UMEZ Cultural Industry Investment Fund Awards Capacity-Building Grant to Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

Date:    Friday, April 24, 2015

Kenneth J. Knuckles, President & CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ) announced that UMEZ has entered into a grant agreement in the amount of $759,249 with Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) through UMEZ’s Cultural Industry Investment Fund. The grant will support new staff positions and specialized consultancies as CCCADI transitions into its new facility, a renovated firehouse in East Harlem.

CCCADI has been designated by the City of New York as developer of the landmarked, three-story firehouse, located on West 125th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. Renovation on the decommissioned facility began in April 2015, and CCCADI plans to hold the grand opening of this newly-envisioned space in the fall of 2016. The UMEZ grant assists CCCADI as the organization brings on new development, marketing and facility staff in preparation for the move into its new headquarters.

“UMEZ recognized that this investment would not only provide the Caribbean Cultural Center with invaluable support for operating costs that few other funders could grant, but also leverage additional funds from the philanthropic community as the organization grows into its new facility,” said Mr. Knuckles. “This grant also extends the 125th Street Cultural District presence into the eastern part of Harlem, further diversifying the cultural landscape and bringing new program activity into the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, CCCADI Founder and President, stated, “CCCADI appreciates the commitment of UMEZ throughout the process of envisioning the exciting new phase of the organization's growth. The grant is essential to the expansion of CCCADI in creating new job opportunities for our community, but most important, opening opportunities for conscious cultural tourism that will provide opportunities for wider audiences to enjoy the wealth of cultural and educational offerings unique to El Barrio. This will help generate more investments in this historic community that is “Mi Querido Barrio - My Beloved Community.”

Founded in 1976 by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute was one of New York City’s earliest organizations to focus on the cultural contributions of people of color and remains its leading African Diaspora cultural organization. CCCADI’s mission is to value, connect, and advocate for the traditions, history, culture, and advancement of the African Diaspora. Through research, educational programs, and the creative arts, CCCADI prepares individuals to be active participants in the creation of holistic communities. In fulfilling its mission, CCCCADI functions as a presenter, producer, curator, educator, facilitator, advocate, and general ambassador to communicate the social, cultural and economic equity of African Diaspora communities around the globe.

Since its founding in 1996, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) has been a singular catalyst in the revitalization of Upper Manhattan. UMEZ’s investments, upwards of $220 million to date, have provided funding to numerous organizations, businesses and institutions that drive the local economy, create jobs, and add to the vibrancy of New York City. Significantly, these funds have also been leveraged to generate over $1 billion in private capital investments into Upper Manhattan. UMEZ continues to be a leader in reestablishing the area as one of New York’s most dynamic cultural districts through the creation of the Cultural Industry Investment Fund, established in 2004.

The Cultural Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) was established in 2004 in order to support cultural institutions – from the iconic to the new and burgeoning – that serve as a powerful platform for the revitalization of the communities in which they reside. CIIF’s strategy is designed to encourage long-term, permanent change within its grantees by building administrative capacity, supporting organizational development, and/or making needed capital improvements. Since its inception, CIIF has provided $40 million in grants to over 50 arts and cultural organizations in Upper Manhattan.