AARP Awards 2021 Community Challenge Grant

The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation has been named a recipient of a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of five grantees selected in New Jersey. Recognizing the groundbreaking achievements of Black suffragists, the Foundation will launch the Black women’s mural project to capture and elevate the stories of Black women in Englewood, New Jersey. The project also honors their voices and accomplishments and promotes civil discourse.

Project to Raise Awareness of Black Suffragists

The mural will celebrate local Black women’s stories, raise awareness of the Black suffragists and promote diversity and inclusion in the community. Residents participate in the mural design process through workshops.  In addition, participants learn about the history of Black suffragists and relate their journeys to personal experiences. Sharing stories and perspectives also captures community vision and imagery for the mural.

AARP awards Community Challenge grant for the Black women's mural project.

AARP awards Community Challenge grant for the Black women’s mural project.

“The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation is delighted to receive a grant through the 2021 AARP Community Challenge.  This award helps us to implement the ‘Women’s Mural Project: Celebrating Black Suffragists and Achievements of Black Women in Englewood,’” said Mary Blanusa, Executive Director, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation. “Black residents and the Englewood community-at-large provide content input. A professional artist designs this groundbreaking mural and paints it on the East-facing wall of the Women’s Rights Information Center. This public art project also brings the community together to celebrate Black women’s voices and accomplishments. The mural also beautifies the city.”

This project is part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.2 million awarded among 244 organizations nationwide. Grantees implement quick-action projects to promote livable communities.  They achieve this by improving housing, transportation, and public spaces.  Furthermore, projects accomplish this through civic engagement and connection with family, friends, and neighbors. They also place an emphasis on the needs of the 50-plus. Many of this year’s awards support revitalizing communities adversely impacted by the pandemic. Moreover, they include a focus on diversity, inclusion, and disparities.

Outcomes Driven Projects

All projects plan to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
  • Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
  • Increase civic engagement by bringing together residents and local leaders to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
  • Ensure a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
  • Support local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by emphasizing economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services.

“We are incredibly excited to support the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation as they work to make immediate improvements in their community to encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director. “Our goal at AARP New Jersey is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative.  This initiative supports municipalities, neighborhoods and rural areas’ efforts to become great places to live for people of all ages. Since 2017, AARP New Jersey has awarded 804 grants, totaling $9.3 million to nonprofit organizations and government entities statewide. Other 2021 New Jersey grantees include the Jersey City Housing Authority and Berkeley Heights Township.  In addition, Camden Community Partnership and the Borough of Red Bank received grant awards. For more information, view the full list of grantees and their project descriptions.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.