Just months after receiving funding as part of the West Harlem Development Corporation’s first cycle of community grants, local nonprofits are raising even more money.
According to financial documents, organizations receiving grants from the WHDC—which was established in 2009 to distribute the $76 million in benefits that Columbia promised to Manhattanville residents under the Community Benefits Agreement—have managed to leverage their initial grants into a combined $2 million in additional donations from government and philanthropic sources.
The WHDC awarded an initial $2 million in grants to 83 local organizations during the first grant cycle in March. As a result, some of these nonprofits have been able to convince other potential donors that their programs are on stable financial ground, and therefore deserve more funding.
“We have to show foundations that there is commitment from the community,” said Elsia Vasquez, executive director of tenant advocacy nonprofit People Against Landlord Abuse & Tenant Exploitation Harlem. “We’re working with a foundation now, and when we told them we had this money, it made us look really good.”
Although P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. is still in the process of seeking out additional funding, some of the grant recipients have already solicited more money. Wayne Francis, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, said his organization had received $25,000 from the Hudson River Foundation to support an environmental education program for young people.
The money will help bolster two separate initiatives, Project Learn and First Bloom, which the Boys & Girls Club estimates will affect at least 50 children in West Harlem.
“Foundations want to see that you have received money from someone other than them before they give,” Francis said. “In some cases, you need that seed money just to demonstrate that someone took a chance on you, and that, I would say, is the byproduct of the [WHDC] grant.”
But it is not only the larger, more established nonprofits that have been able to cash in on their initial grants. The Maysles Institute, which received a grant to finance an educational program in cinema management, has since brought in roughly $30,000 from a variety of other donors, including $10,000 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Erika Dilday, executive director of the Maysles Institute, said local organizations such as the WHDC are uniquely equipped to give smaller nonprofits a fighting chance at outside funding because they understand the role certain organizations can play in the neighborhood.
“Once we got the program up and running, which the WHDC helped us do, we were able to get a few more grants,” Dilday said. “They’re really rooted in the community, so it’s easier to explain what we need.”
Sony donated a $6,000 high-tech camera to Maysles to help support the institute’s cinema management class, which provides résumé and recommendation assistance to local residents looking for careers in the arts.
All of the first-round grant recipients must file reports with the WHDC detailing their progress in order to receive full funding. In an interview on Monday, WHDC Executive Director Kofi Boateng said he had received about 25 reports, all of which indicated that organizations were on track to complete their projects.
The second round of grants will be announced during a ceremony at the Our Children’s Foundation on Thursday.