President’s Message | Stronger Together: Dodge Foundation Investing $2.8M in New Jersey’s Recovery and Resiliency

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
Imagine a New Way. Illustration by Layqa Nuna Yawar

As I have previously written in Our Path Toward a Just and Equitable New Jersey, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation seeks to address the needs of all New Jersey communities while addressing longstanding inequalities of economic, social, and political opportunity that hold us back as a state.  That approach is especially important now, as New Jerseyans face multiple challenges of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a continuing reckoning with racial injustice.  

The past two years have taught us that repairing unjust systems will require well-resourced backing from all of us. Coalition building that mobilizes the power of many toward sustained action has never been more important.  That is why I am pleased to announce a set of Crisis Response Grants and Mission Investments that, together, advance those interrelated goals.  Consistent with our approach, these efforts address short-term needs while supporting longer-term strategies to build power in underserved communities and to seek transformative change. 

$200,000 | New Jersey Ida Just Recovery Fund – To support a new fund formed and led by a coalition of eight frontline organizations working in immigrant, low-income, and communities of color in New Jersey. These lead organizations are collaborating to determine the parameters of assistance, building organizing power, and supporting equitable short-term and medium to long-term recovery efforts. 

$200,000 | ReNew Jersey Fund – Modeled on the successful New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF), two new funds under the banner ReNew Jersey will help residents recover and build resiliency as they face new crises. The funds will support communities recovering from the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Ida and will aid Afghan refugees as they seek safe harbor and rebuild their lives in New Jersey over an extended period of time. 

$200,000 | South Jersey COVID-19 Relief Fund –  To continue to support the long-term, evolving needs of South Jersey residents as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.  

$100,000 |  ALICE Recovery Fund – To support training and services, including a pilot community network of quality center-based and home-based child-care, and advocacy for racial and economic equity for ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families.

$100,000 | New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund – To continue to support artists and arts organizations as they work to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. This work is part of an ongoing effort to restore arts and culture to our state’s communities.

$100,000 | Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief and Recovery Fund – To continue to support COVID recovery needs for those most impacted in the Trenton area.

$100,000 | United Way of Greater Newark Community COVID-19 Fund – To continue to support UWGN’s community partnerships to meet the greatest needs of residents, social service providers, and the public health sector in pandemic recovery.

We feel privileged to be able to provide additional support at this critical time.  At the end of last year, in “Lessons Learned for the Year Ahead,” we shared ways in which we have been aligning our endowment with our mission, vision, and values as we bring all of our resources to bear to make the greatest positive impact.  As part of this commitment, we have just launched a new $5 million Program Investment Pilot, which enables us to invest in important community development initiatives to create social impact beyond grants.  Dodge Foundation Trustees approved the following initial pilot investment projects:

$300,000 Equity Investment |Enrich Scholars, a for-profit start-up that provides job readiness, resume building, interview preparation, and job placement services for college students of color. All services are provided at no cost to the students.

$500,000 Loan |Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for the nascent Affordable Housing Ecosystem Building Fund (AHEB). Under this program, LISC-Greater Newark will deploy capital to housing developers and development projects in New Jersey with a focus on Newark, Jersey City, Irvington, East Orange, and Orange to produce or preserve affordable housing. 

$1,000,000 Loan | New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) for lending and investing through its Community Loan Fund of New Jersey.  NJCC is the largest Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in New Jersey providing financing to sectors including building and preserving affordable housing, charter schools, childcare centers, and small businesses in underserved areas of New Jersey.

We will continue to listen and learn from the voices of our state’s diverse communities as we determine ways for the Foundation to respond to and support emergent needs in our state.  We are grateful for the leadership and collaboration across New Jersey to deploy coordinated resources to community partners. I also want to thank our grantees, Board and Staff for helping to inform our response on the path to greater equity and justice for New Jersey’s communities.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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“It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.”

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Photo by Kristin Reimer

The Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey (home of the Dodge Poetry Festival), is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country. Maria Lopez-Nuñez, a Honduran-American resident there, is waging a war for environmental justice. She is part of the Ironbound Community Corporation, one of the most effective environmental justice organizations in the country. The Sacrifice Zone is a 35-minute documentary that follows Maria as she leads a group of environmental justice fighters determined to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds for our consumer society.

Join Dodge Poetry on Thursday, July 22 at 7 p.m. EST for a free virtual event: a screening of The Sacrifice Zone, followed by poetry and discussion about environmental justice featuring poets Camille T. Dungy and Marina Carreira, environmental activists Maria Lopez-Nuñez and Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, and filmmaker Julie Winokur.

This event is one of a series of programs presented nationally by member organizations of the Poetry Coalition. This year’s theme for Poetry Coalition programming is Poetry and Environmental Justice, represented by the lines: “It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.” (From the poem “Map” by Linda Hogan.)

Register here to join us for The Sacrifice Zone: A Film Screening Followed by Poetry & Conversation about Environmental Justice.

Meet the presenters:

MARINA CARREIRA (she/her/hers) is a queer Luso-American poet artist from Newark, NJ. She is the author of tantotanto (Cavankerry Press, forthcoming 2022), Save the Bathwater (Get Fresh Books, 2018) and I Sing to That Bird Knowing It Won’t Sing Back (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She has exhibited her art at Morris Museum, ArtFront Galleries, West Orange Arts Council, Monmouth University Center for the Arts, among others. Her work investigates identity as it relates to gender, urban, queer, and bicultural first-generation spaces. Keep up with her at

CAMILLE T. DUNGY is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations. Dungy’s poems have been published in Best American PoetryThe 100 Best African American Poems, the Pushcart AnthologyBest American Travel Writing, and over thirty other anthologies. She is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.

