Annual Report 2020 - The New York Community Trust

Annual Report 2020
Meeting the Moment



There are heroes in every crisis, from medical personnel in a public health emergency to rescue workers in a hurricane. Whenever the New York region faces a crisis, our donors step up to help their neighbors. Time and again, these hometown heroes meet the moment.

Some donors have also paid it forward by looking to the future. They have made the decision to make a lasting difference for their community by creating a permanent fund in The New York Community Trust. Some put The Trust in their wills, others stipulate that their current funds be managed by The Trust long after they are gone. Over the years, the funds from these donors have given us ready resources to quickly address emergencies, no matter how unforeseen.

To celebrate the vision and caring spirit of these generous New Yorkers, we have created the Legacy Society.



The stories that you read in this report are a result of The Trust connecting generous donors and grantees doing critical work. We are honored to create these connections and grateful to all who make this a stronger, safer, and more welcoming community.

A letter from President Lorie Slutsky and Board Chair Valerie Peltier on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we’re bringing communities together to make life better in New York. Read below.

The Trust is always ready for a crisis—from the recent COVID-19 response to as far back as the Great Depression. Because generations of New Yorkers have left legacy gifts in The Trust to help after they are gone, we have funding in hand when calamity strikes. Read how The Trust has helped our community for almost 100 years.

Our grants have helped New Yorkers through COVID-19, bolstered the fight for justice, provided young people with opportunities, and more. You’ll be inspired by the promising programs.

For decades, we’ve brought funders together to address the challenges facing our region. By pooling dollars in collaborative funds, donors can take on larger agendas or longer-term challenges than they could on their own.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit New York hard, but it also has been met with profound generosity. Read how we created response funds that pooled contributions from more than 1,700 donors and made nearly 1,000 grants, totaling $95.2 million.

Meet some of our incredible donors who have found joy through giving back and find out about the many ways to give at The Trust.

Our Legacy Society brings together donors who want to make a permanent impact on the causes they care about the most. Read more information about how to build your legacy.

Since 1924, we’ve been working with lawyers and financial advisors to help their clients with philanthropy. Let us help you. Read how we can help your clients.

Our board members ensure that The Trust fulfills its mission to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Meet the members.

See our financial highlights, and our complete audited 2020 Financials.

View a full list of funds in The New York Community Trust, Long Island Community Foundation, and the Westchester Community Foundation.

View a list of organizations that received more than $25,000 in 2020—including competitive grants recommended by our staff, and those suggested by advisors of individual funds.

Babou Gaye sits in front of a sign that says,
DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC: Babou Gaye began his advocacy and activism when he joined the Trust-supported New York Civil Liberties Union's Teen Activist Project. Photo by Ari Mintz


A Year Like No Other

By the middle of March 2020, the New York City region was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Emergency rooms were overwhelmed, medical professionals searched for effective treatments, and the death toll continued its frightening climb. Midtown emptied, along with our subways, buses, and storefronts. The lights on Broadway went dark, schools closed, and the melodious cacophony that is New York went quiet.

In a matter of days, COVID-19 forced people to rethink how to live, work, and learn. The radical changes in the daily lives of New Yorkers pushed the demand for the services of our legendary nonprofit sector to unprecedented levels. The incredible response by these groups, despite their move to remote operations and the specter of lost funding, is deeply humbling.

As we have for almost one hundred years, The New York Community Trust responded to this crisis with immediate, powerful, and thoughtful solutions. The Trust’s experiences following September 11th and superstorm Sandy showed us the power of collaborating with other philanthropies and nonprofits to amplify our work. The day New York State went “on pause,” The Trust announced the creation of the collaborative NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund. We raised $73 million, and in a matter of weeks, made 764 grants to regional nonprofits as they navigated the myriad consequences of the virus. Our Long Island and Westchester divisions hosted relief funds to help address their urgent local needs. All of these grants gave groups a lifeline and the ability to react swiftly to the crucial needs in our community.

The consequences of the pandemic brought to the foreground long-simmering inequities in our city. Among those hardest hit by the virus were Black and Latinx New Yorkers, people with disabilities, and older adults. Low-wage workers were more likely to be exposed to the virus in factories, service businesses, and medical facilities, or lose their jobs entirely. The deaths of Black Americans by police sparked outrage across the country and renewed calls for racial justice in our city. The Trust continued its strong support of grantees working to rid New York of deeply rooted systemic inequities, from criminal justice and healthcare to education and affordable housing.

As the city’s shutdown continued through the year, residents experienced months of anxiety, isolation, and slowed economic activity. We are grateful to our donors, who contributed to help their most vulnerable neighbors and the organizations that worked tirelessly to serve them. We must also remember The Trust’s response to this year’s complex challenges would not have been possible without the generosity of New Yorkers whose charitable legacies are still helping succeeding generations. The potent combination of new support from our donors and income from our permanent funds allowed The Trust to help grantees tackle their additional demands, including getting meals to the homebound and recently unemployed, keeping students connected to school, and tending to New Yorkers’ mental health.

