Press Releases

NYCEDC Seeks Cultural Organization for Commemoration Program for Brooklyn's Role in Abolitionist Movement

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a cultural organization to develop and administer a commemoration program dedicated to the abolitionist activities in Brooklyn in the 1800s. The proposed project may involve any area of Brooklyn, but should have a central orientation point connected to a series of related sites, with particular emphasis on the Underground Railroad and its ties to the Borough. Only existing New York City-based Section 501 C(3) arts, cultural, educational or historical organizations are eligible to respond to the RFP. The City will provide initial funding in the amount of $1 million for planning expenses over the next three fiscal years, and another $1 million in capital funding for the same period to be used by the selected respondent to implement the commemoration program.

“A great deal of abolitionist activity took place in Brooklyn and we are on-track to develop an appropriate program to honor that activity and the people and places that played a role in those historic events,” said NYCEDC President Robert C. Lieber. “As we move toward a more prosperous, thriving Downtown Brooklyn, we must not lose sight of the contribution our forefathers made to secure freedom for all Americans.”

The commemoration may be proposed for any area of Brooklyn, but the more compelling proposals will provide for a central orientation point connected to related sites. To facilitate this concept, the City is reserving a portion of the future Willoughby Square Park, located on the northern portion of the block. If it is decided that the central orientation of the commemoration program is to be located in Willoughby Square Park, the selected respondent will work with the chosen landscape architect to integrate the commemoration project with the design for the park.

“The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is excited about the commemoration of Brooklyn’s strong connection to the abolitionist movement,” said Downtown Partnership President Joe Chan. “As Downtown Brooklyn grows it is important that the area’s rich history is properly communicated and the Advisory Panel will ensure that the organization best suited to do this is selected.”

A nine-member Advisory Panel, consisting of historians, community leaders, academics, and representatives from NYCEDC, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Department of Cultural Affairs, will assist in the selection of the local cultural organization to develop and manage the commemoration program. The goals of the program include:

  • Demonstrate the significance of the Underground Railroad and Abolitionist Movement among people of difference backgrounds;
  • Propose a permanent commemoration of Brooklyn’s Abolitionist heritage within the Borough of Brooklyn;
  • Demonstrate financial sustainability with proposed budget for three years;
  • Provide an interactive, public gathering venue;
  • Celebrate the concept of freedom and the ‘historic friendships’ cultivated by the people of Brooklyn;
  • Attract visitors from Brooklyn, NYC and beyond.

There will be an informational session on December 7, 2007 at 10 a.m. at 110 William Street, Fourth Floor, New York City. A copy of the RFP may be downloaded by visiting Proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. on February 1, 2008.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities.


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Contact Info

Janel Patterson/Yonit Golub 212-312-3523