MARIA LOPEZ-NUÑEZ works for the Ironbound Community Corporation. She is an environmental justice organizer and plays a large role in activating and uplifting her community while also pushing for policies to address environmental injustice locally, regionally, and nationally. She is on the board of the Climate Justice Alliance and serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

A life-long learner and advocate, DR. JALONNE WHITE-NEWSOME founded Empowering a Green Environment and Economy, LLC, a strategic consulting firm, with the mission of transforming communities through the development of people-centered solutions.  She serves a diverse set of clients with forward-thinking and intersectional approaches to tackle issues such as climate change, public health, environmental injustice, and advancing racial equity.  Jalonne has multi-sector experience having worked in environmental philanthropy, state government, non-profit, grassroots, academia and private industry.  Most notably, she created and implemented the transformational Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) Initiative at the Kresge Foundation as a Senior Program Officer; she was the first Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s federal policy office in Washington, DC;  and, her doctoral research illuminated the impact of climate change & extreme heat on the low-income, elderly in Detroit, and is still referenced to drive public health interventions.  She is a Lecturer at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the proud mom of Arielle and Jeannelyn.

JULIE WINOKUR is the Director of The Sacrifice Zone and Executive Director of Talking Eyes Media, a nonprofit company that produces compelling media that advocates for positive social change. The Sacrifice Zone emerged from a multimedia storytelling project called Newest Americans that for the past six years has been examining immigration and identity in Newark, N.J. Winokur’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Time, National Geographic and The Atlantic.

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Announcing $4.3 million in grants

Posted on by Dodge
Edward Belton III, left, and Ray Johnston perform at University of Orange’s Enciende El Amor Festival in October. The event was a socially distanced, in-person music festival to forge partnerships between local musicians and restauratns to host live music in outdoor public spaces. Photo Courtesy University of Orange / Amonnie Nicolas @artoftyler

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees met virtually this June and approved $4.3 million in grants to nonprofit organizations focused on the Arts, Education, Informed Communities, and Technical Assistance, as well as new Imagine a New Way grants that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequity in New Jersey.  

“All that we have learned since embarking on our racial equity journey and through the pandemic is affirming the Dodge Foundation’s path toward a more just and equitable New Jersey, said Tanuja M. Dehne, Dodge Foundation President & CEO. “We are humbled and inspired by the networks, movements, and organizations which continue to meet community needs and build power so that our systems provide opportunities for people of all races and communities to thrive.”

Aligned with the Foundation’s refined strategic focus, Dodge approved $350,000 in new Imagine a New Way grants to four organizations and projects that are using strategic tools to tackle barriers to a just and equitable New Jersey.  

These include: 

  • $200,000 over two years to the Newark Movement for Economic Equity, the City of Newark’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program. Launched in April 2021, the two-year pilot program provides unconditional cash to select Newark residents as a means to combat poverty and reduce the racial income gap. 
  • $100,000 to The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, to strengthen American education and to rebuild a flourishing civil society. Citizens & Scholars launched the Civic Spring Project to support youth-centered projects in New Jersey by Groundwork Elizabeth and Newark Youth One Stop and Career Center that addressed pandemic-related challenges facing communities, and that promoted local civic engagement during the 2020 general election. 
  • $25,000 to Make the Road New Jersey, a community-based organization which builds the power of immigrant, working-class, and Latinx communities to achieve dignity and respect through community organizing, legal, policy innovation, and transformative education. 
  • $25,000 to Wind of the Spirit, an inter-faith-based organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes immigrant communities and allies. Their work is centered in community needs and drives towards just and humane migration policies, human rights and dignity for all people, along with promoting solidarity and a world of justice and peace.  

For more on Dodge’s Imagine a New Way transformation, read the latest President’s Message.  

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Announcing three new Dodge Trustees

Posted on by Dodge

We are excited to welcome three new members of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees. Barbara Bell Coleman, Rob Connor, and Mark Grier each bring new perspectives and experiences to the Foundation’s vision for a just and equitable New Jersey.  

“As part of the Dodge Foundation’s Imagine a New Way transformation toward racial equity and justice, we are committed to transforming who we are and how we work, as well as our programming,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s President & CEO. “This year has seen the Foundation add experienced, new leadership to the Foundation’s staff and now we are also adding three new trustees, each who are well-known leaders committed to our state and who brings diverse skills and experiences to help fulfill our mission.” 

The new trustees began their four-year terms at the Board’s meeting on June 10.  

Barbara, of Livingston, is President of BBC Associates and an advocate for disenfranchised people, especially children. Barbara’s experience in the social and public health sectors include stints as president of Amelior Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, and she oversaw alcohol and drug abuse prevention services at the New Jersey State Department of Health. She is currently the Board Chair of the Schumann Fund of New Jersey and a co-founder and executive board member of the Branch Brook Park Alliance. She has served on nonprofit and corporate boards, including New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. 

Rob, of Trenton, is the co-founding Head of School at Christina Seix Academy, an innovative pre-K to 8 independent school serving the needs of underserved communities. The Academy’s mission is designed to wrap families in a web of services to ensure that every child succeeds and enjoys stability, voice, and opportunity. Prior to Christina Seix Academy, Rob’s doctoral research focused on topics related to African American student achievement, the retention and recruitment of teachers of color, and urban education. He is currently a visiting professor of education at Wesleyan University and a board member of The Watershed Institute and New Jersey Tennis League of Trenton.  

Mark, of Far Hills, is a veteran of the financial services industry and led Prudential Financial’s public offering in 2001. Mark was Vice Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors of Prudential Financial until his retirement in 2019. Before joining Prudential in 1995 as Chief Financial Officer, he was an executive with The Chase Manhattan Bank and Lincoln First Bank. He is Board Chairman of the Global Impact Investing Network and a member of the Board of Directors at Freddie Mac, where he served until recently as Interim CEO.  

