Announcing our first round and COVID-19 relief and response grants

April 17, 2020

Photo courtesy Roxey Ballet

At their first meeting of the year, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Trustees approved $4 million in grants to support New Jersey’s nonprofit sector, including $1 million in COVID-19 relief and response.

The Board met virtually to approve the first of the Foundation’s typical three grant cycles on March 30, weeks after the first case of the coronavirus was announced in New Jersey, a state of emergency was declared days later, and schools, businesses, and organizations, including Dodge, rapidly began shuttering offices and canceling events as new social distancing procedures were enacted to curb the spread of the novel disease.

“With crisis comes risk and opportunity, and since the realities of the COVID-19 public health crisis have unfolded, Dodge has been focused on opportunity,” Dodge President & CEO Tanuja Dehne said. “We have the opportunity to act swiftly and decisively to provide immediate funding for COVID-19-specific relief, to stabilize the non-profit sectors and systems we helped build, to shape the recovery and close the widening gap of social disparities that this pandemic has shined a glaring light on.”

Dodge Trustees approved 134 grants totaling $4,012,500. A full list of First Round Grants is here.

The Board approved more than $3 million in grants to support nonprofit organizations in Dodge’s arts, education, environment, informed communities, and other program areas. The grants include 36 totaling $1,060,000 in Arts, 12 totaling $387,500 in Education, 23 in $1,055,000 in Environment, three in $125,000 in Informed Communities, and nine totaling $360,000 in other areas.

The majority of grantees were part of Dodge’s regular March grants cycle, and these also included grants to organizations in later cycles that primarily work with and serve people and communities of color and are often at a disadvantage due to historical, institutional, and structural impediments that may be exacerbated because of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Relief and Response grants

The Board approved an additional $1 million in COVID-19 relief and response using funds from the Foundation’s administrative, operating, and unallocated grants budgets specifically to address the public health crisis.

A total of $600,000 was awarded to five pooled funds to support relief efforts aimed at issues and sectors outside of the Foundation’s program areas of focus, such as medical supplies and food and housing insecurity. In making these grants, the Foundation prioritized funds focused on immediate relief, those that have an equity frame that center the most vulnerable and are explicit about their definition, and that include trusted partners with expertise and deep relationships in the geographies and communities they are serving.

Grants to pooled funds include:

  • $300,000 to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund
  • $100,000 to Newark United Way
  • $100,000 to the South Jersey Response Fund at the Community Foundation of South Jersey
  • $75,000 to support Trenton initiatives awarded through the Princeton Area Community Foundation
  • $25,000 to support New Jersey dancers through the Coronavirus Dance Relief Fund of Dance NYC

Finally, a total of $400,000 in rapid response and systems impact grants of $5,000 and $10,000, including one $25,000 grant, were awarded to 56 nonprofit organizations to help stabilize their operations, adapt their programming, and respond to the needs of their communities. In making these grants, the Foundation prioritized organizations that are most vulnerable to economic instability, advancing equity, or stewarding a unique cultural asset as well as critical intermediaries and membership, network-support, and advocacy organizations.

Nonprofit organizations that received rapid response and systems impact grants include: 

  • Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, Artworks, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, Bayshore Center at Bivalve, Camden City Garden Club, Camden Repertory Theater Community Development Group, Cape May Stage, Center for Community Arts, Center for Environmental Transformation, Center for Nonprofits, Chalkbeat Newark, City Green, Clean Water Fund, coLAB Arts, Nourish NJ, Conservatory of Music and Performing Arts Society, Creative New Jersey, Education Law Center, Foodshed Alliance, Gallery Aferro, GlassRoots, Greater Newark Conservancy, Institute of Music for Children, Ironbound Community Corporation, Isles, Jazz House Kids, Leadership Newark, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, Luna Stage, Movement Alliance Project, Millville Development Corporation, Montclair State University Center for Cooperative Media, Morristown Neighborhood House, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Shelterforce, New City Kids, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Theatre Alliance, New Jersey Tree Foundation, Newark Arts Council, Newark Arts Council for the Newark Arts Education Roundtable, Newark Public Radio, Newark School of the Arts, Newark Trust for Education, Passage Theatre Company, Paterson Education Fund, Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts, Sister Cities Girlchoir, Stories of Atlantic City, Sustainable Jersey, Teach for America, Trenton Children’s Chorus, Trenton Music Makers, Union City Music Project, Urban League of Essex County, and Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts

In following a pledge of action related to COVID-19, the Foundation expedited its processes and made recommendations through its new equity framework designed with the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us,” which states that those most affected by and experienced in working on a problem are the best at creating solutions. Dodge has long been committed to providing flexible, general operating support and simplifying its application and reporting requirements. The Foundation also applies a three-year rolling average of the endowment value to determine spending each year so funding in one year doesn’t fall off a cliff.

“The goal of this initial phase of our response is to provide emergency aid to the most vulnerable communities in our state, including people and communities of color,” Dehne said. “The immediate steps we share above are just the beginning of our response. Drawing upon the lessons learned during Superstorm Sandy and best practices in the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, we have started to strategize on our second and third phase of grantmaking to pivot from relief to an equitable long-term recovery.”