The Fund for Women and Girls of the Princeton Area Community Foundation has awarded a record $325,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations.

This funding is the largest amount awarded in any cycle of the Fund’s more than 20-year history and includes a first-time award for the Liz Gray Erickson Memorial Grant, a 3-year grant given in memory of the Princeton resident who served as the chair of the Fund from 2012 to 2014.

“Thanks to the generosity and commitment of our Fund for Women and Girls members, we’ve awarded more than $1 million in grants to more than three dozen nonprofits in the last five years,” said Jenifer Morack, Fund Co-Chair.

Fund members pool their donations, then recommend grants to be awarded annually to local nonprofits. Isabel Zisk, Fund Co-Chair, said making a gift to the Fund is incredibly effective. Individual donations create a leveraged pool of funding that greatly benefits nonprofits working to impact the well-being of women, girls and communities in our region.

“We do what no individual donor has the expertise, time or access to do,” she said, explaining that the Fund’s Grants Committee members read dozens of applications and conduct site visits with nonprofits. “Because of some very generous gifts, this year, we have the honor of awarding the Liz Gray Erickson Memorial Grant. With her visionary leadership, Liz planted the seeds of our grantmaking focus.”

HomeWorks Trenton, which was honored with this grant, reflects Erickson’s values of service, respect, inclusion, and leadership, she said.

“We are honored and grateful to receive the inaugural Liz Gray Erickson Memorial Grant this year,” said Natalie Tung, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of HomeWorks Trenton. “Thank you so much to the Fund for Women and Girls for all your support and for your intentional and thoughtful approach to supporting nonprofits in our community. We are so excited to work hand in hand with you over the next three years to continue building a space where our scholars will achieve academic and social-emotional growth and gain more confidence in who they are, and are becoming, as young women leaders of our community.”

The grant recipients were announced at the Fund’s Annual Grantmaking Celebration. This year’s virtual event also included a panel discussion on Trust-Based Philanthropy, with Moderator Nelida Valentin, Community Foundation Vice President of Grants and Programs, and panelists Leslie Koppel, Executive Director of RISE in Hightstown, and Michelle Thompkins, Director of Youth Engagement at Millhill Child & Family Development in Trenton. Trust-Based Philanthropy speaks to the relationship between funders and grantees and presents an opportunity to cultivate relationships of mutual trust and partnerships. A few pillars of practice in this approach include a commitment to simplify and streamline paperwork, to solicit and act on feedback, and to provide support beyond a check.

“At the Community Foundation we take great pride in working alongside the Fund for Women and Girls and we truly appreciate the philanthropic commitment of Fund members,” said Valentin. “RISE and Millhill are examples of a longstanding relationships between the Fund and community nonprofit organizations.”

The following grants were awarded at the celebration:

$25,000, 1-year grants:

  • Children’s Home Society in Trenton to expand its bilingual doula program by training local women to become doulas and providing care to more than 60 new mothers. Doulas increase mothers’ level of social support to reduce stress, screen mothers for postpartum depression, and improve birth outcomes.
  • LifeTies in Ewing for its Transitional/Rapid Rehousing project, which provides critical housing and support for young Mercer County women who are parents, pregnant, unaccompanied, or experiencing homelessness.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Burlington and Mercer Counties in Ewing to train and supervise community volunteers appointed by the Family Court to serve Mercer County foster children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. The volunteers work to ensure the emotional, physical and educational well-being of the children until they are placed in permanent homes.
  • Princeton Nursery School in Princeton to renovate its two children’s bathrooms, which serve 45 children. The school provides high‐quality childcare to low‐income families.

$50,000 2-year grant:

  • KinderSmile in Trenton for its Perinatal Health Program, which offers desperately needed dental work to pregnant/postpartum mothers and helps create a cycle of consistent dental care for their families.

$75,000 3-year grant:

  • Arm in Arm in Trenton for its Still Standing program, which addresses the basic needs of single mothers and their families, teaching them the skills needed to create long‐term stability and economic mobility. 

Liz Gray Erickson Memorial Grant: $75,000, 3-year grant:

  • Homeworks Trenton in Trenton to support its community‐based, after-school residential program where Black and Brown high school girls living with adverse systemic issues can receive evidence‐based programming that leads to academic success. The program also helps girls develop the social/emotional and life skills to be successful in school and beyond.

The Fund also awarded an additional $25,000 to the Community Foundation’s Annual Fund. The Fund’s work is supported by the Community Foundation, whose staff provides services to the field of interest fund. The grant was provided in support of the Community Foundation’s mission of promoting philanthropy to advance the well-being of our communities forever.