The three new members join Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Dan Fatton, and Eleanor Horne as Dodge trustees in their first terms.  

“We are thrilled with the addition of the new board members,” said Preston Pinkett III, Board Chair. “Dodge’s Board of Trustees is committed to our vision of a just and equitable New Jersey by supporting efforts that address root causes of structural racism and inequity.”  

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President’s Message: Our path toward a just and equitable New Jersey

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
Equitable Futures for New Jersey. Illustration by Layqa Nuna Yawar

Since 1974, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has fostered opportunity, creative voice, and a healthy environment to help New Jerseyans live quality lives. We are exceedingly proud of that work which has helped to build more vibrant communities across our richly diverse state.

Despite these investments, systemic racial bias has affected many communities’ ability to thrive. As the third wealthiest state in the country, New Jersey is alive with opportunity. Yet, we also know that access to these opportunities and benefits is not equitable.

New Jersey has the largest racial wealth gap in the United States, impacting the ability of communities of color in New Jersey to own homes or access quality education and health care. Racial biases lead to Black and Latinx people experiencing unfair treatment and violence in our justice and policing systems with disproportionate frequency. Lower levels of access to positions of leadership within our state and local government result in less political power to ensure that issues affecting communities of color get adequate resources or attention. These long-standing inequities have only served to exacerbate wealth and opportunity gaps in New Jersey.

Research and experience make clear that New Jersey cannot achieve its full potential without directly addressing systemic racism and actively supporting efforts to create more just and equitable policies, systems, and practices in our state.  

With that goal in mind, the Dodge Foundation set a course five years ago to create a more equitable New Jersey. Our resolve was only strengthened by the devastating pandemic and our national reckoning on racism this past year. We are now applying our learning and experience to transform our grantmaking, partnerships, internal operations, and how we deploy our resources. We refer to our transformation as Imagine A New Way because we are:

  1. Imagining New Ways to center our work with intentionality and action toward racial equity and justice, and
  2. Imagining New Ways to operate as a philanthropic institution that is more just, regenerative, and that shifts more power and economic control to communities.

We seek a just and equitable New Jersey where people of all races and communities have equal access to opportunities and are able to thrive and achieve their full potential. As we look forward, we will direct our time, energy, and resources toward efforts that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequity in New Jersey. In our grantmaking, we will prioritize networks, movements, organizations, and leaders closest to the harms of inequities and who have been historically excluded from investment and opportunity. We believe this approach will bring critical perspectives, strategies, and solutions that are informed by the lived experiences of communities of color, positioning them to influence decisions about the places where they live and work.

In 2021, we are supporting organizations or projects that use strategic tools to tackle barriers to a just and equitable New Jersey. These organizations are driven by local community needs while collaborating within a larger ecosystem in which each organization plays a key role in developing solutions for New Jersey’s most intractable problems. We are eager to help amplify their collective efforts.

Recent examples of our new grantmaking priorities in action include operating support to New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and Salvation and Social Justice. Building on earlier investments to support an accurate census count, Dodge also invested in the Fair Redistricting in New Jersey Fund, led by the Fund for New Jersey, to support public engagement, transparency, and community representation in the state’s redistricting processes.

Through advocacy, policy change, movement building, and cultural organizing, these organizations are making measurable progress to increase the power and voice of New Jersey’s communities of color. Going forward, we will continue to seek strategic partners whose work focuses on advocacy, policy change, building economic, political, and cultural power, and repairing unjust systems.  

We will also continue to develop our organization and learn from those who have the greatest proximity to issues and solutions. As we do, it is our goal to share new grant guidelines that are more open, along with simplified application and reporting processes that will help us to explore new partnerships in 2022 and beyond.

It is our privilege to steward the resources and relationships of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and we seek to do so with great humility, transparency, and mutual learning. As we evolve, we will continue to build upon our commitment to equity to help New Jerseyans, regardless of race, class, or neighborhood to thrive.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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Dodge’s Imagine A New Way transformation launches with new grants

Posted on by Dodge

Trustees approve $2.8M toward an equitable and just New Jersey

The Center for Environmental Transformation’s youth program participants and the market manager sell produce in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden.
Photo courtesy The Center for Environmental Transformation

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees met virtually this March and approved more than $2.8 million in grants toward an equitable and just New Jersey. The grants include more than $350,000 in new Imagine a New Way grants, representing Dodge’s latest step towards our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization and centering racial equity and justice in our work. 

“Weeks after the Atlanta attack marked a turning point in the rise of anti-Asian hate and violence, the latest in our country’s history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gendered violence, it is more clear than ever that we cannot return to the way things were,” said Tanuja M. Dehne, Dodge Foundation President & CEO. “Dodge’s Imagine a New Way transformation has begun to change what we do and how we do it to achieve our vision of an equitable and just New Jersey so that New Jerseyans of all races and communities have what is needed to realize a quality life.”

With a focus on racial equity and justice and putting trust-based philanthropy values into action, Dodge made $350,000 in Imagine a New Way grants to five organizations and projects that are using strategic tools to tackle barriers and finding solutions to New Jersey’s most intractable problems. These include:

  • $100,000 to the Fair Redistricting in New Jersey Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation to support public engagement, transparency, and community representation in the state’s redistricting processes.
  • $25,000 to New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, a statewide membership-based coalition which uses the power and strength of its member organizations to ensure that New Jersey’s immigrant communities are leaders in the development of policies that impact their lives and the lives of all New Jersey residents.
  • $100,000 to New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, a leader in the advocacy field in New Jersey. The Institute’s cutting-edge work is focused on providing policy solutions that empower people of color by building systems that create wealth, transform justice, and harness democratic power from the ground up in New Jersey.
  • $100,000 to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan think-tank whose research drives policy change that advances economic, social, and racial justice throughout New Jersey.
  • $25,000 to Salvation and Social Justice, a grassroots community organizing network for social and racial justice in New Jersey that engages the Black Faith-rooted community across the state.

