Humility and transparency - two of the guiding values of the Grunin Foundation. For us, humility means staying humble and always putting our mission before our brand and personal interests. Transparency means conducting our activities openly and communicating clearly and honestly to our partners, grantees and community. While we never want the focus to be on us, we want to share our journey and the actions we are taking as a Foundation.
When 2020 started, we celebrated our brand relaunch, unveiling our new identity and a renewed commitment to driving economic excellence in the region and beyond. Little did we know, that would be one of the last times we were able to come together in person for the foreseeable future. When the global pandemic hit, we quickly shifted our focus, communications and funding.
With each day bringing a new challenge that could not be predicted, we started with what we knew would have the most immediate impact:
- Shifting Foundation-hosted events to a virtual platform to keep everyone safely connected.
- Keeping sponsorships and donations in place to support organizations even with events being cancelled.
- Offering Zoom accounts to local nonprofits at no cost for as long as we need to remain virtual. Since March, we have funded 119 licensed users with more than 5,000 meetings held.
- Proactively making contributions to organizations that are providing direct services that support basic human needs, resulting in over $100,000 of funding to local nonprofits.
As the days and weeks went on, we realized the pandemic wasn’t something that was going away quickly. We continued to work with our partners and other philanthropic organizations throughout the state to determine the ever-evolving needs of the community. Here are some of the additional ways we have been helping to support COVID-19 efforts:
- Contributed over a half a million dollars to the healthcare systems supporting the Central Jersey Shore. Of that, $250,000 was given to both the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health System Emergency Relief Fund and Hackensack Meridian Health to distribute among the hospitals within Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Additionally, CentraState Medical Center received $25,000.
- Committed $250,000 to provide six coronavirus testing centers to Monmouth County residents in more densely populated, higher risk neighborhoods in Asbury Park, Freehold, Keansburg, Long Branch, Neptune and Red Bank. This is being done in partnership with the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders which has committed $250,000 of CARES Act funding.
- Contributed $250,000 to the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation. The Fund was developed collaboratively by a coalition of arts funders across the state, including the Grunin Foundation, the Dodge Foundation, Prudential Foundation, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts, to assist New Jersey artists and arts organizations for short-term recovery and long-term sustainability. The mission of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund is to ensure the survival and strength of the state’s arts and culture sector during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to providing funding, we have been participating on committees, calls and collaborative efforts to continue making an impact in our nonprofit and business communities. We have also kept our Catapult Institute sessions going virtually, and even added more workshops than originally planned. We know how important it is for everyone to stay connected, feel a sense of normalcy and have the opportunity to lean on each other for support. The Foundation has hosted several interactive webinars and virtual networking events based on specific feedback from our nonprofit partners, with much more to come.
We have also been actively listening to the racial justice and equity discussions going on in our community and the nation. While we don’t have all the answers, we pledge to be an effective part of the solution and help foster the dialogue within our communities, working towards a more just and equitable society. Not only have we begun to do the work internally as a Foundation, we have convened a diverse group of leaders from higher education institutions at the Central Jersey Shore to discuss ideas on how we can together make impact on this important issue within Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Our goal is to help foster the creation of something that can be used throughout New Jersey and beyond as a shining example of what can be achieved when a community works together to first understand and then, ultimately, eliminate structural racism.
The road ahead is long but one thing is certain, we will continue to be true to our mission to improve the quality of life for all members of our community by using philanthropy to drive economic excellence at the Central Jersey Shore. We could not do any of this without the hard work of our nonprofit partners, businesses and all who are on the frontlines keeping us safe, healthy and making sure our community and economy are thriving.
Stay safe, stay healthy and we look forward to better days ahead.