The New Jersey Recovery Fund today announced 27 grants totaling nearly $3.8 million to pursue smart recovery decisions that will help New Jersey avoid repeating the type of devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. The Fund has awarded grants to a range of organizations focused on three broad categories: planning and public policies that promote community resiliency and environmental protection; engaging and informing the public about recovery decisions; and using the arts to foster individual and community healing and revitalization in impacted communities.
“The billions of dollars that will be spent on recovery offer a window of opportunity to protect our communities and state economy from future devastation – if we make smart decisions,” said Community Foundation of New Jersey President Hans Dekker. “The choices we make now about how these public and private funds are spent, and where we rebuild will directly determine how we weather the next storm.”
The Fund focuses on bold, long-term solutions that promote economic vitality, healthy ecosystems, strong and engaged communities, government transparency and a fair distribution of recovery resources. Fund grantees will work in collaboration in order to increase their impact on recovery and to strengthen the nonprofit community in New Jersey. Hosted by the Community Foundation of New Jersey with a lead gift from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey Recovery Fund is a joint effort between local and national foundations, New Jersey corporations and individuals to support local nonprofit organizations working in communities affected by Superstorm Sandy.
“We have both the opportunity and the responsibility following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy to not only help communities heal but make sure they are less vulnerable in future storms,” said the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation President and CEO, Chris Daggett. “The New Jersey Recovery Fund brings some of the strongest nonprofits in our state together to offer plans for sustainable rebuilding, provide outlets for communities to engage in decision making, and support local arts projects that help communities heal.”
“Recovery decisions impact not only those in shore communities but everyone in New Jersey who visits our beaches and depends on the strength and stability of our tourism economy,” added Dekker. “These grants will help support broad participation in recovery efforts in our state.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GRANTS
PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT: Policy Reform, Community Planning and Environmental Protection and Restoration Projects
The New Jersey Recovery Fund supports nonprofit organizations working to ensure that Superstorm Sandy recovery funds and related decisions promote environmentally sound planning and public policies that will protect communities and natural systems. This includes protecting our most vulnerable residents and engaging New Jerseyans in a transparent and inclusive recovery planning process.
Thirteen nonprofit organizations received a total of $2,595,000 in the planning and environment grant category. This includes grants to New Jersey Future and Sustainable Jersey for a combined $1.1 million to provide local recovery managers to some of the hardest-hit communities that lack the personnel and capacity for recovery planning, as well as statewide coordinators to assist multiple communities with long-term resiliency planning and to foster collaboration and partnership efforts between municipalities.
American Littoral Society will lead a team of partners including Clean Ocean Action, The Nature Conservancy and NY/NJ Baykeeper to develop and advocate for public policies that increase New Jersey’s coastal resilience and reduce recurring destruction from future storm events.
Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy received two grants: the first to engage leaders and residents in three impacted towns in regenerative community vision planning; the second to provide up-to-date data, analytics and mapping tools to support policy and planning efforts.
Additional grantees in the Planning and Environment category include: the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Bayshore Center at Bivalve, working in partnership to create a sustainable infrastructure plan for Delaware Bayshore communities; Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to restore critical Delaware Bayshore migratory bird and horseshoe crab habitat; and Fair Share Housing Center and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to ensure transparency in public decision making and equity in distribution of recovery funds and resources.
MEDIA: Public Information and Engagement
The New Jersey Recovery Fund recognizes the vital role that reliable, accessible news and information plays in the health and well-being of New Jersey’s communities. The Fund supports projects that inform and engage the public on the issues the state faces as it recovers from Superstorm Sandy.
Thirteen media grants totaling $750,000 were made, including a collaborative project between New Jersey Public Radio and NJ Spotlight entitled "Rebuilding After Sandy," a year-long effort which combines in-depth accountability journalism and community engagement to chronicle and support the recovery process.
In an effort to make sure communities engage in recovery decisions, WHYY, The Citizens Campaign, Creative NJ, Sustainable Jersey and Jersey Shore Hurricane News are partnering to: conduct community forums which help citizens identify problems and discuss community-based solutions; provide citizen journalism training; and foster ongoing civic participation. Sustainable Jersey will also establish the Community Information and Civic Engagement Taskforce to advance participatory models of citizen engagement and communications planning for municipalities.
Additionally, a grant to the NJ News Commons, an initiative of Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media supports micro-grants and training for existing and new hyperlocal news sites as well as for citizen journalists to encourage more news coverage in New Jersey, particularly in underserved areas throughout the state.
Other grantees include: Monmouth University’s Polling Institute to increase awareness of the long-term needs for NJ residents and provide access to recovery resource information; NJ.com to create the Sandy Recovery Scorecard in collaboration with the public and other NJ media; NJTV, New Jersey’s Public Television Network, to host an interactive town hall forum to discuss recovery issues; Washington Township to implement a municipal emergency communication plan which will also serve as a demonstration project for Sustainable Jersey; and a unique, location-based storytelling project created by Benjamen Walker and Francesca Panetta to tell the stories of Superstorm Sandy.
ARTS: Community-Driven/Participatory Arts Projects
The New Jersey Recovery Fund supports arts nonprofits that promote community healing and recovery through arts and creative expression. As neighborhoods and communities deal with displacement, blight and difficult decisions about reconstruction, the arts and creativity can play a valuable role in community healing and revitalization.
A total of six organizations received $431,000 in arts grants. Notably, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey are working with schools and communities in impacted areas to provide instruction in poetry, prose, playwriting and other arts programming to help with the healing and recovery process for residents of all ages.
In addition, the Monmouth County Arts Council has created the ArtHelps program to bring the healing power of the arts to communities in Monmouth and Ocean counties affected by Superstorm Sandy by developing community arts projects that will help them process their loss, heal and rebuild their spirits.
Additional arts grantees include: Atlantic City Ballet, which is creating an original work, entitled “In the Eye of the Storm;” Arts Horizons, focusing on Asbury Park through an art project entitled, “Table Talk;” and the Jewish Renaissance Foundation, which is collaborating with a variety of partners to further Perth Amboy’s recovery through creative placemaking and civic engagement activities.
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