“These organizations are all driven by local community needs and have created deep relationships with one another,” said Marianna Schaffer, Dodge’s Vice President of Programs. “We are eager to support and amplify the collective effort of these organizations.”

After awarding more than $2.6 million in pandemic response grants in 2020, Dodge Trustees approved in March a $200,000 grant to the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund, which provides critical financial support for arts and culture organizations and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The Fund, housed at the Princeton Area Community Foundation, has awarded $2.6 million in grants, about half of the $4.2 million raised to date. 

Dodge also made two new grants to the Community Foundation of New Jersey for park improvement projects in New Jersey. A $50,000 project support grant to the Boonton Reservoir Enhancement and Access Project enables Open Space Institute to conduct engineering, geotechnical, archaeological, and environmental assessments, and continued stakeholder engagement in adjacent neighborhoods and Jersey City. A $50,000 project support grant to the Branch Brook Park Alliance Fund enables the installation of a wi-fi network and provides ongoing support for the park’s annual upkeep.

In addition, Dodge awarded more than $2.2 million in grants, including 29 totaling $932,750 in Arts, 20 totaling $1,205,000 in Environment, and grants totaling $90,000 in Technical Assistance and other areas. 

Posted in COVID19, equity, News & Announcements, Philanthropy | 1 Comment

Submissions Open for DPF2022

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Poets (left to right) Joy Ladin, Paul Tran and Natalie Scenters-Zapico at the 2018 Dodge Poetry Festival. Photo by Alex Towle.

It feels like just yesterday that we wrapped up the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival (which ran from October 22 – November 1 this past fall), but it’s been a few months now, and it’s time to start thinking about 2022!

We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting submissions for the next Dodge Poetry Festival, which will take place in the fall of 2022.

If you’re interested in submitting to read at the Festival, check out our Submission Guidelines and Submission FAQ pages for detailed instructions and information and to find a link to the submission form. Here are some additional helpful tips:

  1. Audio and/or video clips are really important
    One component of a complete submission is 1-3 audio or video recordings of you reading your poems aloud. Don’t worry–we’re not demanding professional-quality recordings. Since we are curating a live event, it is important for the review panel to have a chance to see and hear you reading your work.

    As you know, experiencing poetry out loud is very different from reading it on the page. A poem can take on a whole new layer of meaning and energy from the poet delivering it. There’s nothing like seeing and hearing how a poet connects and engages with their audience in-person. If you have a video or audio of you reading in front of a live audience, that would be ideal.

    We don’t expect every poet to be a performance poet. Over the years, Festival Poets have had many different reading styles. One thing they have in common is being attentive, engaging and connecting to audience and other poets.
  2. Show us a work sample that best represents you
    We ask for a sample of up to 20 pages of your poetry that best represents you and your work as you would like to share it at the Festival. If you have work published, such as books or a chapbook, why do we ask for this sample?

    You may have published work that you’re proud of and want us to see, but have other poems you’ve learned are more effective with a live audience. The reading sample is an opportunity to not only share some of the work you’re most excited about and proud of, but also the poems you would like to read aloud to an audience that will likely include many who have never heard you read before. (We understand that what you are excited to read may change by 2022, so you’re not beholden to these poems.)

    This sample also provides an opportunity for poets who do not have a published book or chapbook to show their work and put their best foot forward, alongside the audio or video materials.
  3. Take your time with the short responses
    Instead of asking for a formal cover letter and resume, we decided to simplify things a bit and ask you a few specific questions to help us get to know you.

    It’s a good idea to take some time and be thoughtful with your responses to these questions to help paint a picture of who you are, what’s important to you, what you want to bring to the Festival, the types of conversations you would want to have there, and how you would connect with other poets, students, teachers and poetry-lovers.

    Reading poems aloud is just one aspect of the Festival–participating in rich conversations across many different boundaries of identity, and connecting with others through poetry and conversation, are at the heart of the Dodge Poetry Festival. Your responses to these questions help to show how you would want to show up, connect and engage at the Festival, as well as what would make you feel most connected and included there.

These are just a few things to consider when putting together your submission materials. Please review the Submission Guidelines and FAQs before submitting to make sure you have all of the necessary materials–and be sure to submit by the deadline of October 15, 2021.

Thank you so much for your support and interest in the Dodge Poetry Festival! Feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested in submitting to read at the next Festival.

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Poetry for Valentine’s Day

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Photo from 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival session, Hold My Hand: On Intimacy and Poetry with Natalie Diaz, Ada Limón. Moderated by Ysabel Y. González

Valentine’s Day is a special time for poetry–a day when many people turn to poets for help expressing their love to someone special.

Of course, romantic love doesn’t have a monopoly on great poetry. Poets can help us find words to express our affection and appreciation for friends, family, animals, the natural world and ourselves.

If you want inspiration for your greeting cards, or are simply looking to infuse your day with a little more love, here are a few 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival sessions you might want to check out this weekend. Simply visit, click “View Passes” and pay what you can to access all of the Festival videos.

