BP STRINGER RELEASES LIST OF FY 2013 COMMUNITY GRANTS RECIPIENTS – HAILS NEWAND UNPRECEDENTED PROCESS OF DISTRIBUTING FUNDS TO NON-PROFITS AS A CITYWIDE MODEL
Praises independent panels convened by his office that screened applications and allocated funds based on the merits, not politics
July 6, 2012 (New York, NY) – Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer today released a list of 167 non-profit organizations that will receive funding through his office’s new Manhattan Community Grants Program. The funding decisions for FY 2013 were made by five independent panels convened by his office, and they mark the first time that a New York City elected official has fundamentally reformed the process by which public discretionary funds are allocated to non-profit groups.
Under a new system launched this year, Borough President Stringer created specialized panels to review all applications for expense funding received by his office and empowered them to make recommendations for funding under the new Community Grants Program. These five-member panels voted on allocations to be administered by the Departments of Education, Aging, Parks and Recreation, Corrections and Health.
They were composed of knowledgeable experts in their respective fields, representatives of City Council members and Community Boards. The City Council participants represented members who either chair or are members of the Council committees that focus on these five areas. The goal was to create a serious, deliberative process that focused strictly on the merits of each proposal.
“We must always remember that budgetary decisions have a profound impact on the many neighborhoods and communities of our City, not to mention the daily lives of 8.1 million New Yorkers,” Stringer said. “The distribution of member items affects thousands of non-profit organizations that are struggling to make ends meet, and on whom countless New Yorkers rely for services–from parks and recreation to education, health and aging programs. For many of these groups the decision to grant public funding, or withhold support, can spell the difference between a thriving program and one forced to shutter its doors. How well we allocate these funds are some of the most important choices elected officials will ever make.”
All told, the Manhattan Borough President’s office awarded 167 grants this year, totaling $911,298, after reviewing 232 applications. Out of 43 new applicants, 20 received funding. A complete list of the grantees can be found here.
Previously, these funding reviews and recommendations were made in-house by the Borough President and staff. Upon taking office in 2006, Stringer launched initiatives to open up and democratize the way his office dispenses member items. Beginning in 2006, he empanelled various departments within his office—including Policy, Community Affairs and Budget—to review applications and recommend funding for groups that served the community, had measurable results and could demonstrate programmatic excellence. In addition, Stringer was among the first elected officials to post online the names of organizations that not only received funding, but had applied as well.
“These new Community Grants are another major step toward ensuring discretionary funding is distributed in a fair, merit-based process – and they could be a model for citywide reform,” Stringer said. “I want to thank our partners in the City Council who helped make this initiative a success, including Council Members Jessica Lappin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Elizabeth Crowley, Inez Dickens and Robert Jackson.”
The Borough President noted that there have been successful efforts in recent years to increase transparency. Several good government groups, including Citizens Union and Common Cause among others, have made thoughtful recommendations for increased objectivity in decision-making and other reforms. Stringer also commended Mayor Bloomberg and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin for creating an exemplary process in which funding decisions for cultural programs are based on panel recommendations. Stringer said his office carefully studied this process—in which his staff participates—when creating his own Community Grants panels.
“I found the process to be informative, relevant and eminently fair,” said Alfred Siegel, Deputy Director of the Center for Court Innovation, who served on the Department of Corrections panel. “The panelists endeavored to be as impartial as they possibly could.”
“I was honored to participate in the Manhattan Borough President’s first Parks and Recreation Community Grant review panel,” said Barbara Nikonorow, founder of the 137th Street Beautification Project. “It was a fascinating experience in negotiation and I commend Borough President Stringer for taking this refreshing and inspired approach.”
Each panel participated in a three-step screening process, beginning with a pre-review of applications. During their first meeting, panelists rated each proposal. In a second meeting they determined funding based on a formula each group decided on its own.
Information on the office’s new Manhattan Community Grants Program, including background on the panelists and the results of their work, can be found on a newly constructed Manhattan Borough President’s Budget TranspareNYC website.
Contact: Audrey Gelman (212) 669-8143, (347) 534-6069