Jersey Give Back Guide: NJ Tree Foundation

December 18, 2014

NJ Tree residents

Throughout December, we are highlighting each of the organizations featured in our Jersey Give-Back Guide, an online portal for year-end giving that makes it easy to donate to some of New Jersey’s most effective nonprofits. Today we feature NJ Tree Foundation

Environment2Organization name: New Jersey Tree Foundation

Connect: Website | @NJTrees | Facebook

Communities served: The NJ Tree Foundation has planted 201,706 trees throughout New Jersey. All of these trees were planted by hand with residents and local volunteers or with employees of our transitional program.

Founded: 1998

Get Generous: Make a Year-end Gift

NJ Tree Green Streets CrewWHAT WE DO: The NJ Tree Foundation works to improve the environment throughout New Jersey through green infrastructure projects such as planting large trees, removing concrete to create tree pits, and planting and maintaining rain gardens.

Our Camden and Newark community-based tree planting programs provide free trees (usually over 10 feet tall) to residents who help organize a planting event and adopt the trees. In these cities, we plant trees only where a community member is willing to care for them for at least two years.

We host workshops teaching the skills needed to care for trees and provide attendees with tools and educational materials to equip them as tree stewards. We organize similar community-based tree planting projects in other New Jersey towns when funding allows us the opportunity. Our Green Streets Program hires men in a reentry facility to learn landscaping and tree planting skills.

Through Green Streets and community-based planting projects, we have recently worked with several towns that lost large numbers of trees during Superstorm Sandy, helping them reforest by planting large trees in public places and offering county-wide tree giveaways to residents. We also planted and now maintain the Grove of Remembrance, a 10.8-acre living memorial that contains over 800 trees to commemorate the New Jersey victims of September 11, 2001.

The NJ Tree Foundation’s mission is to increase the tree canopy and improve the quality of life in New Jersey cities and towns. Trees improve people’s mental health and foster safer communities. Our tree planting events transform city streets into welcoming neighborhoods. We partner with communities to drastically improve their landscape while providing meaningful volunteer opportunities to thousands of people.

WHY WE’RE GREAT: We could tell you why we believe in our work but our tree recipients, volunteers, and Green Streets alumni do it best.

Here are some of their thoughts:

  • “Before we had trees, it was an empty block. After the trees were planted, it gave residents empowerment and pride. When residents came out, they had something right in front of their homes — something that made a difference in their everyday lives. Once residents feel empowered, they take steps to beautifying their blocks. On this block, we added flowers and decorations to our tree pits, window boxes to our homes, and benches to our sidewalks. We brought all of the beautiful things you see in other healthy communities right here. Now, when you look down our street, you can see and FEEL our community. You feel welcomed and happy here, and residents feel that way every time they come home. That is why the NJ Tree Foundation is such a blessing.” — Pino, Camden resident/tree recipient
  •  “It was an incredible day of partnering between our two organizations. Our volunteers expressed great satisfaction in participating in beautifying our neighborhood. It was a very organized event and went off without a hitch. The volunteer turnout was so great that we completed planting 30 trees in less than 2 hours!!! The foundation’s work helped validate our community’s belief that TREES ARE GOOD and necessary!” – Rose, Newark resident/volunteer
  • “I had fun from the first day I started. I learned that you plant trees in the spring or fall. I learned that it feels good to finally give back instead of taking. I looked forward to coming to work every day! I’m so sad that it is over, but glad that I had this experience. Thank you!” – Michael, Green Streets alumnus

HOW YOUR DONATION WILL HELP: Your donation will help us transform communities through tree planting. We use donations to purchase trees, print educational materials to help tree recipients care for their trees, and purchase tools, gloves, and water for volunteers at tree planting events. Planting large trees has an instant impact on neighborhoods, and as Pino described, the residents see and feel this positive change every time they walk out of their homes.

ADDITIONAL NEEDS: During the fall and spring planting seasons we seek volunteers to help plant trees in Camden and Newark. We plant rain or shine, so dress for the weather and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty! Tree planting events are fun and family friendly.

Planting large trees is hard work – be ready to dig holes, work with other volunteers to maneuver trees into their tree pits (some trees can weigh up to 500 pounds!), and mulch to finish off the job. No experience is necessary as we provide a planting demonstration at the beginning of every event. You can find out more information on the “Volunteer” page of our website which will also link to the planting schedules when they become available for the next season.

In addition to our need for volunteers and cash donations, we are in need of in-kind donations of tools such as shovels, rakes, brooms, and gardening gloves. We plant approximately 1,000 trees annually and some of our events have up to 100 volunteers. We wear tools down frequently and always need replacements. If you are interested in donating tools please email our Director of Urban Forestry Initiatives, Jessica, at


Note: This video was recorded in 2010. Program updates: The Newark Renaissance Trees Program has planted 2,034 trees with more than 4,700 volunteers. The Camden Urban Airshed Reforestation Program has planted 5,400 trees with close to 12,000 volunteers. The Green Streets Program has planted 11,005 trees and employed 59 parolees.

— Lisa Simms, New Jersey Tree Foundation Executive Director


The Dodge Foundation is offering $1,000 challenge grants to each of the organizations featured in the Jersey Give-Back Guide. To be eligible, each organization must receive at least 50 donations through the Guide by December 31st. Help them reach their goal and get that extra $1,000!