Planet Princeton

Princeton Area Community Foundation Announces Grants to 22 Local Nonprofits

Madison Charles, Ira Stone, and GrandPal Jan Johnson enjoy a book together. The Grandpals program is one of 22 recipients of Greater Mercer Grants from the Princeton Area Community Foundation.
Madison Charles, Ira Stone, and GrandPal Jan Johnson enjoy a book together. The Grandpals program is one of 22 recipients of Greater Mercer Grants from the Princeton Area Community Foundation.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has awarded $570,000 to 22 local nonprofit agencies that serve people in Mercer County.

“Our Greater Mercer Grants program is made possible by the generous support of our donors,” said Carol Herring, the chair of the Community Foundation’s board of trustees. “Their support allows us to grant funds to nonprofits that provide critical services to the residents in our communities.”

More than half of the 22 organizations receiving grants work with children.

The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen’s Send Hunger Packing program provides more than 350 children with care packages of weekend meals to take home every Friday. Send Hunger Packing ensures that area children in free lunch or reduced-price lunch programs who eat breakfast and lunch in school weekdays do not go hungry on weekends.

The Princeton YMCA’s Princeton Young Achievers program provides after-school tutoring and enrichment program for economically-disadvantaged children who attend Princeton elementary schools.

The Passage Theatre Company offers arts education programs to Trenton Central High School students.

“These grants show our commitment to providing funding to agencies that serve our most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, domestic violence survivors, and children living in poverty,’’ said Jeffrey Vega, president and CEO of the Community Foundation.

Organizations receiving 2015 Fall Greater Mercer Grants also include a nonprofit that pairs senior citizens with schoolchildren for a reading program, several agencies that run after-school programs for young people, and a nonprofit that provides tennis lessons and academic enrichment for youngsters from under-served communities.

“We really appreciate the support from the Community Foundation,” said Damion Parran, the managing director of Passage Theatre Company. “This grant will definitely help Passage continue to meet its goal of reaching out to the community of Trenton as well as greater Mercer County.”

Susan Hoskins, the executive director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center, said the grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation helps support the center’s Grandpals coordinator. Through that program, senior citizens read to Princeton schoolchildren. Grandpals helps the center fulfill its mission of making sure older adults are viewed as assets in their communities, Hoskins said.

“It’s such a marvelous program,” she said. “There are benefits to everybody involved – the children get attention and encouragement, and the older adults know that they are making a difference.”

Sam Frisby, the CEO of the YMCA of Trenton, said his agency was grateful to be selected by the Princeton Area Community Foundation as a grant recipient.

“This funding does more than create a program to fill a temporary need in our community, which is economically challenged,” he said. “This funding will allow the Trenton Y to build its infrastructure and become self-sufficient while developing solutions for this community of great need. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime. Thank you for teaching us to fish.”

The full list of grantees:

Artworks – $30,000 for Building Community through Arts and Culture. The agency works to make art accessible to everyone by bringing together art students, amateur and professional artists and community members. Its programs include adult and youth art education programs and Art All Night, a community event that drew more than 25,000 people last year.

Literacy New Jersey Inc. – $15,000 for adult literacy programs in Mercer County; the agency recruits and trains volunteers to provide free, one-on-one tutoring or small group instruction.

Mount Carmel Guild of Trenton – $25,000 for emergency assistance for the food pantry. Last year the agency served more than 19,000 people and distributed about 17,500 bags of food.

National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton – $15,000 for the Ashe Elite Student Athletic Program, which provides advanced tennis training, academic enrichment, and mentoring for students in grades 3 to 12. The program receives assistance from Princeton University student volunteers.

New Jersey Future – $50,000 for the Greater Trenton Initiative, an emerging nonprofit working to advance economic development and revitalization projects in Trenton, especially in the downtown area.

Passage Theatre Company – $25,000 for its Community Building Initiative. Programs includes one in which staff works with Trenton students in grades 3 through 12 to write and perform plays.

People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos – $20,000 for People and Stories for Individuals in Transition, which provides low-income residents with substantial access to literature. Program participants include senior citizens, formerly homeless mothers and at-risk youth in Trenton, East Windsor and Ewing. Participants read, interpret and discuss literature.

Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern NJ – $20,000 for its Responsible Choices program, which provides age-appropriate, medically-accurate, evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education through partnerships with local schools and faith- and community-based organizations.

Princeton Senior Resource Center – $15,000 for Grandpals, a program that promotes literacy and creates intergenerational bonds between students and older volunteers. About 90 volunteers are expected to read to about 325 kindergarten, first- and second-grade students this year.

Trenton Area Soup Kitchen – $25,000, for the Send Hunger Packing program, which provides supplemental weekend meals to more than 350 food-insecure children, ages 5- to 18-years-old. During the week, the students receive breakfast and lunch at their schools in Mercer County. The Send Hunger Packing program ensures they also have proper nutrition on weekends.

UrbanPromise Trenton – $25,000 for after-school homework, recreation and enrichment programs serving about 120 youngsters at three Trenton sites: Camp Promise, Camp Truth and Learning Lab. Some 14 teens work as StreetLeaders at the sites, helping to mentor the younger children.

VolunteerConnect – $25,000 for Enhancing the Capacity of Community Organizations, which provides training for community leaders to help them become effective members of nonprofit boards, then helps connect those leaders with nonprofits seeking board members. The agency also matches skilled volunteers with nonprofits for projects.

YMCA of Princeton – $25,000 for the Princeton Young Achievers program, an after-school program that serves about 85 children who live in affordable housing complexes and those who receive free and reduced-price school lunches.

Nine of the 22 agencies received unrestricted grants, which will allow them to build and strengthen their capacity to serve low-income residents and families:

Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County – $20,000

Dress for Success Mercer County – $25,000

Habitat for Humanity, Trenton Area – $25,000

HomeFront – $25,000

Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County – $20,000

PEI Kids – $25,000

Rescue Mission of Trenton – $25,000

Womanspace – $40,000

YMCA of Trenton – $50,000

The Community Foundation collaborates with charitable funds established at the foundation by individuals and families to support Greater Mercer Grants. The list of donors grows every year, and the Princeton Area Community Foundation welcomes the participation of those dedicated to supporting the nonprofit organizations that work on behalf of Mercer County residents.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation promotes philanthropy and builds communities across Mercer County and central New Jersey. The Community Foundation provides charitable giving expertise to individuals, nonprofits and corporations, and makes grants to nonprofit organizations. Since its founding in 1991, the Community Foundation has granted more than $43 million back into the community.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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