NEW JERSEY RECOVERY FUND

Mission: The New Jersey Recovery Fund supports catalytic ideas and projects with an emphasis on innovation, collaboration, resiliency and sustainability as New Jersey recovers from Hurricane Sandy. 

Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CNFJ) established the New Jersey Recovery Fund (NJRF). The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation partnered with CFNJ and together raised more than $7 million and awarded more than 25 grants to projects with partners spanning environmental, media, education, arts, housing, and planning organizations.

The NJRF focused on supporting three broad categories: planning and public policies that promote community resiliency; environmental protection; economic vitality; comprehensive local news coverage of post-Sandy recovery issues, including accountability reporting; municipal information and engagement efforts; and using the arts to foster individual and community healing and revitalization in impacted communities. In addition, NJRF made grants to assure equity in the distribution of federal and state aid to New Jersey residents. The projects funded helped spur deeper conversations and policies on whether to rebuild, rethink or retreat.

The road to recovery from Hurricane Sandy is long. More than two and a half years later, there are many problems still plaguing the state, including people who have not returned to their homes, and the inability of the state to provide long-term solutions and planning for future natural disasters. Despite these ongoing concerns, there has been progress, and our nonprofit leaders continue to lead the fight for an equitable and sustainable recovery.

Some of these victories include:

  • Low-income residents and renters initially left out of the recovery process and some of the hardest-hit municipalities wrongly denied state funding and resources got their fair share of relief thanks to separate watchdog efforts by the Fair Share Housing Center and its partners, and by a reporting collaboration by NJ Spotlight and WNYC which exposed the mistakes made by government officials.
  • For the first time, communities are taking part in long-term resiliency planning for future disasters. This work is being done through Sustainable Jersey’s Resiliency Network and Resiliency Network Advisory Board, the only body in New Jersey focused on resiliency that includes all major state agencies, federal agencies, nonprofits and local officials.
  • Led by Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, federal, state and local permitting agencies, nonprofit organizations and foundations collaborated to restore storm-ravaged beaches on the Delaware Bayshore that are vital to the annual migration of shore birds from South America to the Arctic. The work was completed in record time, just prior to the arrival of horseshoe crabs to begin laying eggs in the sand for the arriving hungry birds. The number of tourists and red knots that flock to Delaware Bayshore beaches continues to increase each season since Sandy hit thanks to these beach restoration efforts, ensuring a future for these imperiled species as well as continued ecotourism opportunities for this economically stressed region of the state.
  • Perhaps the best leverage of NJRF funds came with Rebuild By Design, the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored international design competition to develop storm protection and resiliency projects in the region. With a modest investment of $150,000, the NJRF secured a seat at the table with other funders (led by Rockefeller and its $3 million commitment) and an opportunity to influence the competition process. Of the six teams finally selected and the $920 million awarded by HUD, two were from New Jersey, Hoboken ($230 million) and the Meadowlands ($150 million). This was a significant success for the state and for local efforts to increase resiliency in the face of major storms. The projects are now in the planning stage and are expected to be implemented over the next three to five years or more. 

Recovery Fund grantees were urged to collaborate, which the NJRF facilitated by convening the entire cohort four times over the course of a year. At the final convening last June, grantees reported the Recovery Fund was successful in achieving one of its key underlying goals: spurring new collaborations and creating meaningful partnerships. Though the grantmaking is complete, many of the grantees continue to carry out their work today.

Recovery Fund Timeline

  • (August 6, 2013) The New Jersey Recovery Fund awarded $3.8 million to support smart Sandy recovery and resilient communities in New Jersey. See the full announcement as well as a comprehensive listing of the grants here.
  • (April 11, 2013) Full proposals to the New Jersey Recovery Fund are under review. The Fund is not accepting any more applications at this time.
  • (March 6, 2013) The application process for the New Jersey Recovery Fund closed. Almost 200 letters of inquiry were under review. All applicants will be notified whether or not they have been invited to submit a full proposal by March 13. 
  • (February 4, 2013) The Community Foundation of New Jersey announced the guidelines for the New Jersey Recovery Fund, which focuses on five overarching areas. To see the full guidelines, please click here.