The ‘I Am Trenton Community Foundation’ highlights successful city programs
by Ali Wilson/ The Times of Trenton/ November 24, 2011
Many challenges face our Capital City. Violent crime is increasing; budgets to historical and cultural institutions are being cut; the education and protection of our children continues to prove challenging; unemployment plagues society; hopelessness and fear fester in the hearts and minds of our citizens. Trenton is in the middle of some very tough economic, cultural and political times. Yet, looking at what groups are doing at the grass roots level, I am convinced that our city is poised for a renaissance. The comeback will not be driven by government alone; it will be aided by Trenton’s residents. Beautiful things are happening in neighborhoods, schools and churches of this fine city.
The I Am Trenton Community Foundation awards grants to agencies and organizations that serve residents in Trenton. Our goal is to support organizations that improve our community and add to its quality of life through a competitive grant-making program that promotes equity and diversity in Trenton. We also encourage partnerships. The core program areas include: community and cultural connections, community development, youth development and education and training.
This month, the I Am Trenton Community Foundation supported 10 tremendous projects with our grants for 2011. We recently announced the awardees in a ceremony at the Old Barracks Museum. Especially during this time of austere budgets, we are proud to support the culturally significant programming that the Old Barracks provides.
A grant will help defray the cost of providing the “Meet the Past” program to students from Trenton schools. This innovative living history program incorporates personalized “first-person” historical interpretations that enhance classroom teaching about New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution, creates memorable educational experiences, and stimulates critical thinking on the causes of the American Revolution and its meaning for government and citizenship today.
The South District CPAC received a grant to increase civic engagement in the South Ward by working on two activities: a community newsletter in English and Spanish that will publish all the South Ward Civic Association meeting places, times and contact information, and a mulching program, in partnership with Trees for Trenton, that will support community cleanups and provide mulch for trees.
The Island Civic Association received a grant to support updating and reprinting the “Preparing for River Flooding: Flood Emergency Planning” brochure, which will help current and future Island residents better understand the risks of flooding from the Delaware River and include a set of strategies for evacuation preparation, reducing the effects of flooding on their properties and coping with the effects when they return home.
The Trenton Film Society received a grant to support the Youth Filmmakers Program, which will bring together a diverse group of Trenton youth and give them an opportunity to view exceptional films. Professionals will guide the participants in understanding filmmaking techniques and show them how to make their own films.
Dance Spora received a grant to support “The Dreamer,” a Black History Month dance theater performance whose theme is “cultivating our dreams through self-belief and determined action.” In addition to Dance Spora’s amazing dancers, it will feature some of our talented Trenton area students. Performances will take place at the Mill Hill Playhouse, Feb. 13-19, 2012.
Echo Inc. received support for Senior Sports Night, a collaborative effort by senior citizens from the Trenton area. Senior Sports Night will engage senior citizens across racial, ethnic, religious and economic lines to collaborate during May 2012, in celebration of Older Americans Month, and to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Trenton Central High School’s Chambers Street campus.
The below four grants were made from our Hope and Respect Fund, which is designated for organizations that provide educational resources, thought leadership, self-reliance and personal responsibility training for women and children — in particular, children raising their own children in Trenton.
Young Scholar’s Institute received a grant to support its college admissions, financial aid and career-planning workshops.
Living Hope Empowerment Center was awarded a grant to support Women’s Empowerment Day in Trenton, a one-day forum and celebration that encompasses workshops, group discussions, exhibits and service stations on matters dealing with finances, healthy eating and fitness.
Phi Delta Kappa received a grant to support a youth empowerment program for high school students. Through interactive activities, theatrical strategies and motivational speakers, the program will provide students with strategies to begin their personal and career decision-making process.
Our final grantee this year is Kids Against Bullying, Gangs and Violence, to support its Bullyproof: Healing, Comforting and Saving Our Youth program, which is designed to educate the community, specifically our school-aged population, about bullying and how to deal with its effects.
While times may be tough, the people and communities of Trenton are tougher. We learned firsthand how to make it through a hard season from George Washington and the patriots in 1776. The I Am Trenton Community Foundation’s 2011 grantees represent some of the best our city has to offer. We have learned that our community can work hard to solve problems together. I Am Trenton Community Foundation will be there to support these efforts at their infancy and beyond.
Ali Wilson is president of the I Am Trenton Community Foundation.