92Y Announces $15 Million Naming Gift for Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact
Gift will accelerate 92Y’s innovative approach to reimagining community for the 21st century
Belfer Center to incubate new initiatives, building on success of #GivingTuesday and 7 Days of Genius, that connect people and communities around the world

NEW YORK, NY: May 26, 2016 – 92nd Street Y today announced a $15 million gift from the Belfer family of New York City for 92Y’s Center for Innovation and Social Impact, which will be renamed the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at 92Y in their honor. Through the Belfer Center, 92Y can deepen its focus on reimagining community for a global, digitally connected world, and develop new mission-driven initiatives that honor the innovative spirit that has always been central to 92Y’s work and mission.

“Laurence Belfer has been a great champion of 92Y as a board member and as a founder and chair of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact,” said Marc Lipschultz, president of 92Y’s Board of Directors. “His family’s support for the new Belfer Center sets the standard for investing in our future and in the values that have always been at the core of 92Y: being deeply committed to enriching our diverse community and constantly embracing new ideas to better meet the needs and challenges of a changing world.”

“The team at 92Y has shown a remarkable ability to generate impactful mission-based programs that leverage the power of collaborations for the greater good,” said Laurence Belfer. “My hope is that this gift will allow 92Y to devote even more resources to creating great innovations while retaining the agility and sense of experimentation that has taken us this far.”

The Center for Innovation and Social Impact has incubated a number of initiatives, including #GivingTuesday, the now-global phenomenon that has transformed how we think about philanthropy and helped charities around the world raise tens of millions of dollars; American Conversation, a multi-platform, multi-partner campaign to encourage civic conversation; the Social Good Summit, which explores the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world; the global 7 Days of Genius festival; the Shababa Network, which has distilled an approach to community leadership that is now being adopted communities around the country; the Ben Franklin Circles, an initiative to revisit Franklin’s mutual improvement clubs for the 21st century; and a growing number of leadership programs that focus on ethics.

These initiatives have all emphasized an inclusive, open-source approach to cultural programming and relied on cross-sector collaborations to engage multiple communities around big ideas. Collaborators have included the UN Foundation, Mashable, Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Harvard Kennedy School, Public Radio International, UN Women, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation and many others. 92Y’s work in this area has been widely recognized: as one of Fast Company’s most innovative not-for-profits in 2016; as a finalist for the 2015 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation; and winner of the inaugural UJA-Federation of New York’s Riklis Prize for Agency Entrepreneurship in 2014, among others. The Belfer Center will be able to incubate more of these programs, advance existing initiatives and create even more opportunities to bring together a huge variety of organizations – political and cultural, religious and academic, global and grassroots, corporate and nonprofit – around big ideas and promoting social good.

“Laurence has been our mentor and champion as we try to reimagine the role of the community center in the digital world,” said Henry Timms, 92Y’s executive director. “The members of 92Y’s Board of Directors have actively encouraged a level of experimentation and ambition that supports and strengthens a great 92nd Street Y tradition – continually renewing our work and our values for new generations. We have a remarkable team at 92Y and a group of trusted partners in all sectors whose dedication and creativity have been invaluable in this critical work.”

Underscoring its commitment to innovation, 92Y has appointed Asha Curran, who has served as Director of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact since its inception in 2013, to an executive-level position as 92Y’s Chief Innovation Officer and Director of the Belfer Center.

A selection of programs to be housed in the Belfer Center is below.

  • American Conversation: Winner of a 2013 Webby Award, this multi-platform series fostering economic, political and cultural dialogue features content created with partners like POLITICO, Salon, Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, among others. As part of American Conversation’s countdown to the 2016 election, 92Y, New America and Slate are creating “Memos to 45,” a series of short videos, with some of today’s top thinkers and entertainers identifying the most important issue for the next president.
  • #GivingTuesday: The global day of giving that brings corporations, foundations and non-profits together to give back. In 2015, $116.7 million was raised from nearly 700,000 donors, more than 50 civic movements, across more than 71 countries.
  • 7 Days of Genius: This festival for the digital age explores the complicated nature of genius across communities, cultures and industries. In 2016, 60+ satellite events took place in 26 countries, including South Africa, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Romania, Nepal and Kenya.
  • Ben Franklin Circles: Based on the idea of a mutual improvement club started by Benjamin Franklin, the Circles bring people together to discuss Franklin’s 13 virtues and apply them to 21st-century values and leadership. Presented in partnership with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Citizen University. Since launching in January, circles have been formed in Boston, New York, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia and more.
  • Shababa Network: The Shababa Network is a leadership model that actively engages over 40 (and growing) diverse Jewish synagogues, day schools and community centers across the country, Canada and Israel in strengthening leadership and building more engaged and vibrant communities.
  • Social Good Summit: Seeking to expand participation in global affairs around the UN General Assembly meeting and UN Week in NYC, the Social Good Summit explores how technology and new media can solve our world’s most pressing global issues. In 2015, 1600 people attended the Summit in New York, and the Livestream (in seven languages) drew 90,000 visitors, with 200 meet-ups in over 110 countries and livecasts.
  • Women inPower: The latest addition to a growing body of fellowship programs, Women inPower boasts a cohort of 21 inspiring female leaders across industries with a focus on social responsibility and impact. The Fellows receive year-long executive mentorship, networking opportunities and training seminars with some of today’s top industry, policy and academic leaders.

ABOUT 92Y

92nd Street Y is a center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. Founded in 1874, it seeks to create programs of distinction that foster the physical and mental growth of people throughout their lives. From its New York headquarters, 92Y offers thousands of programs, including talks with leaders in every field; outstanding performing, visual and literary arts presentations and classes; fitness and sports programs; and activities for children and families. 92Y creates community far beyond its four walls, bringing people from all over the world together through innovations like the award-winning #GivingTuesday. Along with live webcasts and a growing online archive of free talks and performances, it’s transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action. 92Y’s programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values: the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives, and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions and ethnicities. For more information, visit 92Y.org.