HOLD MY HAND: ON INTIMACY AND POETRY with Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón, moderated by Ysabel Y. González (Aired on Saturday, October 24)

Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón discuss their collaborative project, Envelopes of Air. They talk about their friendship and the ways in which intimacy, landscape, and bodyscape show up in their poems. And they explore the role poets play in cultivating intimacy and breaking down walls—with other writers, with readers, and within their own communities. Moderated by Ysabel Y. González

THE BELOVED, a poetry and song collaboration with poet Gregory Orr and alt-folk group Parkington Sisters (Aired on Saturday, October 31)

…because of the beloved, I come into being
under her touch, all of me shudders

from The Beloved by Gregory Orr

We can’t go to concerts in person, but we can curl up at home for an intimate and moving performance by Gregory Orr and the Parkington Sisters.

Gregory Orr and the Parkington Sisters perform “The Beloved” poetry and song cycle at the 2018 Dodge Poetry Festival

FESTIVAL POET READING featuring Zeina Hashem Beck, Kai Coggin, Jessica Jacobs, John Murillo, Ladan Osman, Emily Skaja (Aired on Saturday, October 31)

In this series of readings by several poets at the 2020 Festival, you’ll hear poems that speak to different types of love:

Zeina Hashem Beck‘s poems touch upon love of place and language, as well as love for her husband. In “Fools Rush In,” she shares snapshots of young love from their school days:

“Oh days of mixed tapes,
Oh copy books of scribbled songs
Oh years of love notes smuggled under classroom tables”

from “Fools rush in” by zeina hashem beck

Kai Coggin‘s “Constant Before Picture” speaks to learning self-love, and Jessica Jacobs‘ poetry from Take Me With You Wherever You’re Going, explores the complexities of love and long-term commitment, including an ode to her wife’s hair.

Check out these sessions and many more at

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Honoring Black History Month with Poetry

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Black poets have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of American poetry. In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing a list of just some of the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival videos to revisit or watch for the first time this February, including sessions curated by Cave Canem and the Academy of American Poets.  

Visit to register and gain access to all of the Festival session videos by paying what you can. Educators and students register for free.  

Once registered, you can find all the Festival readings and conversations organized by the day they aired.  (We’re working on an even more user-friendly website with more search features. Stay tuned!) 

A screenshot from the DPF2020 session “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” presented by Cave Canem and featuring poets Yona Harvey, Cherene Sherrard and Kush Thompson.

2020 Dodge Poetry Festival Sessions to watch during Black History Month (and every other month of the year)

THE SKIN YOU’RE LIVING IN: Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson. Moderated by khalil murrell (Aired on Sunday, October 25)  

In “Blink Your Eyes,” Sekou Sundiata’s poem about a traffic stop, he writes that what might happen in the blink of an eye, “all depends on the skin you’re living in.” Poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess and Cyrée Jarelle Johnson explore questions about the evolution of their aesthetics, how they tie into issues of identity, and how they do or don’t feel compelled to write as “black male poets” in this time. Moderated by khalil murrell. 

BLACK FUTURES, BLACK PASTS presented by Cave Canem: Yona Harvey, Cherene Sherrard. Moderated by Kush Thompson (Aired on October 25)  

Yona Harvey’s You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love investigates Black futures and possibilities via the supernatural and Afro-futurism, while Cherene Sherrard uses one of the earliest cookbooks published by an African American woman to memorialize the past in her newest poetry collection, Grimoire. Presented by Cave Canem, in “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” Harvey and Sherrard read from their recent books and talk with Cave Canem fellow Kush Thompson about centering Black womanhood in their work. Introduction by Malcolm Tariq, Programs and Communications Manager, Cave Canem. 

POETS FORUM: POETRY AND POEMS IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES: Kwame Dawes, Terrance Hayes (Aired on Friday, October 30)  

Academy Chancellors Kwame Dawes and Terrance Hayes continue their long-standing commitment to celebrating the value and persistent relevance of art, and especially poetry in our world today. For both poets, the poet’s obligation to record, to leave a record of experiences (ordinary, human and sincere) and of their bodies’ existence in the historical moment is as radical and revolutionary and urgent as any protest poem might be. 

AMERICAN POETRIESCornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch, Paisley Rekdal. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell (Aired on Saturday, October 24)  

Adrienne Rich wrote that there is no such thing as an “American Poetry.” Instead, there are American Poetries—so many divergent schools that no single style or aesthetic can be singled out as the definitively “American” one. Cornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch and Paisley Rekdal consider what we gain from this diversity and by listening more closely to each other. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell. 

I AM NOT FREE WHILE ANY WOMAN IS UNFREE: Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja, Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra (Aired on Sunday, October 25) 

Poet Audre Lorde once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Almost forty years later, her words are still poignant and relevant. What does it look like when women writers are in community with each other, writing for and with each other? How does this continue to transform the poems that they and others write, the canon, the poetry community and other communities? Participating poets include Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja and Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra. 

ON CRAFT: Vievee Francis (Aired on Thursday, October 29) 

Vievee Francis considers and discusses questions related to the craft of making poems. What is the larger purpose of craft? What are the rewards of trying to master it? How do work schedules, patterns of revision, the uses of traditional forms, the subtleties of line breaks or the place of sound and phrasing in composition come into play when considering craft?

Tyehimba Jess sharing poems in his reading aired on Thursday, October 29, 2020


Main Stage reading with Reginald Dwayne Betts and Nikky Finney (Aired on Saturday, October 31) 

Main Stage Reading with Cornelius Eady (Aired on Friday, October 30) 

Main Stage Reading with Tyehimba Jess (Aired on Thursday, October 29) 

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Introducing Dodge’s two new senior leaders

Posted on by Dodge

We are excited to welcome Marianna Schaffer as Vice President of Programs and Jennene Tierney as Vice President of People, Culture, Equity — two new senior leaders who will help guide the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in embedding racial justice and anti-racism within the organization and achieving its vision of an equitable New Jersey.

