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A consortium of 21 local and national foundations and corporations has pooled more than $8 million to provide New York City's community-based housing and development groups with new, large operating support grants.

Beginning this fall, the Neighborhood 2000 Fund, chaired by Gary Hattem of Bankers Trust Company and administered by the New York Community Trust, will give grants amounting to as much as $300,000 per community group over four years to at least 25 organizations. The fund will release a request for proposals this week and the deadline for submissions is October 24.

The funding pool's founders include Hattem, Steve Flax of M&T Bank and Anita Nager of the Community Trust. “Many of the original funders started or worked for CDCs and understand they are at a critical juncture in their evolution,” said Nager, noting recent dramatic changes in government housing and social programs. “We thought this was an opportunity to bring in new sources of money from national foundations who could not support individual groups but would be attracted by a pooled fund in their hometown, and from corporations who had not traditionally supported community development but were interested from a business point of view in strengthening New York neighborhoods.”

The grants will allow groups to pursue strategic planning, organizational and staff development, community organizing and other projects–or to simply pay for basic overhead expenses.

Nager said the fund hopes to raise a total of $15 million and aims to eventually make 50 of the four-year grants. In addition to the Community Trust, Bankers Trust and M&T Bank, participants include J.P. Morgan, Republic National Bank, Uris Brothers Foundation, Chase Manhattan, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and other longtime supporters of community groups–and Nager says all of these funders plan to maintain their independent giving programs as well. But others in the funding pool–Fuji Bank and Trust, Bank of China and the Wolfensohn Family Foundation among them–are newcomers to the CDC field.

For a copy of the Neighborhood 2000 Fund RFP, call Norma Rollins at the New York Community Trust, (212) 686-0010, ext. 602.