Since 2020, Hester Street (HST) has partnered with Surdna Foundation to launch the Radical Imagination for Racial Justice (RIRJ) initiative, providing grants and in-depth technical assistance to community-based organizations that use arts, culture, and community engagement to advance racial and environmental justice in New York City and Puerto Rico. As part of the foundation’s Thriving Cultures program, our team is one of eleven national partners regranting funds to local artists of color and organizations serving communities of color, advancing their role in shaping narrative change, and disseminating knowledge that imagines racially just systems at local scale. 

From 2021-2022, HST worked closely with a cohort of eight community-based grantees: WE ACT, The Point, Futures Ignite, Casa Pueblo, El Puente, RISE Rockaway, GLITS, and Parceleras AfroCaribeñas. From building community solar networks in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico and Hunts Point in the Bronx, to expanding access to green space in Washington Heights and Williamsburg, the first two cohorts of RIRJ grantees have benefitted from HST’s expertise in community engagement. RIRJ additionally supported local cultural and environmental preservation efforts in San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico, and in the Rockaway communities of Queens, including Riis Beach. Read more about the lessons learned from the first two years of the RIRJ initiative here.

HST announced our third RIRJ cohort in December 2023. Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat (CRH) in Piñones, Loíza, Puerto Rico, Chhaya CDC in Jackson Heights, Queens, and Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts in Woodside, Queens will all receive funding and technical assistance support for their place-based projects to advance racial and environmental justice. Learn more about our current grantees here. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Surdna and community-based leaders in NYC and Puerto Rico to support creative interventions at the intersection of arts and culture and environmental justice.