“Dodge’s transformation to become an anti-racist organization and design a new model of philanthropy is a testament to the resiliency, self-awareness, and dedication of its staff and board and network of partners,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s President and CEO. “We are thrilled to have Marianna and Jennene join the Dodge team and help us explore ways to build the new, live the new, and change the rules as we work to better equip ourselves, the nonprofit sector, and our communities for activating people for social change and racial justice.”

As Dodge’s Vice President of Programs, Marianna (she/her/hers), a philanthropic leader with nearly 20 years’ experience, will lead our grantmaking activities as we transform our program priorities to focus on equity, anti-racism, and justice. She will work to create new ways to power build and share decision-making, as well as develop and implement new program areas and initiatives to expand the Foundation’s reach and impact.

Jennene Tierney (she/her/hers) joins us as our new Vice President of People, Culture, and Equity to oversee the Foundation’s human resources, culture building and internal and external communications strategies. In this role she will guide the implementation of an overarching diversity, equity, and inclusion vision, ensure continuous learning and values alignment within the Foundation’s culture and practices, and work in deep collaboration with staff and leadership as the organization continues to evolve and adapt its capacity to center equity and justice in all that we do.

Diversified Search Group assisted with the search for the two positions, both of which are newly created roles.

Read our full announcement here.

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President’s Message: Lessons learned for the year ahead

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne

At the Dodge Foundation, we challenged ourselves this year as we focused on the opportunity to lead and live into equity. 2020 invited us to explore the intersection of risk and opportunity and to take responsibility for our collective safety as the global pandemic, racial uprisings, and threats to the foundation of our democracy brought into focus who we are and what we stand for. We leaned into what the year brought with trust, transparency, and compassion for each other and our community.

Democracy is Solidarity. Image Courtesy Amplifier / Tracie Ching

As people navigating the pandemic ourselves united by our collective vision of an equitable New Jersey, we have become more grateful than ever before, counting our blessings, cherishing our loved ones, consuming less, and adapting to our new realities. We are more resilient, flexible, and agile than we ever thought we could be. Amid the chaos, this collective pause allowed us to appreciate those moments of Zen and “check in” as we rediscovered our shared humanity.

The dual crises of racial injustice and the global pandemic accelerated the Foundation’s imperative to Imagine A New Way and commitment to transform our work and the construct of philanthropy itself. We deepened and built new relationships, experimented with different ways of working, and embraced the boldness of what it means to us to explore this new mindset’s two interdependent components:

  1. Imagine a New Way is Dodge’s transformation to become an anti-racist organization as we center our work with intentionality and action on racial equity and justice.
  2. Imagine a New Way is also Dodge’s transformation, role, and leadership in designing a new model of “philanthropy” by democratizing power, redistributing wealth, and shifting economic control to communities that is just and regenerative for people and the planet. 

Imagine a New Way is the lens with which we have operated internally, externally, programmatically, and financially this year. Drawing from the Just Transition framework, over the next year at Dodge we will begin to build the new, live the new, and change the rules. Below are just a few highlights from this past year that are informing the activation of the next phase of our transformation. 

New work, new grants, new processes, new thinking

In response to the pandemic and building upon the experiences from other disasters, Dodge awarded more than $2.55 million in COVID-19 urgent community needs and election integrity grants.  We converted almost all grant making to general operating support, created more inclusive decision-making processes to evaluate and decide on new grants, and leveraged technology to deploy funds quickly and efficiently. We set aside existing grant guidelines and application processes and lived into Trust-Based Philanthropy protocols and the Council of Foundations Pledge. Our poetry team rose to the challenge of the pandemic and created the first-ever virtual Dodge Poetry Festival reaching more than 14,000 people across the globe over 11 days while providing 80,000 in COVID-19 relief to 8 poetry organizations. Finally, cross-state and cross-sector collaborations for pandemic relief led to the formation of a new New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund to support artists and arts organizations now and in the future.

In 2021, we will leverage the lessons learned from living into and creating virtual collaborative spaces and strengthen our new relationships. We will also examine how our current program areas intersect and are elevated through the pursuit of democracy and justice, regenerative systems, thriving and resilient communities and life-long learning.

Culture building in a remote work environment

Like many organizations, Dodge swiftly switched to remote work in March and will continue to work remotely through at least June 2021. We explored new ways to build culture online by incorporating wellness in our meetings with moments of gratitude, meditation, breathing and movement, and found ways to acknowledge grief and loss and celebrate life’s happy moments. We also created space for self-identified BIPOC and White caucus learning groups where we shared readings, learnings, wellness tips, or just connected.

In 2021, we will continue to explore and implement ways to evolve Dodge’s internal culture so it is more inclusive and reflective of our commitment to anti-racism. 

Financial stewardship

Dodge’s strategic plan outlines our financial goals as being “responsible stewards of our financial assets, growing them to ensure future impact, and aligning our investments and expenditures with our vision, mission, and values over the long term.” The strength of our endowment provides the financial resources and stability to achieve our programmatic goals. In 2020, Dodge distributed funding above its original budget and awarded more than $2.55 million in crisis response grants.  

Our ability to act swiftly is largely attributed to the financial performance of our endowment and prudent budget decisions over recent years to reverse an earlier trend when Foundation expenses outpaced investment returns. While disbursing more than $76 million to the community over the last five years, the endowment currently ranks in the top 1 percent for endowments and foundations over the same period, and has grown over $90 million.

Dodge has also made significant strides in ensuring that our current investments are aligned with our mission, vision, and values.  We have made investments which specifically seek to make a positive social impact and financial returns, such as our recent investments in Newark Venture Partners and the Jonathan Rose Affordable Housing Fund. In 2020, we also dramatically reduced investments in fossil fuels to under 1 percent and affirmed that we are making no investments in private prisons, firearms, and munitions.

