt has worked with over 1200 youth ages 15-19 who have been involved in the criminal justice system. exalt equips youth with tools and experiences to avoid further criminal justice system involvement through structured classes for tangible skill development, individualized support to navigate the education and justice systems, placement in paid internships, and an alumni network of resources. Only 2% of program graduates have been re-convicted within 2 years; by comparison, 40% of youth released from New York juvenile detention return in 2 years.



Founded in 1996 by a group of LGBTQ elders of color living in Brooklyn to address the systemic racial, social, and economic injustices that LGBTQ elders of color experience, GRIOT Circle now offers culturally-sensitive, innovative programming to over 400 members throughout the year, including case management services, a daily hot lunch, psycho/educational and recreational programs, a “Buddy-2-Buddy” program through which over 75 volunteers provide members with an array of services and mutual support, and New York City’s only HIV support group for men over 50.



Founded in 2002 as a program of a local hospital in response to the severity of health and social issues in Red Hook, RHI has become a neighborhood stronghold and nationally recognized model for youth and community development, providing safe and enriching opportunities for young people ages 11- 24 primarily living in the Red Hook Houses—New York City’s largest NYCHA housing development. Youth development, community building, and community hiring—90% of staff is from the neighborhood—form the core of RHI’s approach to strengthening Red Hook’s future.

Photo Credit: Jeyhoun Allebaugh/Inspired Storytellers Collective

2017-18 Spark Prize Finalists

After Hours Project
Arab American Family Support Center
Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Black Women’s Blueprint
Brooklyn Community Housing and Services
Girls For Gender Equity
Grow Brooklyn
El Puente
Participatory Budgeting Project
Red Hook Community Justice Center
Southside United HDFC – Los Sures
United Community Centers
Weeksville Heritage Center

Finalists for the Spark Prize were each eligible for a $5,000 matching grant from Brooklyn Community Foundation through #BrooklynGives, a 24-hour local giving campaign tied to Giving Tuesday—the annual global day of giving observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. From midnight to 11:59PM on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, more than 1,221 donors supported the 20 Spark Prize finalists, raising over $365,000 and maximizing the Foundation’s $100,000 match at www.BrooklynGives.org.

#BrooklynGives is generously supported by TD Bank and National Grid, and presented in partnership with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.