Photo: Lee Pellegrini


Desmon and Derrick Lewis

The founders of the Bronx Community Foundation discuss the inspiration behind their work and what's next. 

Twin brothers Desmon Lewis ’05 (at left) and Derrick Lewis ’06 established the Bronx Community Foundation in 2017 to improve life in the New York City borough where they grew up. They raised over $15 million for a two-year initiative to address needs exacerbated by the pandemic. Now they’re looking to the future. 

Desmon: We call ourselves products of philanthropy. The Bronx has one of the largest nonprofit communities in the country, and like many of our neighbors, we were molded by these organizations throughout our childhood, living in affordable housing, receiving food assistance, and getting healthcare from a local nonprofit hospital. When thinking about how to give back to the Bronx, we asked ourselves, what are some of the struggles our parents faced? One was that our family had to go to many nonprofits to get help.

Derrick: We knew Bronx nonprofits were doing great work already, but they needed more capital. If you’re solving a challenge in the East Bronx, that can also be a solution for a challenge in the West Bronx. We wanted to say, how do we scale that solution you’ve created to be used across the entirety of the borough?

Desmon: When the pandemic hit, we decided to use our resources to execute our vision in a time of most need. With the help of local organizations, we trained restaurants to cook millions of emergency meals and distributed them. We also created the Bronx Digital Equity Coalition to donate Wi-Fi and electronic devices that allowed people to work and learn remotely. We provided all kinds of resources, from funding work training for the formerly incarcerated, to facilitating meetings for affordable housing groups, to providing grants to small businesses and distributing PPE.

Derrick: Our Covid relief effort ended in 2022, but further illustrated the need for the work of our foundation. We have four pillars of focus: justice, economic security, health, and digital equity, and are passionate about building community power and generational wealth. We made a major stride toward that goal this year when we helped to launch The Bronx Cannabis Hub, which assists people convicted of a cannabis offense in obtaining recreational marijuana licenses, and educates the community about the industry. 

There’s much more to this conversation. To listen to the entire Boston College Magazine podcast, click here.

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