How to rebuild NJ after Sandy? Recovery Fund accepting grant applications

The battered roller coaster at Seaside Heights. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
The battered roller coaster at Seaside Heights. Photo by Berit Ollestad.

Got an idea for rebuilding a stronger New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy?

If it’s a good one, the New Jersey Recovery Fund may underwrite it.

The battered roller coaster at Seaside Heights. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
The battered roller coaster at Seaside Heights. Photo by Berit Ollestad.

The Community Foundation of New Jersey in Morris Township has established guidelines for grant applications, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown will accept letters of inquiry from prospective applicants through Feb. 25, 2013.

Nearly $5 million has been raised for grants, which will be distributed in five categories that “support catalytic ideas and projects with an emphasis on innovation, collaboration, resiliency and sustainability,” according to the Dodge Foundation.

“It’s meant to help us recover in a smarter, more strategic way, so we don’t have to endure this again,” said Molly de Aguiar, communications director for the Dodge Foundation.

The funding categories broadly fall into five areas:

  • Public information and community engagement
  • Reframing the conversation: Policy reform to support resiliency and sustainability
  • Innovative community/regional planning demonstration projects
  • Environmental protection and restoration
  • Community-driven/participatory arts projects

To be eligible, applicants should be based in New Jersey or team with a nonprofit or municipality in the state. Applicants who are invited to submit full proposals will be notified by March 6, and they will have until March 22 to submit their applications.

The Dodge Foundation has pledged $1 million to the fund; other major contributors include the Knight Foundation, the Patterson Foundation, the Subaru of America Foundation and the Dave Matthews Band.

Devastation at the Jersey Shore, by Berit Ollestad for

“New Jersey will face tough choices in the months and years ahead as it looks to rebuild. The philanthropic community will help lead the way with its knowledge of, and experience with, creating solutions to the challenges faced by our communities and by devoting resources that can help bring the best thinking and expertise to bear on New Jersey’s recovery,”  Community Foundation President Hans Dekker said in a statement about the fund.

“The role and expertise of the philanthropic community is to provide steadfast, long-term support of nonprofits which provide the critical programs and services that New Jerseyans rely on every day,” Dodge Foundation President Chris Daggett added in a statement.

Molly de Aguiar emphasized that the fund is not about stop-gap solutions or quick fixes.

“This is not meant to be emergency relief in any way,”  Molly explained. “It’s not meant to make nonprofits whole after what they lost. It’s meant to help New Jersey think about the place we want to be in the long term.”

Understandably, everyone wants to rebuild quickly and return to normal as swiftly as possible, she said. But it’s important to do so in a way that prevents future disasters.

“It’s the Recovery Fund’s role to support communities and nonprofits thinking about what have we learned from other places around the world that have been through this, so we’re not finding ourselves in the same place five years or 10 years or 50 years from now,” she said.



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