In May 2023, we announced our first-ever Open Call for racial justice organizations, looking to fund and support organizations across our State that have not previously had access to Dodge Foundation funding. More than 120 organizations from across the State answered that call, and today, we are thrilled to announce the ten organizations we are supporting from our first-ever Open Call process.
We have been building towards this moment for years because we believe this process is critical to achieving a just and equitable New Jersey. These ten organizations will join our community of racial justice organizations, including the non-profit partners we’ve supported through our Imagine a New Way initiative over the last four years and the organizations selected through a community-engaged grantmaking process in our Momentum Fund. Working together and alongside each other, these organizations strengthen civil society and build towards justice and equity in our State from all angles. We have intentionally developed multiple pathways to accessing our support because we believe that these strategies, when woven together, begin to break down some of the barriers that we know exist across philanthropy.
Toward this end, the Open Call was designed to do three things:
- Create a pathway for us to connect in new places and spaces with organizations that previously did not receive our support, particularly grassroots and community-driven organizations.
- Learn more about critical racial justice issues, organizations, and opportunities across the State.
- Further embed principles of openness and accessibility into our grantmaking process. We know invite-only grantmaking, as the sole pathway to access, can perpetuate an inequitable funding cycle where more established or networked organizations have an increased means to access continuous funding.
The ten organizations selected through this process all shared a few key themes. These organizations outlined a clear vision and deep understanding of racial justice, have a systems-change approach, and demonstrated community buy-in and engagement of multiple stakeholders. We’re thrilled to share that the following organizations will receive support from our Open Call process, totaling $500,000 in grants:
- $75,000 – Laundry Workers Center is a grassroots non-profit organization that organizes low-wage immigrant workers to advocate for better working conditions and labor protections. Their programming includes worker education and leadership development to improve low-wage immigrant workers’ living and working conditions, particularly in the food service, laundry, and warehouse workers, through the organizing process.
- $75,000 – Monarch Housing Associates works with communities and developers to address housing insecurity, and they deploy a multi-pronged strategy to strengthen the affordable housing sector in New Jersey. Through their work, they advocate for the resources to address housing and homelessness, for changes to rules and implementation that limit opportunities for developers of color to access resources, and for the integration of equity into the conversations around housing and homelessness.
- $75,000 – Perinatal Health Equity Initiative addresses New Jersey’s high mortality rates for Black mothers and infants. In their work, PHEI aims to shift the policy landscape that currently does not provide the adequate infrastructure to support maternal health in Black communities. They also address the immediate need for access to care by supporting mothers and connecting them with resources.
- $50,000 – Camden FireWorks is a Black-integrated, community-based arts organization in south Camden, NJ, that uses the arts to promote social change and reshape the narrative of Camden. Through their programming, Camden FireWorks engages populations traditionally excluded from Camden’s storytelling and provides opportunities for them to re-present the city from their lived experiences. The public art and curated exhibits that Camden FireWorks promotes, in partnership and on its own, revolve around the themes of a sense of place, identity and belonging, and environmental justice. They also work to identify, support, and elevate emerging artists and artists of color.
- $50,000 – The Center for Justice-Impacted Students works with currently and formerly incarcerated students to devise and present policy solutions that address the most prevalent issues facing youth in the criminal legal system. Key issues that have been identified relate to housing, mental health services, and case management. They also provide academic programming, degree pathways, and reentry support in partnership with justice-impacted youth detained within New Jersey’s Juvenile Detention Centers, Juvenile Justice Commission facilities, and for justice-impacted students on campus.
- $50,000 – Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation is a nonprofit organization in support of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Nation. They preserve and restore the economic, social, cultural, sacred, and environmental assets of the Ramapough Munsee ancestral lands through advocacy and organizing. The organization has three core focus areas: Environmental Justice, Food Sovereignty, and Historic Preservation.
- $50,000 – Redhawk Indigenous Arts Council is an Indigenous arts and cultural organization. They work against Indigenous peoples’ historical and current erasure in the NJ/NY region and across North America. In their work, they participate in and support the Indigenous community in advocating for land and water rights and against other manifestations of colonialism. RIAC also engages in various narrative change campaigns, advocating against mascots representing Indigenous caricatures and elevating issues like missing Indigenous women.
- $25,000 – Minority Cannabis Academy works to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, particularly those whose livelihood has been negatively impacted by cannabis policy. Through their work, MCA provides sector-capacity-building support and closes the gap between the current policy that prioritizes BIPOC entrepreneurs for licenses and the additional resources and education needed to open up a cannabis business. They provide workforce development training and connect entrepreneurs with resources to begin and sustain their businesses. MCA is working to invert and repair the role that cannabis has had on BIPOC communities.
- $25,000 – New Jersey Black Empowerment Coalition is a statewide nonprofit organization at the intersection of policy, democracy, and civic participation, working towards racial justice in New Jersey. They seek to counter racial inequities, including the harm of disinvestment, by empowering communities of color to participate in the “cornerstone” right of democracy: voting. The organization educates key stakeholders and the broader public about relevant policy issues, encouraging active citizenship and inclusive democracy to achieve sustainable change.
- $25,000 – Unidad Latina en Acción is a grassroots migrant justice organization that educates, empowers, and organizes migrant communities to defend and protect human and civil rights. Their mission is to organize and advocate for the migrant community criminalized by police-ICE collaboration, local enforcement, racial profiling, and the detention and deportation system.
While this announcement is the culmination of our work to create a new, open, and accessible pathway for support, we know this is just the beginning. We had the privilege of getting to know more than 120 organizations working towards a just and equitable New Jersey, well beyond the ten we selected from this process. There are organizations working across our State – in every county and community – addressing issues of inequity and injustice. Looking ahead, we want to find ways to continue to strengthen and grow the entire justice-centered nonprofit sector. We cannot do this on our own, and we are eager to connect with more allies and values-aligned funders who share this vision.
One thing is clear from this process – there are people, networks, and organizations in every community fighting injustice. We remain eager to listen to them and to continue to find new pathways to support them.
Tanuja Dehne is President & CEO of the Dodge Foundation where, alongside her team, she is leading the Foundation’s transformation into an anti-racist organization dedicated to realizing a just and equitable New Jersey.