Brooklyn Community Foundation Announces Prison Divestment

Today, Brooklyn Community Foundation announces that it will formally divest from private prisons, gun manufacturers, and predatory lenders in alignment with its commitment to advancing racial equity across all facets of its institution. The divestment decision was approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors in September.

“Racial equity is core to our vision of a fair and just Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Private prisons, gun manufacturers, and predatory lenders are three industries that have had a devastating impact on communities of color and low income communities in our borough and across our nation. This decision is critical to the Foundation’s ability to fully pursue its mission, and it will hopefully serve as a call to other institutions to do the same.”

Founded in 2009, and created out of the legacy of Independence Community Bank, Brooklyn Community Foundation is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to New York City’s largest borough. It works in partnership with generous donors to bolster Brooklyn’s charitable community and spark lasting social change. The Foundation’s current investment portfolio is valued at approximately $60 million and is overseen by the Investment Committee of its Board of Directors. The divestment from private prisons, gun manufacturers, and predatory lenders is effective immediately. There is no anticipated impact on portfolio performance due to this change in investment policy.

“I am proud of the hard work the Foundation’s Board and staff have undertaken to strengthen our institution,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation Board Chairman Alan Fishman. “Our Board has a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the financial resiliency of the Foundation, but we also have a responsibility to embody the values of Brooklyn’s communities. This critical divestment decision is a milestone for us on our journey to align our values and mission with the complete scope of our operations. We look forward to continuing to be responsive to the needs of our communities today and the challenges facing generations to come.”

The Foundation adopted an institution-wide Racial Justice Lens in 2014 following a 6-month, 1,000-person boroughwide engagement project that resulted in a new community-led strategy focused on Youth, Neighborhoods, Nonprofits, and Racial Justice. Steered by an Advisory Council of national and local experts, the Foundation’s Racial Justice Lens ensures that the lasting effects of deeply rooted racial inequities in Brooklyn are considered in every area of its operations—including grantmaking, governance, and advocacy

“Simply put, too many Americans still find themselves facing discrimination based on race,” added Eric Ward of the Foundation’s Racial Justice Advisory Council. “The decision by Brooklyn Community Foundation to divest from businesses profiting from racial inequality, violence, and division is profound and powerful. I celebrate the Foundation’s choice in bringing its full resources to bear in the building of inclusive communities grounded in opportunity and fairness. Its accountable leadership on racial equity further underscores the continued evolution of Brooklyn Community Foundation as a borough and metropolitan groundbreaker.”

The Foundation has deployed more than $25 million in grants to nonprofits since 2009 through its Community Fund and Donor Advised Fund programs. Its signature initiative, Invest in Youth, is focused on opportunities and outcomes for youth of color in Brooklyn and seeded the groundbreaking Brooklyn Restorative Justice Project to develop a new model for discipline in New York City schools. Additionally, the Foundation has launched a resident-led grantmaking program to invest in under resourced communities of color in Brooklyn, and has provided free Racial Justice trainings for nonprofit leaders through its Brooklyn Accelerator initiative. In the next year, the Foundation will establish a Girls of Color Fund and a Racial Equity Fund to offer Brooklyn donors a way to directly support programs and advocacy efforts that advance racial equity in Brooklyn.

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About Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn. It is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community, working in partnership with generous donors and community leaders to bolster vital nonprofits, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunities for youth. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided over $25 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond through its Community Fund and Donor Advised Fund programs. Learn more at www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.

Media Contact:

Liane Stegmaier, Director of Communications
718.480.7503, lstegmaier@bcfny.org

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