Cricket Island Foundation awards $420,000 in grants to youth-led social change organizations in New York City

Today, the Cricket Island Foundation announced its newest cohort of seven grantee partners, all of which are youth-led social change organizations based in New York City. The Foundation will award general operating support grants to each organization for up to eight years to enable them to focus on capacity building and organizational development.

After completing a rigorous multi-stage application process, the grantees were selected based on their strong commitments to youth-led social change, grassroots community leadership, and organizational development.  Each group will receive a grant averaging 20% of their operating budget, for an average grant size of $60,000 per year over the next three years.  Grantees will then have an opportunity to renew funding for an additional five years, bringing the total commitment to building the field of youth-led social change work in New York to over $2.1mm.   These awards may be supplemented through the Foundation’s small grants program, which provides annual grants of $3,000-$8,000 for capacity building, learning opportunities, and other organizational development projects.

While the grantees are diverse in their sizes, constituencies, and overall missions, all have excelled in their work in youth leadership development, advocacy and policy reform, and collaborating with young people to identify and create solutions for issues in their communities.  The Foundation hopes that through their long-term partnership, the grantees will establish a learning community that will strengthen both their respective organizations and the field of youth-led social change.

“At a moment when social change organizations are struggling with new economic realities, the Foundation recognized the need for longer term investments which focused not on programmatic outcomes, but on strengthening organizations so they could, in turn, deepen their impact and continue to lead critical organizing and advocacy work.  We see these organizations as anchors in their communities and leaders in the field of youth-led organizing,” says Elizabeth Sak, Cricket Island Foundation’s Executive Director.  “We believe by strengthening these groups we are helping build the field.”

The grant recipients are as follows:

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

DRUM is a multi-generational, membership-led organization of 1400 low-wage South Asian immigrant workers, youth, and families organizing to win workers’ rights, legalization, access to education, and services.  The organization’s youth program, YouthPower!, builds the power of low-income South Asian and Muslim immigrant youth, and is currently working with the Immigrant Safe Zones Campaign, Dignity in Schools Campaign, and National Campaign for Quality Education.

Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE)

FIERCE was founded on the principle that LGBTQ youth must realize and manifest their own social and political power to change their conditions, shape their futures, and become effective agents of change in their communities.  The organization engages LGBTQ youth of color who are low income, at risk, and/or homeless in community organizing and collective action through leadership development and base-building.  FIERCE focuses specifically on changing issues facing LGBTQ youth of color, such as gentrification, discriminatory policing, and access to housing and social services.

Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project

Flanbwayan aims to enable Haitian newcomer students to play a more active role in their education, and to advocate for better education opportunities and outcomes for immigrant students.  The organization’s youth programs focus on improving academic achievement, developing leadership skills, and supporting newcomer youth in learning about their new communities and environment.

Make the Road New York (MRNY)

MRNY is a multi-service organization that builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and survival services.  The organization’s Youth Power Program provides a combination of community organizing and academic support its youth membership.  Their current campaigns focus on education reform, police accountability, and passage of the New York DREAM Act and DREAM Fund.

Mekong NYC

Mekong NYC is a community-based organization that aims to improve quality of life for the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx and throughout New York City through community organizing and healing.  The organization has a multigenerational leadership approach, and serves its community by promoting traditional arts and cultural practices, and advocating for and increasing access to essential social services.

Sistas and Brothas United (SBU)

SBU, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s (NWBCCC) youth organization, is a grassroots, membership-led organization of low- and moderate-income teenagers and high school students in the Bronx.  The organization is currently working to change New York City Department of Education policies to ensure that all students have access to a quality education that is both challenging and dignified.

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ)

YMPJ is a community-based organization that aims to rebuild the Bronx River and Soundview/Bruckner neighborhoods in the South Bronx by preparing young people to become prophetic voices for peace and justice.  YMPJ’s youth leaders are dedicated to making positive changes in their communities through campaigns focused on environmental justice, education reform, and public safety.

About Cricket Island Foundation

Cricket Island Foundation is a family foundation representing three generations. Founded in 2001, its mission is to develop the capacity and commitment of young people to improve their lives and communities, as well as the world around them. Recognizing that organizations need time and support to become stronger and more sustainable, in 2005 the Foundation began providing long-term general operating support to critical, yet under-funded, organizations that offer meaningful opportunities for youth to contribute to positive societal change. Additionally, though the Foundation provides funding nationwide, it made a strategic decision in 2008 to focus regionally in order to develop local organizations, build partnerships with and among grantees, and promote collaborations with local funders. For more information, please visit

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