In 2021, we will continue to explore ways to align our endowment with our vision as we bring all of our resources to bear to make the greatest positive impact in New Jersey. Our strong financial position frees us be bold as we Imagine a New Way regarding wealth redistribution and shifting economic control to communities that is just and regenerative for people and planet. 

Sharing, multiplying, and amplifying

In 2020, Dodge shared its program Theories of Change and Equity Framework through several online convenings and listening sessions with our diverse stakeholder groups and partnered with colleagues in the field to advance racial equity. We also launched a Dodge Anti-racism training series for 130 nonprofit and funding partners with more than 400 people working from where they are to turn learning into action. 

In 2021, we will explore how we can more intentionally bring people together to learn from and connect with each other, so the nonprofit sector and our communities are better equipped for activating people for social change and racial justice. 

We are grateful to our partners, our community, and networks and friends as we use our collective influence and power to amplify, multiply, and activate the voices of many. Stay tuned as we share more about our transformation and our journey.  

Wishing you health, happiness, joy, and love in 2021.

Tanuja Dehne is president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Posted in Dodge Insights, equity, Philanthropy, President's Message | Leave a comment

A question for our disrupted times: Will well-meaning white people be able to change?

Posted on by David Grant
Photo courtesy of Martin LaBar via Creative Commons

Last year’s Dodge Board Leadership Series wrapped in the spring with a workshop titled “Turning Learning into Action,” with an emphasis on addressing systemic racism in all aspects of our society. Even at that time, we were wondering, “What sort of world will we be acting in?”

Since then, the question has only become more pertinent and the need for change more stark. George Floyd was killed nine days after our workshop, followed by months of demonstrations across the country. The pandemic has grinded on, with data of its impact making the inequities in our society strikingly clear. We have learned just this week that life expectancy for Black Americans has dropped at three times the rate for whites. As we watched power and water restored in Texas after the devastating storms, we saw it come last to communities of color.

Most dramatically, on Jan. 6, we watched an assault on our Capitol building led by fellow U.S. citizens, many if not most identifying as white supremacists.

So again: What will our society be like on the other side of the pandemic?  Many white people like myself who do not identify as white supremacists have intellectually understood that our “new normal” should begin with a dramatic difference in our racial worldviews – specifically that we should acknowledge a history of white supremacy in the United States, and that we should address and change systemic racism in all aspects of our society.

It feels as if there is momentum for real change. Books like Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, have been bestsellers for months, and a new vocabulary is bringing clarity to issues long ignored. Every nonprofit I work with has organized, or is participating in, anti-racism training. We have a new president and a female, Black, South-Asian vice-president who have made racial fairness a central value of their administration. The political divisions in our country notwithstanding, we seem poised for change as a society. 

But change is more emotional than intellectual. I wonder how well we understand what it will mean emotionally for white people to give up power and privilege. What will it take for those of us in the position to USE our power and privilege to advance racial justice to actually do so?

In the spirit of DiAngelo’s exhortation for white people to talk to each other about questions like this, I’d like to offer a reality check and a heads-up for people who look like me.  I’d like to explore what gets in the way of change

I used to present a framework for the emotional dimensions of change in the Dodge Board Leadership workshops. It was drawn from the work of psychologist Robert Evans, who wrote about the challenges of change in schools. He says people experience change, no matter how sensible it is, in four ways: as loss, as a feeling of incompetence, as confusion, and as conflict. His framework helps explain why people resist change.

In my years of working with non-profit leaders, I always presented these four dimensions of change in a very general way, observing that when we are in the midst of change:

  • We feel a sense of loss, because the patterns of our lives become our identities, and when those patterns change, we actually mourn what has been lost.
  • We feel incompetent, because whatever the new way of doing things will be, we don’t know how to do it yet; we feel competent in the ways we are doing things now.
  • We experience confusion, because our organizational practices are all part of a complex whole. When we change something deliberately on Tuesday, something we hadn’t anticipated changes on Thursday; to combat uncertainty and confusion, we say, “couldn’t we just do things the way we’ve always done?”
  • We experience conflict, because workplaces are like families. Change can serve as an excuse to bring out long-held grievances; it seems as if we are arguing about some aspect of change, but what is really going on is that years ago one person got the parking place, or the office, or the assignment, that another one wanted.

All these emotional dimensions of change reinforce the status quo. When I read Evans’ work, I don’t see resistance to change as stubborn or uninformed or reactionary – I see it as healthy human behavior. It makes sense to avoid loss, incompetence, confusion, and conflict. This is why change is so hard.

But so what? We find ourselves beginning a new year at the confluence of an ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty, deep political division, and an evolving understanding of the many ways our old “normal” wasn’t working for people of color. We need change. 

The Evans framework reminds us why it won’t be easy. Let’s look at the psychological dimensions of change through the lens of what will be required of us to create the fairer society we envision:

  • The sense of loss for white people will be profound: We will have to give up a core part of our identities – the notion that we have nothing to do with racism; if we are serious, we will have to give up – actually help dismantle – a system that advantages us.
  • And when it comes to feeling incompetent, just watch. We have had the luxury of not having to think about race every day as we get in our cars or go to our stores. Most of us have little experience talking about race in mixed-race groups; as DiAngelo writes, we have not had to “build our racial stamina.” She further writes, in the only line of the book that made me laugh out loud, “…when white people discuss issues that make them uncomfortable, they become almost incomprehensible.” 
  • Confusion reigns when we don’t know what to do, and changing systems is a complex task. Systems are multi-layered, and it’s never fully clear what is causing what. And at the core of anti-racism work is recognizing our own unconscious biases; by definition they are invisible to us.
  • And if healthy people avoid conflict, it will take an act of will, again and again, to wade into waters full of real and potential conflict: Interactions with people of color who are out of patience, interactions with white people who will claim that it is they who are being disadvantaged by our efforts, policy discussions in a civic sphere characterized by deep political divisions and lack of basic trust.

