Princeton Area Community Foundation awards $545,000 to local non-profits

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has awarded $545,000 to 20 area non-profit organizations as part of the Greater Mercer Grants program. The program awards grants to non-profits that work with low-income residents and communities. About 75 percent of the organizations receiving grants this cycle run programs that help children.

“There are tens of thousands of children in need in our region, and through our Greater Mercer Grants program, we are working to alleviate child poverty,” said Carol Herring, chair of the Community Foundation’s board of trustees. “We are grateful for the support we receive from our generous community, which allows us to do this work.”

About 1,500 area children pass through the foster system each year because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. In Mercer County, one in five children likely began his or her first day of school on an empty stomach.

“The non-profits that receive our Greater Mercer Grants are helping these youngsters, as well as hundreds of other children and families in our region,” said Jeffrey Vega, president & CEO of the Community Foundation.

Mercer County ranks 14th in the state out of 21 counties for child well-being and about 17 percent of local children live in poverty, according to the New Jersey Kids Count 2016 report. This year, the Community Foundation will use the bulk of its Greater Mercer Grants funding to support organizations that serve children and adolescents living in poverty.

In 2016, 42 nonprofits received $1.09 million in Greater Mercer Grants from the Community Foundation. In this half-year grant cycle, 53 agencies applied for grants, requesting almost $1.3 million in funding. In addition to the 20 non-profits that were awarded Greater Mercer Grants, another eight non-profits received funding from the George H. and Estelle M. Sands Foundation. The Greater Mercer Grants program could not fund all eligible applicants, so the Sands Foundation offered to work with the Community Foundation to provide an additional $217,000 in grants.

Grant recipients are:

CASA of Mercer and Burlington Counties Mercer County Child Advocacy Program $25,000 – Judges appoint CASA volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children. Volunteers are assigned to each case until it is closed and the child is placed in permanent housing.

Family Guidance Center Children’s Day Treatment Program $20,000 – Low-income, at-risk children with mental health disorders receive intense mental health treatment and support services through this after-school program. During the summer, the program operates as a camp.

Kidsbridge Bullying Prevention & Diversity Appreciation Mobile Outreach Program for At-Risk Youth, $20,000 – Through a new mobile outreach program, Kidsbridge staff will present a bullying prevention and diversity appreciation program to students in grades three through six in Trenton, Hamilton and Ewing.

Literacy New Jersey Read to Succeed, $10,000 – The organization will provide free, basic literacy tutoring to about 100 adults in Mercer County. About 17 percent of New Jersey residents struggle to read. Many cannot fill out job applications, help their children with homework or read the instructions on a medicine bottle.

Mount Carmel Guild of Trenton Emergency Assistance Food Pantry, $25,000 – The non-profit provides a three- to five-day supply of nutritious food to those in need. In 2015, the guild distributed more than 20,000 food bags.

National Junior Tennis & Learning of Trenton Arthur Ashe Student Athlete Program $15,000 – Low-income children in grades 3 to 12 from Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing and Lawrence receive year-round advanced tennis training, as well as structured academic enrichment, mentoring, college preparation and job training. In the last four years, program graduates have been awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships.

People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos: Reading Deeply in Community, $20,000 – About 140 low-income, under-served adults and youth, including 60 who speak Spanish, will read, analyze and discuss complex literature through the lens of their own life stories.

Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey Responsible Choices, $20,000 – The program aims to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancy and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections by providing age-appropriate, medically-accurate, evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education through partnerships with local schools and community-based organizations.

Princeton Human Services Commission Summer Youth Employment Program, $20,000 – Low- and moderate-income Princeton residents or Princeton High School students ages 14- to 17-years-old, receive job opportunities, attend job-readiness and educational workshops and connect with positive adult role models. They also receive job coaching and lessons about financial literacy and goal setting.

Trenton Area Soup Kitchen Send Hunger Packing Program, $25,000 – More than 600 children ages 5 to 18 who are enrolled in 15 schools in Trenton, Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell and Lawrence receive supplemental weekend meals. TASK partners with Mercer Street Friends to deliver packs that children can slip into their backpacks every Friday. During the last fiscal year, the program distributed more than 60,000 meals.

Urban Promise Trenton After-School StreetLeader Program, $25,000 – About 25 at-risk Trenton youth receive meaningful jobs and training, along with academic assistance, college preparation, leadership training, and life skills development. The StreetLeaders provide support and mentoring to younger students participating in Urban Promise’s after-school and summer camp programs.

Passage Theatre Company Building Community Project, $50,000 – The grant will be used to help support the project’s key activities, including main stage and educational programming, a middle school touring performance of stories from Mercer County Holocaust survivors, and a new collaboration with Trenton’s Christina Seix Academy.

VolunteerConnect Enhancing the Capacity of Community Organizations, $25,000  – The non-profit runs a board training program to help develop more effective non-profit boards, provides skills-based volunteers to get critical strategic projects completed, and offers educational forums for leaders.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County, $25,000 – About 2,600 students ages 5 to 18 participate in educational, enrichment and career-preparation programs after-school, on weekends, and over the summer.

Greater Trenton, $45,000 – The agency is working to advance economic development and revitalization projects in Trenton, with an emphasis on the downtown area.

HomeFront, $45,000 – The organization’s mission is to address the needs of the homeless through various programs, including its family preservation center, transitional housing and permanent, affordable rental units for working, low-income families.

PEI Kids, $25,000 – More than 12,000 children and their families are served annually by the non-profit, which provides programming on issues including child assault, sexual abuse, bullying, gang culture and online threats.

Trenton Children’s Chorus, $20,000 – More than 170 children attending schools in the region in grades K-12 receive vocal training, drumming and piano instruction, and intense academic support.

Womanspace, $40,000 – The non-profit serves victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assault. Its programs include a hotline, counseling and support services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing.

YMCA of Trenton, $45,000 – The non-profit provides a variety of services for the community, including health screenings, healthy living classes, after-school activities, parental engagement programs and quality of life programs for seniors.