Mayor Steven Fulop has announced that more than 150 recipients will receive grant funding from roughly $2 million in private donations collected through the Mayor’s COVID-19 Community Relief Distribution Fund.
The first grants will support community-based organizations and the revitalization of the arts community, as well as summer recreation and enrichment programming for Jersey City’s youth.
The awardees include 119 artists and arts organizations chosen by the Jersey City Arts Council, 12 summer youth nonprofit organizations, 11 art program organizations, and 12 community-based organizations, receiving grants ranging from $5,000 to $65,000.
“We have been working proactively throughout this pandemic to prepare for the aftermath and to be able to provide as much assistance as possible to our severely impacted community,” Fulop said.
“True heroes have emerged in recent months, from our first responders and front-line workers to those who have generously donated to the Relief Fund and the community organizations who are committed to reopening; and we need to continue working together to ensure a recovery that will revitalize and rebuild our foundation for a sustainable future.”
The grants will be distributed through the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
The awardees were selected by the mayor-appointed Jersey City COVID-19 Relief Committee, which includes members of the city council, mayoral administration, and JCEDC board members.
Awardees include $65,000 to the Jersey City Parks Coalition; the Hudson County Boys & Girls Club and New City Kids will receive $50,000 each to develop youth recreation, enrichment, and employment programs, focusing on outdoor activities that addressing public health social-distancing guidance.
Naquasha Hawkins, founder and CEO of nonprofit Creative Kidz at 758 Ocean Ave., will receive $15,000.
She said growing up in Salem Lafayette Court, she and other kids had only the Boys & Girls Club to turn to with no outlet for art and creativity.
“I always wanted to open an arts center for the kids of this community where I was born and raised, but a month after my grand opening the pandemic hit, and it went downhill fast,” she said. “This money couldn’t have come at a better time, and I’m just so grateful that someone thought of me, to help me help families dealing with their own issues amid this crisis.”
All first-round grant recipients are listed on the JCEDC’s website www.JCEDC.org.
Funding for the arts
The Arts Relief funding is being administered with the Jersey City Arts Council (JCAC). The committee is allocating $100,000 to the council to manage applications and award grants to the artist community, severely underfunded by the state and among the most financially strained amid the pandemic.
The JCAC will award grants to 119 artists and arts organizations in the amounts of $500, $1,000 or $3,000 to create arts programming, with a priority on arts education for children and arts that help revitalize commercial areas reopening.
“The Arts Council is grateful that the Mayor and EDC recognize the importance of supporting the arts community through this crisis,” said Co-Chair of JCAC Heather Warfel-Sandler. “We are hopeful that this is the first of many steps toward continued support for the arts which bring so much depth and diversity to our city.”
“I’m so grateful to the donors whose generosity will help the community at large as we work together and use this pivotal moment as an opportunity to come back stronger than ever,” Fulop said.
The list of grant awardees was posted at JerseyCityArtsCouncil.org on July 17. According to Warfel-Sandeler, recipients include Kennedy Dancers, Kyle Marshal Dance Company, Con Vivo Music, Deep Space Gallery, Jersey City Writers, and Thinking in Full Color.
Next month, the second round of relief funding will be dedicated to the Jersey City Hardship Relief Grant, established to work through community-based nonprofits to provide direct funding to residents most in need in the wake of the pandemic.
“Remaining funds will be awarded to nonprofit organizations to provide direct financial aid and supports to low-income families, including rent relief,” said Vice-Chair of the JCEDC Vivian Brady-Philips. “The JCEDC is working with city departments and agencies to design this program, which will provide aid to residents regardless of immigration status.”
Funding will primarily address food insecurity and rental assistance.
The Hardship Relief Grant will assist residents with landlord-tenant and other legal services, benefits counseling, immigrant rights, and related services.