Welcome signs of hope are all around us as we write this retrospective on a difficult year. Vaccination rates are accelerating and their supply is on the rise. We have a lot of work to do, but we are committed and inspired by the compassion demonstrated daily this past year. We are confident the city will recover—and The New York Community Trust will continue to provide its patient but persistent support of our beloved and courageous hometown.

"We raised $73 million, and in a matter of weeks, made 764 grants to regional nonprofits as they navigated the myriad consequences of the virus."
– Chair Valerie S. Peltier and President Lorie A. Slutsky

Feature Story: Meeting the Moment
A wave in the New York Harbor during superstorm Sandy. Photo by Getty Images

Feature Story: Meeting the Moment

For Every Crisis, The Trust is There

When the attack on the World Trade Center came out of a perfectly blue sky on the morning of September 11th, 2001, the city plunged into crisis. Nearly 3,000 people died, millions faced uncertainty, the region came to a stunned halt.

“As the enormity of what had happened sunk in,” recalled Lorie Slutsky, president of The New York Community Trust, “all of us were shocked and saddened, but we all had the same thought: ‘How can we help?’”

As emergency workers were still rushing downtown to the smoking rubble, the staff of The Trust gathered in its midtown office, joined forces with the United Way, and created the September 11th Fund, which continued to address the repercussions for four years.

That same spirit drove our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trust’s ability to respond to these and other crises that have periodically shaken New York since our creation in 1924 is in our DNA and has been honed through the decades. There is power in numbers. The Trust has built relationships over the decades with philanthropies, individual donors, and nonprofits that allow us to multiply our potential impact by creating working partnerships in a moment of crisis.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the region in early 2020, The Trust and its suburban divisions quickly formed funds in collaboration with other donors—corporations, foundations, and individuals—to marshal aid to nonprofits unprepared for the disruptions to the economy and life as we knew it.

The Trust and its philanthropic partners announced the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund and issued a request for proposals from front-line nonprofits the same day the state was put “on pause.” Within a week, the Fund made its first grants. The Fund soon raised $73 million for grants from more than 1,300 donations for small and medium-sized nonprofits working in the human services and the arts and cultural sectors (another $37 million went out in no-interest loans through the Nonprofit Finance Fund).

Continue Reading "Meeting the Moment"
“We are grateful to know that we do not face this crisis alone, and that you are with us. We are confident that we will see the other side of the pandemic, and that we will rise stronger than before.”
– Jonelle Procope, President and CEO, Apollo Theater

Additional sections

See more content from the Annual Report.

Grants in Action
Grants in Action

Addressing Racial Disparity

While we are proud of the progress we have helped foster, we are keenly aware that there is much more to be done. In this “Grants in Action” section, you can read about some of the grants The Trust made with our Emergency Fund and income from our permanent funds in 2020. We hope you will get a sense of the breadth of our work and the many solutions we are supporting across issues ranging from healthcare and education to the region’s environment and community development. Meet some of our grantees.

A father plays with his child in the park.
Become a Donor

Champion the Causes and Communities You Care About

Easy & Flexible: You decide what to give, how much to give, and what to name your fund. Most funds can be started with just a letter of agreement or a single paragraph in a will.

Tax-Efficient Investment: Choose from our investment options and grow your fund tax-free over time. Because The New York Community Trust is a public charity, donors get the maximum benefit allowed by law.

Powerful Impact: Whether it is protecting the environment, improving education, fighting poverty, or supporting the arts, you can be assured that giving through The Trust helps you maximize your charitable impact.

Our experts know nonprofits and make sure grants from your fund go to well-managed, effective organizations doing work that makes a difference. Learn how to become a donor.

Aerial sunrise view of Manhattan in golden light.
For Attorneys & Financial Advisors

Let Us Help You Help Your Clients

During the estate planning process, clients often involve their lawyer or financial advisor to help them shape their charitable giving, but ultimately clients need to decide what causes are important to them, how they want to structure their giving, and whether they want to involve family members.

It can be a sensitive and complicated process, but The Trust is uniquely suited to help you and your clients successfully navigate it.

Since 1924, we’ve been working with lawyers and financial advisors to help their clients with philanthropy. The Trust is the right choice for thousands of generous New Yorkers because of our staff of experts, range of giving options, capacity to accept complicated assets, knowledge of community needs, and efficient management. Find out how we can help your clients.

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Meet Our Board

Leading Us Forward

Our board members ensure that The Trust fulfills its mission to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

Twelve dedicated New Yorkers—selected for their judgment, integrity, and understanding of philanthropic needs—serve as both the Distribution Committee of The Trust and as the Board of Directors of Community Funds, Inc. Meet our board.

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In the News

The Trust was featured in many news outlets. We featured some of these clips in our Annual Report. See the articles here.

Download the Annual Report

Download the 2020 Annual Report

NYCT Annual Report 2020 cover and inside pages