standard Bed-Stuy Foundation Hosts Star-Studded Benefit

(Photo by Matthew Taub)

From left: Kevin Chavers, Christopher J. Williams, Janice Savin Williams, Maurice DuBois, Spike Lee, Rosie Perez, Bruce Gordon, and Colvin Grannum (Photo by Matthew Taub)

The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation hosted the Restore Brooklyn Annual Benefit Dinner at the Time Warner Center Monday evening, honoring Rosie Perez, the Honorable William Thompson Sr. and Bruce Gordon with a special performance by Grammy Award-winning R&B singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele. The evening’s presenters included director Spike Lee.

The 2014 Restore Brooklyn Annual Benefit Dinner highlighted the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Economic Solutions Center, which integrates job training, education programs, social services and financial counseling to support and strengthen the community.

Chrisette Michele (left) performed and Bill Thompson, Sr. (center) was honored (Photo by Matthew Taub)

Chrisette Michele (left) performed and Bill Thompson, Sr. (center) was honored (Photo by Matthew Taub)

“Over the course of 47 years, we’ve been a leader in the community development field, creating affordable housing, putting people to work, and helping people manage their money,” said Colvin W. Grannum, President of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “The whole idea is to help people build themselves and build their community.”

The three honorees were individuals who symbolized and personified the characteristics of restoration: Judge Thompson was a pioneering African American politician and jurist; Rosie Perez emerged from a broken home to emerge as a star of stage, television, and screen; and Bruce Gordon was a leader in the business and civil rights realms, who focused on diversifying the workplace, including the upper echelons of corporate management.

Proceeds from the annual benefit enable the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to sustain critical programs and services, which foster economic self-sufficiency, enhance family stability and growth, promote the arts and culture and transform Brooklyn neighborhoods into safe, vibrant places to live, work and visit.

“We’re focusing on an integrated model of getting people jobs, helping them manage their income, and securing them additional support to in the form of supplemental assistance so that they can stay in the workforce,” Grannum said. “The whole idea is that we have a lot of people in Brooklyn who are not making a sustainable wage.”

Known as the nation’s first community development corporation, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation has been recognized as revolutionary model for similar nonprofit organizations across the country. By implementing a pioneering and community based approach, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation has catalyzed a wide variety of economic, educational, professional, residential, recreational and cultural improvements throughout Brooklyn.

Along with poverty, an increasing worry for neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant is the adverse effect of gentrification in displacing lower income residents. Grannum mentioned “three strands” of policy implementation that can improve the neighborhood while avoiding mass displacement: (1) programs that allow residents to earn more money through supplemental assistance and improving schools and access to higher education, (2) mixed income housing that layers market-rate housing with affordable housing in the same building, offering a range of social benefits, and (3) stamping the cultural identity into the community so that it maintains a reflection of the neighborhood’s values even as new residents enter.

Established in 1967 by bi-partisan New York Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob K. Javits, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the nation’s first community development corporation, partners with residents and business to improve the quality of life of Central Brooklyn by fostering economic self-sufficiency, enhancing family stability and growth, promoting the arts and culture and transforming Brooklyn neighborhoods into a safe, vibrant place to live, work and visit. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, Restoration is a dynamic institution that creates significant, sustainable and demonstrable impact in improving the well-being of local residents and business.