The Community Foundation has a long history of helping nonprofits be the best they can be, because the well-being of our community is built on their finest work. Often behind the scenes, we offer perspective and skills to help organizations grow.
Photograph by Jessica Franko, courtesy of Trenton Children’s Chorus.
“You can’t stop to ask where you’ll be in three years if you have to wonder where you’ll find your next meal,” says Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) board president Mari Pearlman. Pausing to consider the future is a luxury many small nonprofits can’t afford when faced with the need to support and deliver services in the present.
TCC began in 1989 with eleven students and an all-volunteer staff. Today, more than a hundred young choristers attend twice-weekly rehearsals that include tutoring in math and reading. A third weekly session has been added to help academically struggling students.
Participation instills pride and broadens young singers’ horizons. The group has performed at the United Nations and at Governor Christie’s inauguration. Membership requires immense discipline, but the rewards are transformative; every single student who has stayed in the Chorus through high school has gone on to college.
TCC set its sights on serving two hundred students each year in a recently completed strategic plan. The plan was made possible by a three-year capacity building grant from the Trenton Funders Collaborative, a partnership between Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Mary Owen Borden Foundation, the Bunbury Company, and the Harbourton Foundation.
The Collaborative first convened in 1998 and has worked since then to provide multi-year strategic assistance to nonprofits. In 2006, the Collaborative committed $150,000, plus sustained professional guidance over three years, to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County (BBBS) as they moved through a major transition. Within two years, BBBS won awards as a top-performing national affiliate. Based on that success, the Collaborative identified TCC as an ideal partner for a similar initiative — a high-impact nonprofit with the potential to do, and be, even more.
“For the Trenton Children’s Chorus,” Pearlman explains, “capacity-building means applying a strategic view, while strengthening the people and systems that allow us to pursue our mission.” With this funding and guidance, TCC has implemented new strategic and development plans, and restructured its board and professional staff, to ensure it is positioned to thrive going forward.
“Even with the best will and work ethic in the world,” Pearlman adds, “we could not have hoped to expand and enhance what we do, as well and as quickly as we have, without this support.”