Neighborhoods First supports grassroots organizing in historically disinvested neighborhoods that now face the risk of displacement.
The Neighborhoods First Fund for Community-Based Planning (NFF) is a donor collaborative founded in 2015 to promote equitable, inclusive, and accountable development in New York City.
NFF believes that effective engagement by residents is essential if development is to truly serve the needs of all New Yorkers. We also see that engagement as a path to building the power of communities to create a just and sustainable New York City.
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If you are a funder and would like information about joining NFF, please contact Neighborhoods First’s Program Director Joan Byron.
How We Work
Neighborhoods First is co-chaired by Maria Mottola, Executive Director of the New York Foundation, and Kellie Terry, Program Officer, Sustainable Environments, at the Surdna Foundation. Members participate in grantmaking decisions under a collaborative agreement with the New York Foundation, which serves as NFF’s fiscal agent. NFF members also meet regularly with key field partners including grantees, policy leaders, City agency staff, and elected officials.
Neighborhoods First was established by seven banks and foundations in 2015 in response to concerns that rezoning would drive up land values and fuel displacement in low-income neighborhoods. As part of its initial work, NFF provided technical assistance and coalition building resources to help community based organizations advance more inclusive development policies and practices.
The Choices We Make documents the efforts of communities to engage with the City’s agencies on neighborhood-level rezonings. As the limitations of individual neighborhood by neighborhood rezoning campaigns became clear, residents have increasingly fought to advance more systemic policy changes to stem displacement, strengthen tenant protections, preserve public housing, and bring transparency and accountability to land use decisions. NFF’s now twelve funders have updated our grantmaking strategy to directly support that work.