The New York Community Trust was asked by RIOC to administer its
public purpose fund and to make sure the funding was awarded fairly
and has maximum impact for the community. We brought to this process
nearly a century of grantmaking expertise awarding nearly $5 billion
across the five boroughs as well as Long Island and Westchester,
working with thousands of nonprofits, large and small.
In addition to distributing the grants in an efficient and effective
manner, we want to help nonprofits submit strong applications with an
eye toward strengthening their internal processes so they can
flourish. But we know that our due diligence requirements may be new
to some. Toward that end, we also are providing a series of workshops
and coaching sessions for Roosevelt Island nonprofits on good
governance and financial practices led by an expert nonprofit
management provider. We hope that this workshop series and the
individualized assistance we are providing will help applicants emerge
stronger and better equipped to secure additional funding from new
We also hear the community’s concern about timeline. This program was
launched quickly with the goal to distribute grants as soon as
possible to organizations who rely on them. We understand that some
nonprofits may only have three board members currently. Therefore, we
are extending the date by which organizations must add a fourth member
to the end of the grant period, and are happy to work with nonprofits
on that effort over the course of the year.
We have reached out and given one-on-one technical assistance to past
grantees. We have created a streamlined and simplified payment process
that will lighten the administrative burden on nonprofits. We are
confident that the grants will support important work for Roosevelt
Island in the coming year. All Roosevelt Island nonprofits are welcome
to apply and we encourage them to do so.
What follows are The Trust’s comments regarding the itemized concerns
in the RIRA letter that the Islander shared with us (numbered for
1) The Trust emailed all past grantees that the grant opportunity was
open, and invited them to the informational webinar ten days prior to
2) We reached out to past grantees and have had one-on-one discussions
to ensure their questions were answered. We continue to be available
via phone and email to answer questions from all prospective
3) Having made thousands of grants to nonprofits of all sizes over the
years, The Trust staff believe that nonprofits should have diverse
funding sources to maintain their viability over the long term.
4) The Trust is not asking nonprofits to dismiss current board
members. While New York State requires nonprofits to have three board
members, the Better Business Bureau recommends five. In its
experience, The Trust understands that it can be challenging for
smaller nonprofits to recruit five, and therefore its requirement is
four board members. We are happy to work with nonprofits to achieve
this board expansion within the yearlong grant period, if that
nonprofit’s application is awarded. We believe the free nonprofit
workshops provided through this fund will additionally strengthen
governance practices for all organizations.
5) As part of the application materials, and in line with our standard
practice, we request a project-specific budget from applicants that
includes income and itemized expenses. We also request an overall
budget for the organization. A scholarship, for example, would be
itemized as an expense. Any nonprofit can address specific queries
with our staff.
6) The Trust is prioritizing grantmaking to nonprofits with budgets
below $10 million, which includes smaller nonprofits.
7) Because the grants are generally small, they cannot be used for
brick and mortar capital projects. However, equipment purchases, such
as a van, are an allowable project expense if they ensure a group can
deliver its service. If a nonprofit has any questions about specific
expenses, we are glad to speak with them.
8) This program will make project grants to both existing and new
programs. Nonprofits can submit applications for existing programs
that they have run in prior years. We additionally expect and
encourage nonprofits to include administrative or overhead expenses in
their project budgets.
9) The Trust believes that nonprofits, particularly smaller ones, can
best fulfill their missions when their administrative burden is
reduced. Best practice for grants of this size is to disburse grants
upfront in one payment, which helps nonprofits with planning and
cashflow. Grantees’ work will be monitored through a single, final
report at the end of the term of the grant. Trust staff conduct
additional financial due diligence reviews on the front end before
making a grant, rather than on the back end as may have been the past
10) The Trust has nearly a hundred years of experience working with
New York City community-based organizations. We have enlisted a review
committee composed of five Roosevelt Island community members who will
review every proposal and recommend grants to The Trust.
We encourage any nonprofits with questions to reach out to us, and to
review the Request for Proposals, to which we have recently added a
Frequently Asked Questions section.
and discussion of the Public Purpose Fund grants during March 2 RIRA
Common Council meeting Public Session.