New Program Priorities in Action: Dodge Foundation Announces New Grants and Learnings to Drive Towards Racial Justice

April 4, 2023

Salvation and Social Justice Community Street Team launch.
Participants at the launch of Salvation and Social Justice's Trenton Restorative Street Team (TRST), a group of professionally trained community engagement practitioners committed to promoting peace and healing through restorative justice practices and trauma-informed care. The TRST partners build strategic relationships by practicing the 5 L's method (Listen, Learn, Lament, Love, Lead). Photo by Shola Onitiri

(see all grants listed on our website)

In January of this year, the Dodge Foundation announced our new program priorities centered on racial justice, which is the focus of our grantmaking now and into the future. Announcing these priorities was a major milestone for our organization – while we have been making grants to racial justice organizations for a few years, most recently through our Imagine a New Way grantmaking launched in 2021, we have now clearly defined the levers and systems-change work that we believe will transform our State. We are working steadily, over the course of this year, to ensure that we are directing the majority of our funding to racial justice work. Today, we are pleased to announce our first grants of 2023, which are our first grants under our new program priorities, to organizations across New Jersey.

This most recent grant cycle also allowed us to launch new grantmaking processes to understand the underlying issues, or the root causes, of the inequities that organizations are working to address. We entered this cycle with a deep intention to understand more about why organizations are doing this work. It was important for us to learn how organizations leverage the strategies and tactics we identified as key levers for systems change.

We learned that some Imagine a New Way organizations have worked intensely in social and racial justice for some time, while others are emerging leaders. They engage across various issue areas and use systems-change strategies and tactics in several ways. Some are hyper-focused on a singular approach, like policy and advocacy or movement building and organizing, while others are activating multiple strategies and tactics. We know this work exists along a spectrum, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eliminating inequities and dismantling structural racism.

Across the Imagine a New Way portfolio, important themes did come through. These organizations:

  1. Possess a holistic social justice-oriented approach and philosophy across their entire organization;
  2. Recognize that their impacts are intended to operate on the level of societal change;
  3. Understand the root causes of the inequities they are trying to address and how societal structures perpetuate and exacerbate disparities; and
  4. Approach work in ways led by and/or rooted in community.

This year and into the future, we strive to support organizations whose work has a justice-centered approach, moving beyond addressing issues of representation and diversity. While representation matters, we are eager to support organizations tackling and reimagining the systems and structures built to shut out or disadvantage people of color in the first place.

This process also allowed us to practice and learn while applying a racial justice lens to our application, paving the way for us to launch our first Open Call application process later this year. We are so grateful to everyone who shared their work and perspectives with us.

Imagine a New Way Partners

This cycle, we are proud to provide 14 grants to partners leading organizations and initiatives that strategically build power, dismantle systems of injustice, and strengthen economic resilience. These organizations are:

$150,000 – New Jersey Institute of Social Justice to advocate for and empower people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice, and harness democratic power —from the ground up—in New Jersey.

$100,000 – Salvation and Social Justice, a Black-led faith-rooted organization that seeks to liberate public policy theologically by modeling the hope and resiliency of Black faith, where historically marginalized people move from lament to liberation by envisioning and creating their own community-led solutions to a structurally racist society.

$100,000 – New Jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan think tank that drives policy change to advance economic, social, and racial justice through evidence-based, independent research, analysis, and strategic communications.

$100,000 – Ironbound Community Corporation to engage and empower community members to realize their aspirations and work to create a just, vibrant, sustainable community.

$75,000 – The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, the largest membership-based immigration coalition in the state, to fight for policies that empower and protect immigrants.

$75,000 – Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective to accelerate and enhance professional development, information access, and opportunities for nonprofit professionals of color through intentional, curated experiences.

$70,000 – Isles, Inc. to foster self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities in Trenton, New Jersey.

$60,000 – City Green, a New Jersey urban farming and gardening nonprofit supporting school, youth, and community garden projects and associated education programs in urban communities while managing two Urban Farms, a mobile market program, and a statewide nutrition incentive program to promote community empowerment and increased access to fresh, local food.

$60,000 – Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to raise the visibility of Asian Americans by producing, and creating dances inspired by the immigrant’s journey, teaching authentic and creative dance in diverse and inclusive communities, and collaborating with artists who share similar values and goals.

$50,000 – Greater Newark Conservancy, Inc. to foster collaboration in community at the intersection of environmental, food, and racial justice to promote the health and well-being of Newark residents.

$40,000 – Yendor Arts to build a creative, educational, and transformative haven for emerging and established Black, Brown, and LGBTQIA+ artists.

$35,000 – Nimbus Dance Works to push the boundaries of the arts by innovating new work, collaborating with artists and arts organizations of all disciplines in Jersey City and beyond.

$20,000 – Frontline Arts to connect communities through socially engaging arts practices rooted in papermaking and printmaking.

$15,000 – Trilogy: An Opera Company to present and produce operas, focusing on the works of Black composers and subject matter relative to the Black experience.

In addition to these grants, we provided support to some long-standing partners who have been contributing to the vibrancy of our state.

Looking Ahead

We will continue learning throughout this year – in future grant cycles and in our first “Open Call” process that we will launch in May. We know that there are organizations working on and centering racial justice strategies and tactics whom we’ve never met and who might not know our Foundation. The “Open Call” will create a pathway for nonprofit organizations who have never received Dodge Foundation funding to connect with the organization and share about their work.

We look forward to making these new connections and discovering new potential for collaboration and collective impact.