Far Rockaway organizations awarded funding for community-based programs and events

Following the groundbreaking event for Edgemere Commons, The Arker Companies and FRANC announced the first round of Far Rockaway grantees receiving funds as part of the team’s $2 million commitment to local community organizations. (Rendering courtesy of Aufgang Architects)

Twenty-three nonprofit organizations in Far Rockaway were announced as recipients of the Edgemere Community Development Grants, which will provide funding for community-based events and programs on the peninsula. 

The Arker Companies, an NYC real estate development focusing primarily on affordable housing, in partnership with the Far Rockaway Arverne Nonprofit Coalition (FRANC), on Aug. 16 announced the first round in a series of grants to local nonprofits on the peninsula. In May, the company and FRANC broke ground at Edgemere Commons, which will bring 2,000 units of affordable housing to the peninsula. 

“We’re proud to work closely with FRANC and local community leaders to support 23 nonprofits who will use these funds to create events and programs for the Rockaway community,” said Alex Arker, principal at The Arker Companies. “The revitalization of Edgemere and development of Edgemere Commons is not just about affordable housing, it’s also about eradicating a food desert, creating retail space and empowering the community.”

According to Manny Silva, executive director of FRANC, the unique partnership between FRANC, The Arker Companies and nonprofits across the Rockaways, is an example of how many community stakeholders can come together to impact a community in many different ways. 

“These funds will increase food accessibility, access to health, and create new community events for our kids, and we’re thrilled to keep dispersing these grants over the next decade,” Silva said. 

With support from The Fund for The City of New York, FRANC will disburse the grants over the next decade to support organizations in the surrounding community. 

The nine organizations awarded $5,000 grants are as follows: 

  • Far Rock Greek Council 
  • FarRock Strong Incorporated, 
  • Queens Royal Priest Hood Inc.
  • Edgemere Community Civic Association
  • Queens Defenders
  • Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation
  • Edgemere Farm
  • Rockaway Ravens Youth Sports Inc.
  • Beach 41 Street Houses Resident Council

The 14 organizations awarded $2,500 grants are as follows: 

  • Rok Nation Dance Team LLC
  • The REAL Church
  • Swim Strong Foundation
  • Laru Beya Collective Inc. 
  • Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
  • Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center
  • 100 Precinct Community Council Inc.
  • The Campaign Against Hunger
  • Ann Crowley Fosteris Fitness To You Trainers and Instructors
  • Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
  • Rockaway Film Festival Inc.
  • East River Development Alliance
  • Arverne Church of God Inc.
  • Rockaway Ropez Inc.

Divided into two rounds, the initial tranche of grants recipients includes applicants across three major categories: workforce development, youth development and/or community development. Eight community and nonprofit leaders rated the applications based on a rubric and those scores were compiled and averaged to determine who would receive grants.

Lugarry Vernon, executive director at Far Rock Strong, said the grant will allow them to buy uniforms and basketballs, as well as hire referees to put together basketball clinics and tournaments, host outings and trips, and to continue to help hundreds of Rockaway students be the best they can be both on and off the court. 

“Bringing kids together for organized activities like basketball can help provide positive outlets that build a stronger community and future for our children,” Vernon said. 

The grant program delivers on commitments made by the development team behind Edgemere Commons. 

In May 2022, The Arker Companies and Slate Property Group broke ground on the first building of the $100 million mixed-use affordable housing development that will eventually offer over 2,000 affordable homes, retail, community space, medical facilities and outdoor public space for Far Rockaway residents. 

Tishman Speyer, which acquired the remaining 10 buildings in 2021, will complete the project and support FRANC with the remaining tranches of community grants.

“Whether it’s offering young New Yorkers after-school activities or supporting families with essential health resources, the 23 organizations receiving grants today will help Rockaway residents thrive,” said David Schwartz, co-founder and principal at Slate Property Group. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to support a historically underserved community with the housing and economic opportunity Far Rockaway deserves as we complete the first phase of Edgemere Commons.”

Vanessa Seis, of Edgemere Farm, said they’re committed to the continuation of food education and access in the community, as well as providing a safe space where all are welcome and invited to learn and grow together. 

“We are incredibly grateful to partner with FRANC and The Arker Companies on this grant, which will help support the continuation of free cultural and educational programming at the farm, including musical performances and children’s educational workshops and classes,” Seis said. 

Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers commended Arker Companies for their “continued commitment to the Edgemere community.” 

Powers is encouraging more organizations to participate in round two of the Edgemere Commons Community Grants Program. 

“As the city works to combat the housing crisis, it is equally important to ensure we are not simply developing housing, but building communities,” Brooks-Powers said. “The Edgemere Commons Community Grants is an example as to how housing developers can invest in local communities, strengthening our local groups working to fill in gaps.”  

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said he is “deeply grateful” to the Arker Companies and FRANC for their commitment to the community. 

“Edgemere Commons is a true community-first development, and today’s announcement of grant funding for nearly two dozen critically important community organizations is yet another reason why Edgemere Commons holds such tremendous promise for Rockaway,” Richards said. “From youth empowerment to violence prevention to combatting food insecurity, the nonprofits receiving these grants are well-situated to use this funding to help build bright futures for Far Rockaway residents.” 

The next round of grant applications will open on Sept. 1 and organizations can visit francnyc.org/grantapplication for more information.