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More charitable news from Bank of America

by Community Contributor

In addition to awarding Hopewell Township resident Mark Bean for his work with the local environment, Bank of America announced this week that it is providing a multi-year $200,000 grant to two nonprofits to address New Jersey’s economic mobility and underserved neighborhoods. Anchor House and CUMAC Echo Inc. have been named as the 2023 Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work toward decreasing food insecurity and youth homelessness in New Jersey.

Anchor House helps to prevent and end youth homelessness while preparing youth to live productive and independent lives. Responding to critical needs in the community, Anchor House provides the only youth shelter, transitional living, and street outreach program targeting youth in Mercer County, and one of two supportive housing programs in the county for young adults. In addition, they offer a trauma informed care approach in all their programs.

The new grant funding will assist in hiring staff and opening a clinical department to increase mental and behavioral health services in Mercer County, expand the Rapid Rehousing Program and explore direct leasing through building acquisition/ownership, purchase a programmatic database and more.

“This year, Anchor House is celebrating 45 years of service to prevent and end youth homelessness in Mercer County,” said Kim McNear, executive director, Anchor House. “A recent report shows that there was a 34% increase in homelessness in Mercer County between 2022 and 2023 and that in 2023, 28% of those experiencing homelessness in this community were youth under 18, demonstrating the need for Anchor House’s programs. This impactful grant from Bank of America will help us continue to provide hope and life-changing programs to hundreds of youth, while also executing our three-year strategic plan.”

CUMAC is the largest anti-hunger organization in Passaic County, serving families in Paterson for more than 38 years. At CUMAC, ending hunger is about addressing the root cause, trauma. Their mission is to fight hunger and its root causes through a holistic, trauma-informed strategy that provides groceries and necessities to those in need. CUMAC’s long term vision to address trauma is to give power and resources to residents and to create a self-healing community in Passaic County.

Funds awarded to CUMAC will go towards their ability to provide individuals and families with secure

vital resources such as fresh and healthy foods, a cost that has doubled over the last year. In addition, CUMAC will use the grant to build on their supportive services to create a one-stop comprehensive social services agency.

“Being named a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder is such an honor,” said Jessica Padilla Gonzalez, chief executive officer, CUMAC. “Our nonprofit is always appreciative of partners who believe in our approach to anti-hunger work and trauma-informed programming. We look forward to building our services and portfolio with this funding – it is surely going to make an impact in Paterson.”

In addition to the grant, each organization will receive comprehensive leadership training for their executive director and additional training for an emerging leader at the organization. The training will include topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling.

McNear and Alashia Mays, case manager for the Connect to Home Program, will represent Anchor House during leadership training. Gonzalez and Program Manager, Katherine Guerrero will represent CUMAC.

“Anchor House and CUMAC address significant needs in our New Jersey communities,” said Alberto Garofalo, president, Bank of America New Jersey. “Providing these nonprofits with flexible funding and leadership training not only positions them for sustainable, long-term success, but also demonstrates our commitment to creating real change in the places where we live and work.”

Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders® is an invitation-only highly competitive program and one of the largest philanthropic investments into nonprofit leadership development in the nation. Nonprofits are selected by a committee comprised of community leaders and past Builders awardees. In New Jersey, 40 nonprofits have been selected as Neighborhood Builders since 2004, with the bank investing $8 million into these local organizations.  

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested more than $300 million in nearly 100 communities across the U.S., partnered with more than 1,600 nonprofits, and helped more than 3,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills through the Neighborhood Builders and Champions program.

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