The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College Announced as a Winner of the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Annual $100,000 Spark Prize

Awards Recognizes High-impact Community-based Organizations Across Brooklyn

BROOKLYN The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY (CLSJ) is proud to announce they have been selected to receive the Brooklyn Community Foundation‘s annual Spark Prize, the only honor of its kind celebrating excellence and impact in the borough’s thriving nonprofit sector.

CLSJ is one off five organization’s receiving the award, the Brooklyn Community Foundation announced Wednesday. Other winners of the prestigious award include: the Cave Canem Foundation, Exalt Youth (exalt), GRIOT Circle, and Red Hook Initiative.

Each of the five Spark Prize recipients will be awarded $100,000 in general operating support from Brooklyn Community Foundation. The organizations were selected from a competitive pool of over 130 applicants by a distinguished committee of 30 members representing Brooklyn’s civic, business, and philanthropic communities.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be selected as a winner of the Spark Prize Award”, said Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., founder and executive director of CLSJ. “It is our mission to advocate for and assist African descendant and disenfranchised communities on racial justice issues such as voter rights, educational inequity, police violence, as well as tackling issues that impact women of color, and this award will help us further that mission. We thank the Brooklyn Community Foundation President and their CEO Cecilia Clarke for their support and for helping social justice initiatives in Brooklyn.We also thank the Brooklyn community for their continued support.”

All winning organizations will be honored at the Spark Prize Celebration breakfast on Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 8-10AM at 501 Union, hosted by actress and comedian Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live, Lady Dynamite, A Christmas Story Live). The event will also pay tribute to Hildy J. Simmons, a philanthropic leader, former head of the Global Foundations group at J.P. Morgan, and longtime Board Member of Brooklyn Community Foundation, who initially conceived of the Spark Prize as part of the Foundation’s strategic relaunch in 2014.  

“It is such an honor to be selected for the Spark Prize alongside these amazing Brooklyn based organizations,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., general counsel at CLSJ. “In this time of political and social upheaval, it is empowering to know that institutions like the Brooklyn Community Foundation are ready and willing to provide support for groups that are engaged in protecting some of our most vulnerable populations.”

The Spark Prize is sponsored by TD Bank, with support from National Grid. It is presented by Brooklyn Community Foundation in partnership with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

The Spark Prize is named for Brooklyn Community Foundation’s mission to spark lasting social change in Brooklyn. The 2017-18 Spark Prize cycle launched in May 2017 with an open call to Brooklyn nonprofits to submit a 1,000-word essay demonstrating their deep history in Brooklyn and continued service to the borough; commitment to equity and racial justice for all Brooklynites; strong organizational values; and vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond. To be eligible, organizations had to have annual operating budgets over $350,000 and be in operation for at least five years. Applications were reviewed by the Spark Prize Committee, who narrowed submissions to 20 finalists, and then chose the five recipients following in-person interviews.


The Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ):The mission and vision of CLSJ is to provide quality advocacy, training, and expert services in a personal manner to people of African descent and the disenfranchised. CLSJ seeks to accomplish its mission by conducting research, and initiating advocacy projects and litigation on behalf of community organizations and groups that promote human, national, and international understanding. For additional information please visit:

About Brooklyn Community Foundation: Brooklyn Community Foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn. It is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community, working in partnership with generous donors and community leaders to bolster vital nonprofits, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunities for youth. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided over $30 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at

About the Spark Prize: The Spark Prize is named for Brooklyn Community Foundation’s mission to spark lasting social change and awards $600,000 annually to Brooklyn nonprofits. To apply for the Spark Prize, organizations submitted a 1,000 word essay demonstrating their deep history in Brooklyn; commitment to racial equity; strong values; and a dynamic vision for the future of their work in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at

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