Given annually to an "unsung hero" of New York City.
The Brooke Russell Astor Award was established in 1987 as part of a generous endowment gift to The New York Public Library from David Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller’s gift is a tribute to Mrs. Astor’s continued commitment to supporting the role of individuals who improve the quality of life in New York City. Given annually, the Brooke Russell Astor Award honors an unsung hero or heroine, someone whose unrelenting efforts and tireless dedication to this city have contributed substantially to its betterment. Nominations for the Brooke Russell Astor Award are solicited from over 300 individuals and organizations, including cultural groups, universities, foundations, elected officials, community groups, and social service agencies. The selection committee includes representatives from the cultural, academic, government, and social service communities of New York.
Beginning in 2012, as part of the Spring Dinner for Education, a night that celebrates the library's investment in lifelong learning and its commitment to the human capital of New York City, we asked that nominees be involved in education - an area of great importance to Mrs. Astor.
- 2014: Teresa Arboleda, President, Citywide Council on English and Language Learners AND Jeffrey Litt, Superintendent of Schools, Icahn Charter Schools
- 2013: Mr. Jon Green, Network Leader / Director of Instruction, The Urban Assembly
- 2012: Mr. Seymour Fliegel, Founder of the Center for Educational Innovation
- 2010: William J. Dean, Executive Director of Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS)
- 2009: Lucina Clarke, Founder and Executive Director of My Time Inc.
- 2008: Reverend Terry Troia, Executive Director of Project Hospitality
- 2007: Carl Siciliano, Founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center (AFC)
- 2006: Fran Barrett, Founder and Executive Director of the Community Resource Exchange (CRE)
- 2005: Reverend Mitchell G. Taylor, Founder and Chairman of East River Development Alliance
- 2004: Sister Simone A. Ponnet, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Abraham House
- 2003: Le Lieu Browne, Founder and Chair of Refugee Women Council
- 2002: Miriam Lubling, Founder and President of Rivka Laufer Bikur Cholim
- 2001: Bryan Pu-Folkes, Founder and President of new Immigrant Community Empowerment
- 2000: Yolanda Sanchez, Executive Director of The Puerto Rican Association for community Affairs
- 1999: Yvonne Stennett, Executive Director of The Community League of West 159th Street
- 1998: James Gilmore, Co-Founder of One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement
- 1997: Cordell Cleare, Co-Chair of the New York City Coalition to end Lead Poisoning
- 1996: Kathy Goldman, Founder and Executive Director of the Community Food Resource Center
- 1995: Henry J. Carter, Founder of Wheelchair Charities, Inc.
- 1994: Frank Carucci, Coordinator of Cultural Arts for the Career Education Center
- 1993: Sister Elizabeth Hasselt, Co-Founder and executive Director of Encore Community Services
- 1992: Joyce Wallace, M.D., F.A.C.P., Executive Director of the Foundation for Research on Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- 1991: Guy Polhemus, Founder and Executive Director of WE CAN
- 1990: Marie Christopher, Co-Founder of Alliance for a Drug-Free City
- 1989: Genevieve Brooks, President and Executive Director of MBD Community Housing Corporation
- 1988: Rita Zimmer, Founder of Women in Need
- 1987: Emma Black, a retired practical nurse