10 NGOs in New York City That Make a Big Difference

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#1 Robin Hood

Robin Hood is the largest New York City’s poverty-fighting NGO, that provides around 200 other NGOs with management, financial and real estate support. Its mission is ‘’to improve the living standards for 1.8 million low-income work New Yorkers’’.

Every year, the Robin Hood keeps more than 200.000 New Yorkers from going hungry and helps nearly 11.000 to remain in stable housing and off the streets. Robin Hood partners up with NGOs and non-profit charities around the city helping them achieve success, as well as assisting them in issues they may encounter. In 2019, Robin Hood invested $129 million in 200 of the best poverty-fighting organizations. Even though its primary focus is on New York, the organization’s impact extends far beyond helping NGOs across the USA replicating successful programs in other US cities.

#2 Achievement First

Achievement First is a New York based NGO with a mission to ‘’deliver on the promise of equal education opportunity for all of America’s children’’. The organization operates with a network of 17 public charter schools serving more than 6.000 students in Brooklyn, New York.

The Achievement First started with the Amistad Academy that opened in 1999 and served 84 fifth and sixth new grades in New Haven. Presently, the Achievement First serves around 14.000 students in 37 schools in five communities in Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut. According to the organization, all of its students ‘’come through a blind lottery’’ and majority are Black and Latin coming from low income families and will be the first ones in their families to graduate from college.

#3 Accion

Accion is an NGO that helps small business owners achieve their dreams by providing them with small, fair and flexible loans, as well as connections to business experts, and access and opportunities tailored towards achieving their goals. The organization specifically aids minority and immigrant owned businesses.

Accion works hand in hand with small business owners and entrepreneurs helping them overcome obstacles that prevent them to achieve a thriving business. Through its loans, businesses generate incomes, create jobs, build assets and achieve financial success. The organization serves small business across the US and its network is made up of three certified Community Development Financial Institutions.

#4 Advocates for Children of New York

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) works with a mission to ‘’ensure a high-quality education for New York students who face barriers to academic success, focusing on students from low income backgrounds’’.

The AFC works through implementation of four integrated strategies. First, it provides free advice and legal representation for families of students. Its education specialists and lawyers have successfully helped thousands of families by providing this service, including representation at school related appeals and hearings. Second, the AFC provides free workshops and trainings for educators, parents and communities, teaching them to advocate on behalf of students. Third, the organization works on policy advocacy to improve education systems and achieve change, and last, but not least, it impacts litigation to protect the right to quality education and achieve education reform.

#5 Green Guerillas

Green Guerillas is an NGO that helps communities sustain community gardens, produces community harvests, and engages and educates youth. It helps community gardeners to engage more people in the harvest and extended the growing season.

Green Guerillas works directly in central Brooklyn, Harlem, and the South Bronx, when it distributed soil, lumber, herbs, and vegetable seeds to communities and helps them grow harvests of a variety of vegetables such as beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. It also helps youth to engage at the core of community gardening by including them in volunteer days, community arts activities, paid internships and small grants programs. The organization partners up with six New York City Council Members to strengthen the community gardening and make it sustainable.

#6 Asian Americas for Equality

Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) was formed in 1974 in New York City to advocate initially for equal rights of Asian Americans and all of those in need. However, throughout the years it has transformed ‘’to become one of New York’s preeminent housing, social service and community development organizations’’.

AAFE preserves affordable housing in New York and provides opportunities for immigrant communities. So far, the organization has preserved and developed 86 building and created more than 1.000 housing units. Also, it has secured around $416 million in mortgage financing for home buyers and disbursed more than $50 million in loans to hundreds of small businesses. It also provides education and training to empower people and employs advocacy and initiatives to influence government’s policies and achieve a positive change.

#7 Ariva

Ariva was established in 2003 with a mission to ‘’empower low wealth New Yorkers with effective tools and resources so they can make informed financial decisions and achieve economic stability’’. It offers free comprehensive financial capabilities and free income tax assistance in areas around New York City.

Ariva works on the principle ‘’that New York City neighborhoods should not be left vulnerable to predatory financial services simply because they are poor or because of the perception that it is less profitable to do business in lower income communities’’. Therefore, Ariva promotes innovation and inspires low income citizens in underserved community to successfully escape poverty and achieve a greater economic stability. The organization also provides services of financial education and counseling, asset building support, free tax preparation and assistance with public benefits access.

#8 Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground was formed around 30 years ago to end homelessness in New York. Its mission is to ‘’strengthen individuals, families and communities by developing and sustaining exceptional supportive and affordable housing as well as programs for homeless and other vulnerable New Yorkers’’.

The organization operates around 4.000 housing units across New York City, upstate New York and Connecticut. At these housing units, people can maintain their homes for the long term and in this way escape chronic homelessness. Besides providing housing, Breaking Ground also offers programs and services to help people experiencing homelessness on the street to come indoors, especially targeting those who have been on the streets the longest. Through its Street to Home Outreach Program, Breaking Ground helps people to get and stay on the path to a permanent home.

#9 City Harvest

City Harvest started as a food rescue movement in 1982 when a group of New Yorkers concluded that New York City had excess of food despite the fact that a large number of its citizens were struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Today, the City Harvest exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City. It does this through food rescue, distribution, education, and other innovative solutions. Its focus, from day one, has been to feed hungry New Yorkers and let neighbors help neighbors. The organization became one of the largest food rescue organizations feeding nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers. In 2020, the City Harvest plans to rescue 66 million pounds of food and deliver it to communities, soup kitchens and hundreds of food pantries.

#10 Lower East Side Ecology Center

The Lower East Side Ecology Center (LES Ecology Center) was established in 1987 with a mission to ‘’provide unique e-waste and composting services, environmental stewardship opportunities, and educational programming to all New Yorkers who want to learn about environmental responsibility for creating solutions through action.

The organization implements several programs to address environmental issues in New York City. in 2003, it started its Electronic Waste Program, through which it collects electronics by organizing weekend pop-up events throughout the city. It owns a 10.000 square meters E-Waste Warehouse, where it repurposes discarded e-waste for a new use.  Also, through its Environmental Education Program, the organization connects citizens of all ages with the urban environment and educates children about environmental impacts on everyday life. The LES Ecology Center leads the way in sustainability by developing community-based of urban ecology and advocating for green living in New York City.

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