President’s Message: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces the Inaugural Cohort of its New Momentum Fund

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Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces the Inaugural Cohort of its New Momentum Fund:

$1.5. million in multi-year funding for 10 emerging organizations employing innovative strategies to address root causes of structural racism in New Jersey, nominated and selected in a new community-engaged process.

Over the last two years, the dual crises of racial injustice and the ongoing global pandemic have accelerated the Dodge Foundation’s imperative to Imagine a New Way by transforming our philanthropic approach and our work. In 2021, we sharpened our focus on a just and equitable New Jersey by prioritizing efforts that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequities in our state.

Living into our commitment to learn and to practice new ways of working and connecting in new spaces, the Dodge Foundation launched the Momentum Fund in Fall 2021.  The Momentum Fund engages with organizations that are working in service to under-invested communities in New Jersey that are most directly impacted by structural barriers to equity—namely communities of color.   Social justice practitioners, stakeholders, and leaders in New Jersey nominated and selected the cohort.

The Momentum Fund provides new opportunities for funding to organizations – many of which have not had access to institutional philanthropic support until now.  Each of the ten organizations will receive unrestricted funding of $150,000 over three years along with other capacity-building support.  We believe that this runway of flexible funding will offer these organizations the time, space, and ability to explore new approaches and more freedom to self-determine the best course forward in their work. Participation in the Momentum Fund is also a chance for groups to learn from each other, strengthen their capacities, reimagine systems, and build dynamic networks.

Introducing the Inaugural Momentum Fund Cohort

Today, we are pleased to introduce you to the inaugural Momentum Fund cohort.

From fighting for food justice, workplace safety and immigrant rights to offering programming in the arts, health and wellness and environmental justice, Momentum Fund cohort members are leading some of the most vital, strategic, and creative efforts to address the longstanding impact of structural racism and inequities throughout New Jersey. They include:

CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee – focused on organizing and empowering the immigrant community as they fight for justice for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The H.U.B.B. Arts & Trauma Center – increasing opportunities for success by providing healing programs, services, and events for underserved youth and their families that entertain, educate, and empower.

IDEA Center for the Arts – building more socially resourceful and vibrant communities by strengthening the human potential through creativity, culture, and arts-based learning.

New Labor – amplifying workers voices and fighting for social justice in New Jersey.

Newark Community Street Team – resolving relationship-based disputes toward a peaceful outcome by coordinating with city agencies, service providers, and policy organizations to improve the quality of life of Newark citizens.

New Jersey Resource Project  – educating and connecting community leaders to work together for solutions and take action toward an economically just and resilient future, founded by Superstorm Sandy survivors.

Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. – implementing initiatives to increase awareness of environmental, ecological, and wellness issues through educational programs and hands-on activities, such as community gardens and urban farms.

Palestinian American Community Center – sustaining and strengthening ties to Palestinian heritage while empowering success and well-being of the entire community.

South Ward Environmental Alliance – cultivating healthy and vibrant neighborhoods by ensuring residents’ voices are heard, and they are active participants in decision making policies that impact their neighborhood.

VietLead – developing leadership in the Vietnamese community in solidarity with other communities of color towards improving health, increasing self-determination, and strengthening political power of our community.

Community Panel

We are grateful to our panel of community leaders who dedicated their time and expertise to select the inaugural Momentum Fund cohort. They include:

Reverend Dr. Charles F. Boyer

Founding Director, Salvation and Social Justice

Chenjerai Kumanyika

Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University

Maria Lopez-Nunez

Director of Environmental Justice and Community Development, Ironbound Community Corporation

Hawwa Muhammad

Founder & CEO, Pink Trumpet

Kareem Willis

Social Justice Scholar-Practitioner

Living a New Way

The Momentum Fund is one example of our desire to do things differently and is a pivotal opportunity for the Dodge Foundation to explore new ways of:

  • adapting our grantmaking practices to better leverage community leadership and input in funding decisions; and
  • resourcing the power, leadership, and solutions of those most impacted by racial injustice and inequity.

We are proud to be one of the growing number of philanthropies investing in communities that have long been denied access to philanthropic decision-making and dollars. As we step into these new ways of working, we hope others will join us in this work.

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

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