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Montclair Non-Profits Provide Myriad Services, Seek Grant Money

2014 CDBG grant applicants include Succeed2Gether, COPE, HomeCorp, United Way of Northern New Jersey Family Success Center, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, KinderSmile, S.O.F.I.A., and Interfaith Housing Network.

Michael Blume, a Montclair High and Yale grad, is Succeed2Together's music instructor. Bloom worked with the students to create a song for the end-of-camp concert. Photo credit: Teresa Akersten
Michael Blume, a Montclair High and Yale grad, is Succeed2Together's music instructor. Bloom worked with the students to create a song for the end-of-camp concert. Photo credit: Teresa Akersten

Eight local organizations, which provide services ranging from tutoring to drug counseling to financial literacy, made their cases to the Montclair Council for receiving a chunk of funds available to the township through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Tuesday night.

At the hearing for HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), each non-profit group took five minutes to present how much money they were requesting and why. 

This year’s applicants asking for more than $10,000 are: Succeed2Gether, COPE, HomeCorp, United Way of Northern New Jersey Family Success Center, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, KinderSmile, S.O.F.I.A., and Interfaith Housing Network.

Two additional groups requesting less than $10,000 were not required to make presentations.

An eleventh grant is being submitted by the township to complete streetscape improvements on Glenridge Avenue, explained Janice Talley, Director of Planning and Community Development.

Montclair received $321,000 in CDBG money for 2013 and has yet to learn its allocation for 2014.

“We will go under the assumption that funding levels will be approximately the same as last year,” Talley said.

The township’s portion would complete a three-year streetscape improvement project of Glenridge Avenue to Grove Street, and would include resurfacing, new sidewalks and pedestrian lights. The town is requesting $182,400 for the final phase.

The organizations and the township are seeking just over $488,000 in CDBG money. After the actual allocation is received, the township will decide how to adjust each group's requests.

Here's a little information about each applicant:

Succeed2Gether
CDBG Request: $62,000
http://bwpif.org

Succeed2Gether is dedicated to closing the opportunity gap for low- and moderate-income families, President and Executive Director Marcia Marley explained.

The non-profit is in its fourth year and serves families by providing a summer camp, weekend and evening tutoring and empowerment workshops to help parents navigate through the school system.

Succeed2Gether’s summer camp served 240 area children in 2013 at the cost of $600 per child.

Marley said the program follows the students into the school year to measure achievement.

“This stops the summer slide. If you really want to close the achievement gap you close the opportunity gap and we are doing that,” she said.

COPE Center
CDBG Request: $39,500
www.copecenter.net

COPE has operated in the community since 1968, and today provides substance abuse programs, anger and stress management and other preventative programs, said Sue A. Seidenfeld, executive director.

Clients are referred through courts, hospitals and by word of mouth, and range from infants to seniors.

Seidenfeld said increased stresses in society make their work more vital than ever.

At COPE, she said, the focus is on family stability and family unity, helping people get back to a “productive life.”

United Way of Northern New Jersey Family Success Center
CDBG Request: $38,915
www.unitedwaynnj.org

The United Way’s Family Success Center provides job resources to those who can barely afford to live in Montclair as well as those living below the poverty line, explained Director Durelle McPherson and Board Chair Peter Keating.

Some 27% of households in North Essex are considered to be ALICE (asset limited income constrained yet still employed) or lower.

The Family Success Center helps those individuals upgrade their job skills and get better work all under one roof.

Career coaching is provided for free, as are computers to help with the job search. Workshops are offered in Budgeting 101, goal setting and computer use.

Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation
CDBG Request: $52,690 
https://montclairmndc.org

Case Manager Elaine Spears said the MNDC helped provide 14 area teenagers with summer jobs in 2013. The youth worked at the United Way, Toni’s Kitchen and other local organizations. The MNDC would like to increase that number to 40 next year.

“It isn’t a fluff program, it’s a program that really works,” Spears said.

Albert Edward Pelham, executive director of the MNDC, said $20,000 of the requested CDBG money will go to those jobs. The rest, Pelham said, will continue to fund Project Oasis, Winter Oasis, a homework help program and other services.

In order to qualify for a summer job, teens were required to take a financial literacy class and conduct community service.

HomeCorp.
CDBG Request: $30,000 
www.homecorp.org

HomeCorp helps individuals and families by preparing them and educating them about home ownership, explained Beverly Riddick, executive director.

The non-profit empowers residents to make sound financial decisions, build wealth and credit and stabilize their lives.

Programs include workshops on predatory lending, landlord-tenant issues and identity theft, as well as first-time homeowner seminars.

HomeCorp partners with the National Council of Jewish Women to help clients with job interview skills and prepare them for interviews through Dress for Success.

The group also helps clients who cannot find work because of minor legal issues by getting their records expunged.

KinderSmile Foundation
CDBG Request: $30,000 
www.kindersmile.org

KinderSmile was founded in 2007 and requested funding for its two major programs.

An Oral Health Fair conducted on the first Friday in February helps some 250 pre-school aged children from low-income families get free oral health care. 

The organization also provides Community Service Learning to high school and college students.

S.O.F.I.A.
CDBG Request: $20,000 
http://supportsofia.org

Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates, affectionately known as S.O.F.I.A., is a first-time CDBG applicant, according to Cynthia Walker, executive director and founder.

The four-year-old organization assists victims and survivors of domestic violence, as well as their children, and raises awareness about domestic abuse. They provide 24/7 assistance for emergency housing and financial assistance.

Programs have been presented at Montclair High School and Glenfield Middle School, and programs for grammar school-age and pre-school students are in the works.

“Bullying is the beginning stages of a domestic violence abuser,” Walker said.

“I was told I was a visionary,” Walker said. “I don’t know how I come up with these programs but they are working.”

S.O.F.I.A.’s services are confidential and no one is turned away.

Interfaith Hospitality Network
CDBG Request: $33,000 
http://ihnessexnj.org

The Interfaith Hospitality Network provides homeless families shelter through interfaith partnerships and helps with transition into permanent housing and independence, according to Leslie Brown, interim executive director.

Where other groups separate mothers and children from fathers, the organization prides itself in keeping families intact.

They receive 10 to 15 calls a day, Brown said, and approximately 20% of those served are from Montclair.

What's Next? 

The Montclair Council will adopt a resolution prioritizing the applications which will be adopted at the Tuesday, Dec. 10 meeting. The resolution and applications will be submitted to the county by the Dec. 30 deadline.

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