The Princeton Area Community Foundation has awarded more than half a million dollars in grants to community organizations serving low-income residents in Mercer County.

The $545,000 awarded through the first round of the 2016 Greater Mercer Grants program will be used to support 22 nonprofit organizations.

“These grants will be used to help some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Carol P. Herring, the chair of the Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “With these grants, we are investing in our communities, helping them to grow stronger.”

More than 54 organizations applied for funding during this grant cycle.

“Our grants program helps support the critical work of local organizations,” said Jeffrey M. Vega, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The number of applications we received shows the great need we have in our community. Our new strategic plan includes a focus on children and adolescents living in poverty, and as we concentrate on this issue, we hope many local philanthropists will work with us.”

Nonprofits Serving Children

More than 60 percent of the organizations receiving grants serve children, and more than half are doing work in Trenton.

  • The Trenton Community Music School will use its grant to expand its string instruction at Grant Elementary School and to begin holding after-school classes at Dunn Middle School.
  • Thomas Edison State University Foundation will use its grant to help bring a successful Northern New Jersey teacher training program to Mercer County. The program will train educators working in 10 early childhood centers that serve low-income English Language Learners in this region.

“With our first group of fifth graders moving on from Grant School, it was time for us to launch a second site and to continue our Trenton Music Makers program into Dunn Middle School,” said Carol C. Burden, the Executive Director of the Trenton Community Music School. “Support from the Princeton Area Community Foundation is allowing us to hire additional teaching artists and to start building an afterschool orchestra for Trenton middle-schoolers, while continuing to grow a vibrant program at Grant Elementary School.”

Barbara George Johnson, JD, the Executive Director of The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, who oversees the Center for the Positive Development of Urban Children program at Thomas Edison State University said they were honored to receive the funding.

“The support is critical in expanding our New Jersey Cultural Competency and English Language Learners Summer Institute and Mentoring Program and guiding more early childhood educators in creating culturally competent classrooms,” she said. “It’s particularly gratifying that on our 10th anniversary of disseminating the program to numerous classrooms throughout N.J., the funding from the Community Foundation will support expansion in the institute’s home community of Mercer County.”

List of Grantees

Here’s the full list of organizations receiving grants:

Camp Fire NJ Inc., Let’s Thrive in Grade 5 and Become “Peer Proof” $15,000 – teaches Trenton fifth-graders interpersonal, decision-making and coping skills needed to deal with challenging situations. Camp Fire staff visits schools to teach the program.

Catholic Youth Organization, CYO’s Broad St. Trenton Center Childcare Programs for Children Ages 5-12 (After School & Summer) $25,000 – the after-school program provides tutoring, recreational and athletic activities for up to 125 low-income Trenton students; the summer program includes swimming, computer classes, arts and crafts, life skills for 175 children ages 6- to 12-years-old.

Rise – A Community Service Partnership, Summer Academic Enrichment Program, Hightstown, $25,000 – an affordable six-week summer program for 125 children, ages 5 to 18. It includes academic and life-skills classes, games and recreational activities.

Dress for Success Mercer County, Financial Literacy and Customer Service Excellence Program, Lawrenceville, $20,000 – A total of 75 women will receive financial literacy and customer service training to prepare them for sustainable employment.

D&R Greenway Land Trust, Capital City Farm Project $25,000 – support for Trenton’s first urban farm. Besides serving as a source of nutritious food, organizers hope to engage residents in the East Trenton neighborhood.

Every Child Valued, After-School Program $25,000 – provides intensive tutoring in small groups to students who live in Eggerts Crossing Village in Lawrenceville.

HiTOPS, HiTops’ Health and Risk-Reduction Education for High Risk Youth Populations, Princeton, $15,000 – provides medically-accurate, age-appropriate, prevention and risk-reduction education to young people

LifeTies Inc., Forever Family and Kin Connections Program, Trenton, $20,000 –a pilot permanence program for young people transitioning from group homes to adulthood; the organization operates two group homes: one for 14- to 18-year-olds with emotional, medical and behavioral challenges; the other for females, ages 12 to 21, who are pregnant, parenting, medically fragile or have emotional and behavioral challenges.

Meals on Wheels of Greater Mercer County, Ewing, $20,000 – more than 150 volunteers from around the county visit homebound, low-income residents, delivering 350 hot meals a day. The program also gives residents a chance for socialization; this year, the program began providing nutritional counseling and education and weekend meals.

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, Ending Chronic Homelessness in Trenton/Mercer: Reaching Functional Zero $25,000 – Following its success in ending veteran homelessness, the organization will embark on a project to end chronic homelessness; chronically homeless people are resistant to service, difficult to engage, and have a disability, primarily mental illness or substance abuse.

Mercer Street Friends, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank $25,000 –its food distribution programs serve about 30,000 children and adults; the organization provides food at pantries and soup kitchens and also provides weekend meals for almost 600 children faced with food shortages in their homes. Food packs are provided to students at schools in Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell, Lawrenceville, Princeton and Trenton.

Minding Our Business, Inc., Minding Our Business Summer Program: A Bridge to the Future for Mercer County Low-Income Youth, Lawrenceville, $20,000 – a summer program for low-income, middle school students that focuses on entrepreneurialism, but also includes reading, math and financial literacy lessons.

New Jersey Community Capital, Trenton Revitalization Initiative $40,000 – for continued revitalization efforts in Trenton; part of the grant will be used to leverage community building and beautification efforts.

Shiloh Community Development Corporation, Shiloh CDC Freedom School $20,000 – a summer program for 80 Trenton students that includes academic enrichment, workshops, afternoon sports activities, and social action, such as hosting food drives.

Thomas Edison State University Foundation, NJ Cultural Competency and English Language Learners Institute and Mentoring Program – Mercer County $20,000 – experts work with early childhood educators who teach about 200 low-income students at 10 early childhood centers; educators learn how to create culturally-responsive classrooms that support language acquisition, maximize family engagement and promote positive development of preschoolers.

Trenton Circus Squad, Trenton Circus Squad Program $25,000 – by learning circus skills, youth gain confidence and develop leadership skills and grit. The program provides job-readiness, leadership and social skills training to teens.

Trenton Community Music School, El Sistema-Trenton Program $25,000 – after-school string instruction program; the expanded program will serve 80 to 100 students in grades 3 through 8 at the two schools; children learn how to play the violin, viola, cello or double bass.

Operating Support:

The Community Foundation is one of the few foundations in this region that provides funding specifically for operating support. Operating grants help nonprofits pay for necessary expenses, such as rent or utilities, and allow those organizations to perform the work that is so critical to the populations that they serve.

  • Better Beginnings Child Development Center, Hightstown $30,000
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, Trenton $25,000
  • Arm In Arm (formerly Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc.,) Trenton $40,000
  • Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Trenton $30,000
  • Millhill Child & Family Development, Trenton $30,000

 The Princeton Area Community Foundation promotes philanthropy and builds community across Mercer County and central New Jersey. It helps people and companies make effective charitable gifts and awards grants to nonprofits. Since its founding in 1991, the Community Foundation has grown into an organization with more than $120 million in assets and made grants of over $75 million, including $16 million in 2015.