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Al Vann Finds Life After Politics With New Charity

By Paul DeBenedetto | November 21, 2013 10:50am
 Outgoing Councilman Al Vann's new charity will provide scholarships and grants to the community, he said.
Outgoing Councilman Al Vann's new charity will provide scholarships and grants to the community, he said.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BROOKLYN — After nearly 40 years Albert Vann, a central Brooklyn luminary who served in the State Assembly and is now term-limited out of the City Council, will finally leave politics in 2014.

But Vann is out to prove that there's life after public service with a new charity meant to reflect what the long-time central Brooklyn politician called his commitment to community.

The Albert Vann Legacy of Leadership Project is a charity that will give college scholarships to graduating high school seniors and provide grants to youth and community-focused central Brooklyn nonprofits.

"I never entered politics with the thought that this is something I would do for 38 years," Vann said. "But it suited who I was. It's who I am, it's what I wanted to do. So now that I'm leaving, there should be something that represents that kind of service."

Throughout his time in office, Vann's role in creating and supporting community institutions — like the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Bridge Street Development Corporation and Medgar Evers College, among others — was something the outgoing councilman said he hoped would continue to define his legacy throughout his post-political life.

Providing grants to local organizations provides an opportunity to foster community in central Brooklyn after retiring, Vann said.

"I was taught that role of elected officials is to support and build community institutions," Vann said. "If I've done anything, it's been about that."

While the project is not yet an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit, they're working under the umbrella of FJC, a nonprofit that manages charitable donations for smaller organizations. 

The application process, guidelines and selection procedure will be announced in January, a spokeswoman for the councilman said.

"It's very much in keeping with how he's directed his attention," said the spokeswoman, Dynishal Gross. "He's always paid attention to the neediest in the community."

The group is already accepting donations, with fundraising beginning in earnest on Dec. 6 at a benefit gala where ticket prices start at $150 and go as high as $10,000 for a 10-person deluxe package. 

The group has also planned smaller events and fundraisers, like last Saturday's free "indoor block party" in celebration of Vann's career, to include less-wealthy supporters.

While the councilman said he'd miss some aspects of the job come January, when incoming councilman Robert Cornegy takes over, he also said he was ready for the next phase of his life.

"I've been able to really help people, help the community, empower the community, strengthen organizations," Vann said.

"I've had a blessed life, really."