The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Board of Trustees recently approved $732,000 in grants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support New Jersey’s nonprofit sector, communities, and the integrity of the November election. The latest grants bring the total amount of the Foundation’s COVID-19 response grants to more than $2 million.
“As we have seen, COVID-19 has had a compounding effect on the inequities in our society; has called into question our institutions, policies, and practices; and has called upon philanthropy to stand up for its values and adapt in new ways,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge president and CEO. “We’re proud to stand with New Jersey’s nonprofit sector and support organizations focused on activating networks and sharing clear, correct, and accessible information and the resources people need in response to the pandemic and in the face of active misinformation campaigns and attempts at voter disenfranchisement.”
Dodge made nine grants totaling $375,000 to provide urgent relief and strategic support through the COVID-19 pandemic to the most vulnerable communities in our state, including people and communities of color, and to organizations with a focus on grassroots advocacy, community organizing, and power-building initiatives to inform, engage, and activate people and communities of color in the near-term response phase of the crisis. These include grants to the South Jersey COVID-19 Response Fund, CATA Farmworkers Support Committee, Fair Share Housing Center, as well as the Atlantic City Community Fund and I Am Trenton Community Foundation, two community-led grantmaking funds.
Dodge made six grants totaling $285,000 to support voter education and access and to foster accountability and integrity in the November election as the pandemic has seriously impacted the fundamental process of the election. In addition, many of the issues at stake in the election disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. These include grants to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the League of Women Voters New Jersey Education Fund, and Votebeat, Chalkbeat’s pop-up election integrity newsroom project.
COVID-19 response grants include:
- Atlantic City Community Fund: $25,000 to support community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- CATA Farmworkers Support Committee: $25,000 to document conditions on farms to tell the story of COVID’s impact on farm workers and to advocate for the rights and health of farm workers.
- Conservatory of Music and Performing Arts Society: $10,000 for the art supplies fund of the Any Given Child Trenton Art initiative.
- Fair Share Housing Center: $25,000 to support advocacy and education outreach for an extension of mortgage forbearance and evictions protections against low-income residents struggling under the economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Foundation for Educational Administration: $50,000 for its trauma-informed, healing-centered training program for New Jersey school to support further training curriculum development, evaluation protocol, and the launch of 15 pilot programs.
- I Am Trenton Community Foundation: $25,000 to support grassroots community-connected organizations and initiatives and capacity building offerings
- Morristown Partnership Commercial Rent Relief Fund: $100,000 to support its commercial rent-relief program with a priority on supporting BIPOC led businesses
- Newark Symphony Hall: $15,000 to support its Embrace Newark campaign, which will activate the City’s cultural community to help feed, protect, and heal residents and to unite and support people impacted by the pandemic.
- South Jersey Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund: $100,000 to support immediate basic needs and recovery requests.
COVID-19 grants in support of a fair and safe election include:
- Center for Cooperative Media: $10,000 to leverage and support its network of local news organizations to produce a multi-lingual voter education campaign and to support BIPOC- and community-based media outlets and journalists to produce basic information about local elections.
- Chalkbeat: $100,000 to support Votebeat, a pop-up newsroom project which will employ on-the-ground reporters covering local election administration in key states through the election.
- League of Women Voters New Jersey Education Fund: $25,000 to leverage New Jersey’s nonprofit communities, the League of Women Voters’ expertise, and Dodge’s network of grantees to encourage meaningful, ongoing civic dialogue and community participation leading up to the November election and beyond.
- NAACP NJ State Conference: $25,000 for its ongoing work to support education around the importance of civic engagement and its impact on decision-making and civil rights.
- New Jersey Institute for Social Justice: $100,000 to advance policies that promote the enfranchisement of BIPOC voters and provide additional resources for the organization’s existing work in run-up to the election.
- Project Ready: $25,000 to help prepare its constituents to make well-informed choices, to improve voter engagement and education, and support for the development of a how-to video on mail in the ballot process.
Dodge also made four Arts grants totaling $72,000 to support organizations in stabilizing operations, adapting programming, and responding to the needs of their communities.
- Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District: $20,000 for continued support for efforts to promote and engage residents and stakeholders through the arts in the Newark Lincoln Park neighborhood and to identify and track creative businesses to develop a comprehensive plan to support and grow its creative economy.
- Trenton Downtown Association: $12,000 for community-based arts engagement projects and programs to connect residents and stakeholders and center the arts in community development and transformation.
- University of Orange: $20,000 for virtual and socially distanced community music events to address critical community issues, connect residents and stakeholders, and celebrate community assets through music.
- Urban League of Essex County: $20,000 for community engagement around arts, creativity, and technology and post COVID-19 re-imagining in the Fairmount Heights neighborhood in Newark.
More than $1 million of Dodge’s COVID-19 response funds came from the Foundation’s administrative, operating, and grants budgets, while the majority of these recent grants were made from additional spending approved from Dodge’s endowment.
Dodge responded quickly after the pandemic, signing onto the Council on Foundations’ Pledge and committing to stand with and support the nonprofit sector and its grantee partners, work with trusted philanthropic partners to support the emergency needs of communities, intensify its commitment to equity, steward its financials for the long-term benefit of an equitable New Jersey. Dodge’s response has been tailored to the phases of the disaster life cycle model and its values of being respectful of and flexible to the needs of its nonprofit partners.