NBC 4 New York/WNBC, Telemundo 47/WNJU and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation announced Wednesday that eight local nonprofits will receive a total of $315,000 in Project Innovation grants.
The winning organizations feature programs that are addressing local community issues through innovative solutions in the areas of community engagement, culture of inclusion, next-generation storytelling and youth education and empowerment.
This is the fourth consecutive year that NBC 4 New York and Telemundo 47 along with the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation will recognize local nonprofits with Project Innovation grants.
“Our Project Innovation grant challenge winners have used a number of unique approaches to create new opportunities and achieve success. Their commitment to diversity and focus on service has also inspired positive change across the Tri-State. We are excited to support their good works and cannot wait to watch them grow and thrive in the years to come," said Eric Lerner, president and general manager of NBC 4 New York.
Project Innovation is presented by the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and NBC and Telemundo-owned stations located in 11 markets, including New York. The stations held community panels to review grant applications and select the final grant recipients. This year, the program funding increased in each participating market to $315,000 and to $3.475 million across the 11 markets.
“Each of our awardees have an admirable record of success. They are educators and job creators who have inspired our youth and strengthened so many local families – particularly in the communities that Telemundo 47 serves throughout the Tri-State area,” said Cristina Schwarz, president and general manager of Telemundo 47.
Local Project Innovation 2021 grant recipients include:
Serving Westchester County, NY Latino U College Access (LUCA) empowers low-income, first-generation Latino students on their journeys to and through college so they can fulfill their remarkable potential.
The Latino U Scholars program begins in junior year of high school when students are nominated by school counselors in partner school districts. Scholars are paired with highly trained volunteer College Coaches who provide intensive, individualized mentorship throughout the college admissions process to identify the best academic and financial fit schools. Once enrolled in college, students continue receiving culturally relevant, family-centered support throughout their college journeys, ensuring they persist and graduate career-ready. Funding would grow the Latino U Scholars model to serve an additional 30 students in Westchester County school districts with Latino student populations over 50%.
Based in Hunterdon County and serving the tri-state area, America’s Grow-a-Row grows, gleans, and gives healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to people struggling with food insecurity and provides supportive education for the people they serve.
America’s Grow-a-Row is a critical source of fresh produce for some of the largest hunger-relief agencies in the region, including the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and City Harvest in New York City. Funding will help America’s Grow-a-Row plant, harvest, and distribute more than 2 million pounds of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need through regional distribution and conduct 275 Free Farm Markets in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.
Based in New York City and serving cities nationwide, STEM From Dance (SFD) is the only organization of its kind utilizing dance as a culturally relevant tool to engage girls of color in STEM. SFD offers school residencies and summer programs that share the same rigorous dance and STEM curriculum.
Each program cycle, girls choreograph an original dance, enhanced with a technological component that they build and learn to code. Funding will enable SFD to serve an additional 50 children and teenagers this year.
Founded in 1995, You Gotta Believe focuses exclusively on finding permanent parents and families for kids in foster care with an expertise in working with young adults, teens, and pre-teens who are most in danger of aging out of the system alone. YGB serves the five boroughs of New York, Long Island, and Westchester.
The organization provides long-term support services, including proactive outreach, intensive in-person support services to families in crisis or vulnerable to crisis, support with foster care agencies through the adoption process, and support groups for both children and their adoptive families. Funding will support the long-term connection of another 10 children from foster care into permanent families.
Based in Morris County, Students 2 Science (S2S) empowers underserved students to pursue high demand 21st Century STEM careers by providing them with hands-on, immersive experiences through two state-of-the-art Technology Centers.
Their programs, both in-lab and virtual, are led by professional scientists and focus on increasing students’ understanding of STEM college and career tracks alongside building their content knowledge and technical skills. S2S has a formal partnership with the Newark Public Schools, the largest urban district in NJ.
Their corporate partners include Bayer, BMS, Merck, Novartis, PSEG, Panasonic, Sanofi and Thermo Fisher Scientific, among many others. S2S has reached over 100,000 students across NJ in the past 11 years. This funding will enable S2S to expand student outreach in school districts such as Paterson and Passaic.
Serving the five boroughs, City Parks Foundation’s Coastal Classroom program transforms New York City’s waterfront parks into sites for hands-on, experiential learning for low-income middle and high school students, free-of-charge for all.
Coastal Classroom participants explore waterfront ecology in-depth—from catch-and-release fishing and bird-watching to rowing, oyster monitoring, the human impacts on water-based habitats, threats to wildlife, and environmental stewardship throughout Kaiser Park and the adjacent Coney Island Creek, as well as Inwood Hill Park and the adjacent Hudson River.
Funding from the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation will support the education of 30 middle school students each at Kaiser Park and Inwood Hill Park during both fall 2021 and spring 2022, and up to 8 high school interns.
Based in Manhattan and serving the five boroughs, Educational Video Center (EVC) is a non-profit youth media organization that teaches documentary video and website production to young people from historically marginalized or low-income communities.
Funding will expand sponsored internships to 10 students and provide deeper mentorship opportunities further building career pathways and equity for underrepresented youth of color. Following graduation, the students will emerge with a documentary or a website, a portfolio and a resume to aid their entrance into the media field.
Based in Manhattan and serving the five boroughs, Salvadori’s STEAM in-school and after-school programs use real-world challenges to show students how math and science are relevant to their lives. They introduce students to the idea of further education and to occupations they may not have considered, encouraging their interest in STEAM-related fields in preparation for a successful career and a solid financial future.
Funding will expand Salvadori’s in-school and after-school STEAM learning for an additional 400 students, who will be delivered by trained educators and feature a curriculum with lesson plans, planning sessions with school staff, and all materials and supplies.
In addition to the tri-state, Project Innovation 2021 grants were presented to eligible nonprofits in select markets including Southern California (KNBC, KVEA), Chicago (WMAQ, WSNS), Philadelphia (WCAU, WWSI), Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS, KXTX), Boston (WBTS, WNEU, necn), Hartford, CT (WVIT, WRDM), Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV, WZDC), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ, WSCV), San Francisco Bay Area (KNTV, KSTS), and San Diego (KNSD, KUAN).
For a list of all Project Innovation 2021 winners, click here. Follow at @NBCUFoundation and #ProjectInnovation.