Citizens Committee is Turning Community Dreams Into Reality

by Maya Vesneske
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Citizens Committee for New York City

What they do: Citizens Committee for New York City is one of the nation’s oldest micro-funding organizations, awarding grants to resident-led volunteer groups carrying out a wide variety of community improvement projects, from creating new community gardens to tenants organizing drives. The organization also offers capacity building workshops and project planning assistance to support groups with their community improvement initiatives.

How they do it: Citizens Committee offers micro-grants for community building projects. The funds come from a combination of private foundations, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. Citizens Committee takes care of raising the money so small neighborhood groups can focus on their work. Among the types of groups Citizens Committee supports are community gardens, food stands, and nutrition education programs. Their grants include:

  • Neighborhood Grants (first established in 1975) support community a wide array of building projects in low-income neighborhoods. Projects range from community gardening to after-school yoga.
  • Public School Green Team Grant, a partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, supports environment-focused projects in public schools, especially recycling and waste reduction.
  • Love Your Block Grant, a partnership with NYC Service supports block beautification projects combined with expedited city services. Projects range from tree bed plantings to clearing vacant lots.
  • Compost Grant, a partnership with the Manhattan Borough President’s Solid Waste Advisory Board, supports the creation or expansion of community compost projects to direct waste away from landfills.
  • Reuse and Repair Grant, a partnership with the Manhattan Borough President’s Solid Waste Advisory Board, supports projects that divert waste from landfills by fixing, repairing, and reusing rather than trashing.
  • Chelsea and Hudson Yards Innovation Grants, a partnership with the West Side Community Fund, support projects in the Chelsea and Hudson Yards neighborhoods involving youth, seniors, and under-served residents.

Mission: Their mission is simple: to help New Yorkers—especially those in low-income areas— improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Their goal is to help communities become greener, friendlier and more resilient.

Latest project/campaign: Most recently, Citizens Committee has been reviewing applications for community improvement projects to receive one of their $3,000 Neighborhood Grants, as well as leading community organizing workshops around the city.

Major Funding:TD Bank; Bloomberg Philanthropy; Bank of America; Citi; ConEdison; Weil, Gotshal, & Manges; National Grid Foundation; HSBC; Wells Fargo; Staten Island Foundation; The Booth Ferris Foundation; The New York Women’s Foundation; The John A. Reisenbach Foundation; Bloomingdale’s; DLA Piper; Alcoa; Allied World Assurance Company; Davis Polk; Houlihan Lokey; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Alvarez & Marsal

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $3 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: 76 percent of the projects that they fund are led by women. Additionally, 54 percent of their projects take place in areas with low food security, and this number is growing.


Location: 77 Water Street, Suite 202, New York, NY 10005

Core Programs:Neighborhood Grants, Compost Grant, Reuse and Repair Grant, Love Your Block Grant, Green Team Grant, Neighborhood Leadership Institute Workshop Series, Project Planning Assistance.

Number of staff: 12

Community members (approx.): Citizens Committee awarded nearly 600 grants for community improvement projects in 2018. Each project mobilized an average of 20 neighborhood residents.

Areas served: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens

Year Started: 1975

Director: Peter H. Kostmayer

Contact Information: (212) 989-0909;


Image retrieved from Citizens Committee for New York City’s Facebook

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