154 Jersey City entities receive thousands of grant dollars from local COVID-19 relief fund

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Jersey City officials today revealed that 154 local, community-based organizations received thousands of grant dollars from the city’s local COVID-19 relief fund.

The awardees include 119 artists and arts organization selected by the Jersey City Arts Council, 12 summer youth non-profit organizations, 11 art program organizations, and 12 community-based organizations identified to receive the grants ranging from $5,000 to $65,000.

“It’s great to be able to support, with real dollars, the meaningful organizations here in Jersey City,” Mayor Steven Fulop said outside of the Creative Kidz facility, located at 758 Ocean Ave., this morning.

The city announced a $3 million local relief fund back in April and are now putting those funds to use.

Naquasha Hawkins, the Creative Kidz founder and CEO, was unable to hold back tears when she took the podium to acknowledge her $15,000 grant allocation.

“This means a lot: I worked hard. I would get up every weekend to work with these kids. Where I’m from in Jersey City we didn’t have these opportunities. The urban communities in Jersey City are limited to a lot of things,” Hawkins stated.

“It takes a lot to put things together for our children. I felt like we needed this: I was born and raised on Salem Court, I took my own money, I never received nothing from anyone. I got my own non-profit, I worked hard for this.”

She added that she was overwhelmed to know that her work was being recognized by the city in some way, noting that she doesn’t work for accolades.

The Relief Distribution grant awardees have been selected by the Jersey City COVID-19 Relief Committee, which includes members of the City Council, the mayor’s office, and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC) board members.

The mayor-appointed oversight committee was tasked with the selection process to identify community-based nonprofit organizations directly impacted by the pandemic to address losses in revenue and COVID-19 related costs.

The largest grants will be provided to several non-profits, including $65,000 to the Jersey City Parks Coalition to help maintain all city parks and open spaces.

Additionally, both the Hudson County Boys & Girls Club and New City Kids will receive $50,000 each to address the importance of youth engagement during summer months and will be required to use the money to develop youth recreation as well as enrichment and employment programs, with a focus on outdoor activities that address public health social distancing guidance.

The Arts Relief funding component is being administered in collaboration with the Jersey City Arts Council to help artists and arts organizations address losses in revenue and income as well as pandemic-related costs.

Furthermore, the committee is allocating $100,000 to the Jersey City Arts Council from the Mayor’s Fund to manage applications and award grants to the artist community, a community already severely underfunded by the state and among the most financially strained amid the pandemic.

The Arts Council will be awarding grants to 119 individual artists or arts organizations in the amounts of $500, $1,000 or $3,000 to be used to create and implement visual and performing arts programming, with a priority on arts education for children as well as arts programming that will help revitalize commercial areas reopening.

On Friday, the full list of grant awardees will be posted on the art council’s website.

“The Arts Council is grateful that the Mayor and EDC recognize the importance of supporting the arts community through this crisis,” JCAC Arts Council Co-Chair Heather Warfel-Sandler said in a statement.

“This kind of support is new and unprecedented and we are hopeful that this is the first of many steps toward continued support for the arts which brings so much depth and diversity to our city.”

Meanwhile, all first round grant recipients will be listed on the JCEDC’s website at 2 p.m. today.

“Remaining funds will be awarded to nonprofit organizations to provide direct financial aid and supports to low-income families, including rent relief,” added JCEDC Vice Chair Vivian Brady-Philips.

“The JCEDC is working with city departments and agencies to design this program, which will provide aid to residents regardless of immigration status.”