The Bronx Community Foundation
Derrick and Desmon Lewis were both successful professionals in the consulting and banking industries. They were born and raised in The Bronx, New York City's poorest borough. The Lewis brothers had always wanted to give back to the community. In 2016 they launched a community foundation-The Bronx Community Foundation-dedicated to improving the lives of Bronxites. While a lot of good had been happening in The Bronx, Derrick and Desmon believed that a community foundation would help to bring the systemic and institutional change to the borough; change they felt was necessary to bring economic, health, educational, etc., equality to The Bronx. Yet, nearly four years later, they had managed to raise little from donors; headwinds included those in the community who did not support the idea of a community foundation. When COVID-19 struck New York City in March 2020, the Lewises saw an opportunity to demonstrate the need for a place-based convener organization, such as a community foundation, in The Bronx. A relief effort was launched with a host of partners, which raised $10 million to help people of The Bronx who were impacted by COVID-19. Now in late July, the Lewises wanted to build on the momentum of the relief fund to finally get support and traction for the community foundation. They had much to decide: How to raise money for the foundation, which would need to come primarily from outside of the borough; who should lead the foundation; and what should be the foundation's operating model. The Lewises believed there was a window of opportunity that they needed to seize to turn their dream of a community foundation for The Bronx into a reality. The case provides an overview of community foundations in the U.S., an overview of The Bronx, The Bronx Community Relief Effort, and the Lewis brothers' early days and their efforts to start a community foundation, the opportunity, and the challenges.
- 2020 HBS
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