Thursday, March 05, 2015

Atlantic Yards/NetsDBNA Community Foundation emerges, with $5,000 grants for Brooklyn community groups (and some questions); applications due April 1

There's a new foundation associated with the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn project, as promised in the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signed in 2005.

The Atlantic Yards/Nets/DBNA Community Foundation is an initiative of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), the CBA signatory best known for its role distributing free tickets to Barclays Center events.

(It also administers the program in which community organizations get discount use of the arena. While organizations have been selected, no events have been announced.)

The new foundation will give grants of $5,000 to Brooklyn-based community organizations, which work under the following categories:
  • fostering economic self-sufficiency
  • prisoner re-entry initiatives
  • youth and child programs
  • health programs
  • environmental sustainability
Applications are due by 4/1/15, and grantees notified by 6/30/15. (The application is here.)

Details about the foundation murky

Nearly two months ago, on 1/6/15, I sent the DBNA questions, asking:
  • how many grants are expected to be given out, or what the upper limit would be? in other words, how much--or up to how much--does the foundation expect to distribute each year?
  • how long the foundation is expected to be operating? does it have an endowment (how much?), and will the grants be funded from the endowment's income, or will there be money transferred each year?
  • is the foundation funded by Forest City? the Nets? Greenland? all three?
  • who are the officers and directors of the foundation?
  • will the name of the foundation be tweaked to add or substitute Pacific Park?
  • are you planning any specific outreach regarding the foundation (beyond what's already on the web site/Facebook)?
Yes, I've written critically of the DBNA, which is led by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry of the House of the Lord Church, but those are basic FAQ-type queries that presumably they could answer on their website.

After all, Forest City Ratner has put its 20% of the Nets and 55% of the Barclays Center up for sale, and Mikhail Prokhorov is exploring the sale of his corresponding shares of the team and arena. So that raises a question about the foundation's longer-term prospects.

(Sharon Daughtry, the executive director of the DBNA, was recently named to the board of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, which strikes me as a conflict of interest. The fact that the DBNA is now involved in distributing money from the project developer compounds that. And there's still no Independent Compliance Monitor, required under the CBA, to report back on the fulfillment of obligations.)

The DBNA recently did post an FAQ, focusing on questions relating to such things as the application process, nonprofit status, and grant oversight. So they're certainly more open than, say, the shadowy Forest City Ratner Companies Foundation, which never had a website.

But we're still in the dark about who's involved.

The foundation purpose

Pointing to the five categories of grants announced by the DBNA,  I noted contrasts with those categories delineated in the CBA:
the purpose of the foundation shall be to fund sports programs in disadvantaged communities as well as to support non-profit community organizations, and to help fund DBNAs programs including special initiatives to work with the prison population, with a percentage set aside for people in crisis.
For example, there's no mention now of sports programs.

So I asked for an explanation of how the foundation's purpose has changed. That question is also pending.

Set up at MetroTech

Note that, while the foundation can be reached through DBNA offices at the House of the Lord Church, when it was organized, it told the Internal Revenue Service--according to the screenshot below from a philanthropy web site--that its address was at 1 MetroTech Center, 23rd Floor, which is Forest City Ratner's office.

A letter to potential applicants

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