My takeaway is to be warned – and on guard. If we want to be agents of change, we have to be aware of the forces that can take us out of the game.  When these four emotional dimensions of change come along, as they surely will, it will be helpful to expect them, to name them, and move on. We have to remember that our goal is transformation within as well as in the world around us.

David Grant is the author of The Social Profit Handbook: The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes, and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations. He is the former Dodge Foundation president, a facilitator in the Foundation’s Board Leadership technical assistance workshop series, and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. 

Posted in Board Leadership, equity, Technical Assistance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to join us for #DPF2020 and reduce plastic while home

Posted on by Dodge

We are very excited to share information about the virtual Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, taking place Oct. 22 through Nov. 1! 

Our first-ever virtual Festival is free and features over 100 beloved and exciting emerging poets.

You can view a schedule of Festival events here, beginning with the 7 p.m. Opening Celebration tomorrow. These events include poetry readings and conversations on topics such as “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” “Poetry and Climate Justice,” “How to Read a Poem,” and “Poets for Teachers.”

All Festival attendees can access videos on-demand after they air or join us live for Q&A sessions with poets and events in our virtual Community Room, including Community Conversations, Drinks & Discussion, Open Mic, Gentle yoga sessions

Special programming designed for high school students will take place 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST on Oct. 26-30. High school teachers and students interested in attending those sessions will receive more details when they sign up for an Education Pass and mark that they are interested in High School Student Programming in the registration form. 

Here’s how to get your Pass:

1. Visit 

2. Click “View Passes” in the top right corner and choose the Pass that’s right for you

3. Submit the registration form

How to reduce plastic waste and COVID-19 from home

Small changes add up to make a big impact when it comes to environmental justice — even during a pandemic. 

Since 2010, Dodge has sought to live our value of sustainability, model leadership in how we run events, and be good neighbors through the Dodge Poetry Festival zero-waste initiative.

This year, we are once again proud to be partnering with Clean Water Action, through its Rethink Disposables program, to make it easy for Festival-goers to use less plastic and produce less trash during their at-home experience while reducing their exposure to COVID-19. 

You can watch The Environment Has No Walls, a behind-the-scenes video about the initiative from #DPF2018, here.

We invite you to put the tips above into action and learn more here

Posted in Events & Workshops, News & Announcements, Poetry | Leave a comment

Introducing our new Equity Framework

Posted on by Dodge

Here at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, we envision an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, and sustainable communities. Following the development of our strategic vision, we created new equity theories of change for our program areas. 

Informed by research, evidence, and best practices in the field, we also developed our new Equity Framework to deepen conversations and track progress within our grantee organizations. 

We are excited to host a 75-minute webinar where we offer grantee leaders, staff, and board members a first look at the Equity Framework, share how it advances our commitment to racial equity and anti-racism, and answer questions. 

Will you join us?

We invite you and your staff and board to register through the links below:

Noon to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7 

After your registration is approved, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom containing information about joining the meeting and a preview of the Equity Framework. 

Click here to forward this invitation to board and staff Click here to forward this invitation to board and staff

About the webinars

These webinars are designed for leaders, staff, and board members of grantee organizations. Please help us reach your colleagues by forwarding this invitation to colleagues at your organization.

Individuals need not register for both. In an effort to include as many people from our partner organizations as possible, we are offering two options to attend. Each webinar is open to the first 300 people that register on a first-come, first served basis. A recording of the session will be available on our website. 

We look forward to working with you for our shared vision of racial equity and anti-racism in New Jersey. Together we can learn, grow, and improve our practices for a more equitable state.


You may send registration questions or questions for the Q&A session prior to the webinar to: or 

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Join our Culturally Responsive Arts Education & Anti-Racism 25-Day Challenge

Posted on by Dodge

It’s not too late to join the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s new Culturally Responsive Arts Education and Anti-Racism 25-Day Challenge, which launches today.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has built a learning community to gain a shared understanding of what Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) and Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) look like in action. This work requires a mindset shift that can’t occur without first understanding the structural and historical inequities in our education system and how our own individual identity shows up in our work and lives. 

The Dodge Foundation’s Culturally Responsive Arts Education and Anti-Racism 25-day Challenge was designed to help us all “know better” so we can “do better.”

Through daily activities and an online learning community, the Challenge is designed to help you create dedicated time and space to build your social justice habits and look at issues of race, culture, identity, gender, power, and privilege, and their effects on schools, classrooms, and youth.

We hope you will share this challenge with your staff, board, and constituents as a shared inspirational activity as we head into the new school year.

How it works

After you sign up for the Challenge, you will receive a welcome email and then daily emails for each day after. If you sign up after the Challenge launch on Sept. 14, you can follow along at your own pace through the link to the whole challenge in the welcome email.

The daily Challenges include videos, articles, and reflections on topics including unconscious bias, structural racism, culturally relevant education, and the power of arts and identity.

You will also receive a link to a handy Reflections Log and an invitation to a NJ CRAE Facebook group to connect and learn from your Challenge companions.

Why we’re doing this

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has recently deepened its commitment to holding ourselves accountable to anti-racist values and actions. 

Our new Education goals are aimed at addressing how educators can advance equity in their schools, and specifically how arts-based, culturally responsive and relevant education can improve school culture and student learning. 

Use this link to sign up for the Challenge to join us today!


Contact Wendy Liscow, Dodge Education program director, or Richard Simon, Arts and Education senior program associate.

Posted in Anti-racism, Arts Education, equity, News & Announcements | Leave a comment
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