Members of the Human Services Council were invited to apply for small grants of $10,000 to create data-based “portraits” that illuminate important well-being challenges and unmet human needs in their neighborhood or field.

Data used for this project are available on DATA2GO.NYC, a free, online mapping and visualization tool with 360 indicators on human need and well-being in NYC.

These data-based portraits will take a variety of forms limited only by the creativity of participants: a fact sheet, photo series, infographic, map, report, video, or other innovative ways to highlight, explore, or offer solutions to local problems.

For example, a group working in Brownsville could create an advocacy fact sheet outlining priority issues for the community and showing how they relate to one another. An organization working on food insecurity in Queens could develop a video informed by the DATA2GO maps for food insecurity, poverty, obesity, and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The selected grant recipients are:

  • Brooklyn Community Services
  • Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
  • Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
  • Good Shepherd Services
  • Grand Street Settlement
  • Henry Street Settlement
  • JASA
  • MercyFirst
  • Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
  • Public Health Solutions
  • The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
  • Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation
  • YMCA of Greater New York
  • See press release here.

    Portraits of New York City | Small Grants Challenge

    The Human Services Council, founded in 1991, works to ensure New Yorkers from all walks of life and across diverse neighborhoods, cultures, and generations can reach their full human potential. We do this by strengthening New York’s nonprofit human services industry, an economic engine in which the City and State collectively invest $5.8 billion in funding annually.

    The Council works with member organizations to be active participants in advocacy, build effective relationships with public officials and the communities they represent, and leverage their collective voice for change. This project aims to help illuminate some of the questions around well-being and health in New York’s communities; understand the kinds of data important to human services organizations; and support human services nonprofits to learn about and better utilize data to assess need and advocate for data and evidence-based policymaking that improves human well-being.

    This initiative is part of a two-phase Measure of America project supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Phase I. Measure of America (www.measureofamerica.org) developed and, in October 2015, launched DATA2GO.NYC, a free, easy-to-use online mapping and data tool that provides reliable, up-to-date information on New York City’s neighborhood strengths and challenges. Phase II. Measure of America is producing an accompanying report, A Portrait of New York City 2017, slated for release in 2017. The report will be an engaging, graphically rich report on human need across New York City’s neighborhoods and racial and ethnic groups. The conceptual spine of this report will be American Human Development Index, a supplement to Gross Domestic Product and other money metrics that tells the story of how different groups of people are faring. The micro-portraits generated through the Small Grants Challenge will inform (and some will be featured in) the larger Portrait of NYC project and on the Portrait website.


    Judging Criteria

    All applications were judged on:

    • Original use of the DATA2GO.NYC dataset to illuminate neighborhood conditions, trends, disparities, etc.
    • Bridging of different sectors to present well-being challenges in a more interconnected way (i.e. how environment and health are related, how education and employment interact, etc.)
    • Potential impact on public understanding and discussion of problem(s) involved
    • Communication of a clear, accessible message


    • Successful applicants will represent the well-being challenge and potential solution in a creative, stimulating way.
    • The final Community Portraits may be used by Measure of America for A Portrait of New York City 2017.



    An independent selection panel has made grant determinations.


    Questions? Check out the FAQ here, and if you can't find an answer, email communityportraits@humanservicescouncil.org.


    The Human Service Council's primary goal is to strengthen the nonprofit human services industry's ability to deliver services that improve the physical, emotional, and economic health and well-being of individuals in New York City.

    The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health, selected place-based initiatives, and education and human services.

    Measure of America of the Social Science Research Council works with partners to breathe life into numbers, providing easy-to-use yet methodologically sound tools for understanding the distribution of well-being and opportunity in America's communities.