Brownsville, Brooklyn

Grantee NameCommunity Solutions
Project Title: Brownsville Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative
Grant Amount: $350,000

Grantee Name: Community Solutions
Project Title: Improving the Health of Brownsville
Grant Amount: $225,000

Community Fast Facts
  • 78% of residents are black;
  • 36% of residents live below the federal poverty line;
  • 23.8% of public school children (K–8) were categorized as obese, and 30% of adults in the community are obese;
  • 44% of working-age residents are unemployed;
  • It has the largest concentration of public housing in the country;
  • It has 77 community gardens and 12 urban farms in the neighborhood; and
  • It is home to a 15,000-square-foot Planet Fitness gym that registered more than 2,500 members within the first three months of its grand opening.
 Project Goals
  • Increase access to healthy and affordable foods by engaging with and building the capacity of local businesses interested in selling healthy produce; and
  • Plan and implement resident-driven improvements to the physical environment, especially in public spaces and housing and community facilities.
What We’ve Achieved to Date

Healthy Foods:

  • Sold 35,000 pounds of local produce through two GrowNYC Youthmarkets (a network of urban farm stands operated by neighborhood youth and supplied by local farmers) and connected the Riverdale School with GrowNYC to pilot a produce stand led by parents and the Partnership for Children in the school;
  • Supported Project EATS, a program that works to transform underused spaces in working-class and low-income neighborhoods into sustainable, productive urban farms. Project EATS oversees one of the Brownsville Youthmarkets and operates the Farmacy program, which works with local health care providers to prescribe fresh produce to patients, who can then fill the prescriptions at a Project EATS garden or farm stand; and
  • Conducted outreach to businesses throughout the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District to connect them to the City’s Shop Healthy initiative.

Built Environment & Physical Activity:

  • Helped form a 30-member resident workgroup to advocate for residents’ desired renovations to be integrated into the City’s improvement plan for Betsy Head Park. In August 2016, Mayor de Blasio announced that Betsy Head Park would be among 5 City parks to receive $150 million in renovations funds ($30 million per park) to support improvements such as new hiking trails and sports fields;
  • Updated a health assets map (a visually engaging guide to healthy food options, fitness-friendly areas, and medical services within the neighborhood), and supported the New Yorkers for Parks’ initial physical assessment in preparation of a more detailed Open Space Index to identify all physical assets in Brownsville;
  • Hosted a ShapeUp Instructor training for more than 50 Brownsville residents in partnership with the Brownsville Recreation Center and organized the Brownsville Youth Sports Zone Initiative, a 5-week basketball clinic for youth ages 6–14 in Betsy Head Park; and
  • Published a policy brief with recommendations for using strategies on affordable housing design to increase the physical activity of residents and improve their health, including on a newly constructed development in Brownsville.

Community Engagement:

  • Hosted a series of events to bring residents together for activities, information on community resources, and feedback/ideas on priorities for Brownsville and community concerns.

What We’re Investing In
Bunches of carrots and beets on a table at a farmers market; a hand reaches in to grab a beet.