Council on the Environment, Inc.

aka GrowNYC   |   New York, NY   |


Founded in 1970, GrowNYC is one of the largest and most established environmental organizations in NYC - helping more than 3 million New Yorkers by providing essential services and taking action to make NYC a truly livable city, one where every perscan can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life.

Ruling year info


President / CEO

Mr. Marcel Van Ooyen

Main address

PO Box 2327

New York, NY 10272 USA

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NTEE code info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Garden Club, Horticultural Programs (C42)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The environmental challenges facing our city are vast. GrowNYC's programs focus on issues of: open space, waste reduction, food access and farmland preservation, resource conservation and protection and creating the next generation of environmental stewards. One of the main challenges our city faces is that individuals often lack the tools and services they need to improve quality of life for themselves and for their neighbors.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Food Access and Agriculture

Our network of Greenmarket farmers markets, Farmstands, and Fresh Food Box sites, coupled with GrowNYC's Food Hub, ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food.

Population(s) Served

Our Zero Waste Programs focus on waste prevention, expanding residential composting opportunities, and increasing recycling diversion rates through public education. Working in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, staff identify challenges to recycling in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs and work to address those needs with community events and special collections. Free resources include textile recycling, food scrap drop-offs sites, Stop ‘N’ Swap® events, and more.

Population(s) Served

Community Gardens: GrowNYC has built 135 community gardens across the City, transforming vacant land into vibrant civic spaces that challenge communities to interact with each other. We build new gardens each year and give substantial assistance to hundreds of gardens each year via: workshops, volunteer days, advice, and our annual plant sale. To-date we have added one million square feet of green space to our city.

Population(s) Served

GrowNYC education staff engages students and adults in all five boroughs, working on issues ranging from recycling to to nutrition and gardening. GrowNYC’s education programs empower the next generation of stewards: Governors Island Teaching Garden, Youth Career Readiness Program, and Zero Waste Schools.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, Young adults, Children, Preteens, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Food Access and Agriculture

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our overall goal is to help New Yorkers flourish. We do this by providing essential services and take action to make NYC a truly livable city, one where every person can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life.

In order to accomplish our goal, we pair education with action for any New Yorker who is interested (currently some 3,000,000 New Yorkers take advantage of our programs and services). That means anyone who participates in our programs can learn about environmental issues and THEN utilize opportunities we provide to take sustainable actions.

• Creating Food Access and Preserving Farmland: We will operate our network of 80+ Greenmarkets, Farmstands, and Fresh Food Box sites, as well as GrowNYC Wholesale, ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, local food, reducing food miles and preserving ensure thousands of acres of farmland.

• Encouraging Waste Reduction and Conserving Resources: We will blanket the five boroughs with resources like textile and food scrap collection to make waste reduction easy for all.

• Creating Open Space and Beautifying Neighborhoods: We will build new community gardens, renovate existing green spaces, and support hundreds of existing community and school gardens with: volunteer days, garden builds, horticulture workshops, mini-grants for schools, teacher training, and our wholesale plant sale.

• Hands-on Environmental Education: We will foster future environmental stewards by providing thousands of children each year with in-person and virtual programs that provide for many their first meaningful interaction with the natural environment, from field trips to our teaching garden on Governors Island to our career readiness program.

We bring to every project nearly 5 decades of experience. GrowNYC builds sustainability into all our programs and projects – it is a core principle for the organization. We believe that providing programming, amenities and assistance is always done in partnership with others: neighborhoods, community groups, fellow nonprofits, individuals, schools, city agencies, etc. When we commit resources granted by funders, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we invest in projects that are optimized for success and longevity. Therefore, we have developed metrics/success determinants that allow us to evaluate whether all necessary elements are in place before deploying resources to a project e.g. community garden assistance requires that the garden have land permanency, a committed cadre of members, public open hours, a set of agreed upon rules/standards for use, etc. Additionally, GrowNYC is not a ‘cut and run’ organization; we are available for our constituents and partners to answer questions, troubleshoot and provide additional resources e.g. we run regular grant writing workshops for our school gardeners so that they are equipped to seek and raise funds beyond the assistance we provide. GrowNYC embodies the ‘teach a man to fish’ ethos so that community projects have staying power and community members are empowered to steward those projects. We are proud that for nearly a half century, the vast majority of our program sites i.e. Greenmarkets, community gardens, school partners, etc. endure and withstand the test of time as they have become woven into neighborhoods as well loved and needed community hubs.

GrowNYC is and will continue to grow as a resource for any New Yorker who wants to lower their environmental impact by taking advantage of tools, services and information to inform choices and action.
GrowNYC operated the first modern day farmers market in NYC starting in 1978 and now is proud to manage the largest outdoor farmers market program in the U.S. Beyond our 65 vibrant hubs, we are improving food access and health via: Farmstands, Fresh Food Box (think CSA without the commitment) and our Food Hub, a distribution project that gets food in wholesale quantities to restaurants, food rescue organizations, bodegas and more. Our gardening program was at the forefront of the movement in New York and was founded by Richard Abrons and Liz Christy—considered the founder of the community gardens movement—to transform vacant lots into communal green spaces and our rainwater harvesting program collects one million gallons of water annually. We have worked with residents to build 135+ gardens and each year we help hundreds more through our wholesale plant sales, volunteer days, green infrastructure builds, plant material donations, and renovations.

The groundwork has been laid and we've made great progress over the past 50 years – in the future we'd like to grow our presence in the minds and practices of all new Yorkers and nonprofits – who can look to us as a partner and as a go-to source for what they might need. We hope to weave sustainability into every component of city life so that being green is second nature. In order to strengthen our efforts even more, we hope to continue to build on key partnerships, e.g. the NYC Park's Department, the botanical gardens and other citywide groups that can help leverage resources, staff and funding.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


Council on the Environment, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Council on the Environment, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 10/31/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robert Kafin


Robert Kafin

Proskauer Rose

Jordan Barowitz

The Durst Organization

Charlene Balfour

JP Morgan and Chase

Ashwin Vasan

NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Arline Bronzaft

Wellington Chen

Chinatown Partnership

Victoria Contino

Retired, Wilson Elser

Bret Csencsitz

Gotham Bar and Grill

Jacqueline Dryfoos


Nancy Elder

New York Mets

Everard Findlay


Jessica Tisch

NYC Department of Sanitation

Mark Izeman


Anita Kuwatra

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

John Lyons


Liz Neumark

Great Performances

Lys Pike

former GrowNYC Executive Director

Charles Ramat

Bethel Farms LLC

Barbara Samuelson

Merrill Lynch

Rohit T. Aggarwala

NYC Department of Environmental Protection

Lea Savoji


Nick Scharlatt

Foothold Technology

Eugene Schneur

Omni NY

Johan Segergren


Susan Donoghue

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Marianne Spraggins

The BondFactory Company

Ydanis Rodriguez

NYC Department of Transportation

Samara Daly

Bolton St. Johns

Matt Gewolb

New York Law School

Kate MacKenzie

Mayor's Office of Food Policy

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/1/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/31/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.