(Englewood, New Jersey; November 20, 2017) -- The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) joined more than 780 community foundations across the United States to celebrate Community Foundation Week, November 12 to 18. Created in 1989, the week raised awareness about the vital role these philanthropic organizations spearhead developing local collaboration and innovation to address civic and economic challenges.
Making a Difference
The NNJCF's mission is to improve community life through its work in education, public health, civic engagement, the arts, philanthropy, and the environment in the region. Central to its success is fostering collaboration among all community sectors and joining with civic partners to answer, "What can we do together that we cannot alone?". In recognition of the organization's collaborative work to resolve issues in the region, Flat Rock Brook Nature Association honored this year the NNJCF and its President, Michael Shannon, with the Trustee Award.
Community foundations are independent, public entities that steward philanthropic resources from institutional and individual donors to local nonprofits that are the heart of strong, vibrant communities. “This year, the Foundation continued to partner with municipalities, non-profits, and community members to build stronger communities in Bergen County through creativity and collaboration. NNJCF has worked to use the arts as an economic and community development tool and funded public health and education initiatives to provide solutions to important issues," said Shannon.
Art Connects Communities
NNJCF's flagship initiative, ArtsBergen, worked with the Hackensack Main Street Business Alliance and Creative Hackensack to revitalize the downtown business district through creative placemaking -- the integration of arts and culture into an area to foster collaboration in communities. The NNJCF collaborated on the Utility ARTBox project involving eight artists painting murals on eight utility boxes with anti-littering messaging. The Foundation also issued a Call to Artists for and managed the project, providing arts-based work opportunities for eight artists. A second project featured the public art installation, “Art on a Stick: Raccoons”, 40 anthropomorphic raccoons, animating and transforming spaces at the Johnson Public Library.
ArtsBergen presented four Connect the Dots networking and performance events focusing on creative placemaking that attracted artists, municipal leaders, business owners, and others throughout the region. The programs were facilitated by these area leaders in the arts community: Michael Bias from The Garage Theatre, Dusha Holmes II, Elissa Machlin-Lockwood from the Center for Modern Dance Education, and Leo Vasquez of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.
The Foundation advised organizations and municipalities about the benefits of creative placemaking. Staff also served on the Bergen LEADS' seminar panel on the arts discussing the importance of creative placemaking in communities.
The NNJCF, an independent, publicly supported philanthropic organization, gave people the opportunity to pursue their philanthropic interests through donor advised funds. This year, the Foundation's funds awarded grants from The Andrea Tilbian Halejian Memorial Fund to the Armenian General Benevolent Union for Armenian Genocide education and provided a college scholarship from The Class of 1964 Ralph Gregg Memorial Scholarship. As a co-founder of Englewood Idol, the NNJCF awarded a grant to this event spotlighting the talent of up-and-coming teenage performers in the city to raise funds for the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund. Grants were also awarded to support a creative placemaking conference, an arts and music festival, arts advocacy in New Jersey, and environmental purposes.
The NNJCF carried out its mission to build communities through collaboration by assisting a local civic group to find a solution for the best use of a former school. In observance of Earth Month, a collection of art supplies was undertaken and presented to the Teaneck Creek Conservancy's art and science programs for children. In the area of public health, the NNJCF identified oral health as an issue in the county and collected oral care and dental hygiene products for Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative's underresourced patients.
The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Englewood, New Jersey, focuses primarily on education, public health, civic engagement, environment, and the arts. NNJCF works with local governments, school districts, businesses, non-profit organizations, and citizen groups in Northern New Jersey to improve community life. Foundation partners identify and resolve regional problems and opportunities by talking and learning from each other and by sharing ideas, best practices, services, and resources.