Two history NPOs with ties to the Hopewell Valley receive NJ Arts & Culture grants

SSAAM co-founder and Hopewell Borough resident Elaine Buck shows visitors around the SSAAM museum. Photo courtesy of

The New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund recently awarded $664,500 in grants to 30 nonprofits statewide. Since its founding in 2020, the Fund has awarded more than $7.4 million to more than 200 organizations across New Jersey. The Fund, hosted by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, offers critical grant dollars for many of the State’s smaller nonprofit organizations in the arts, culture, and historical sectors.

The most recent grants were awarded in two phases. Eleven nonprofits received grants from the Fund for the first time, and for the first time, one round of grants was dedicated to history organizations.

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), in Skillman, was among the grantees.

“Our work gives voice to individuals who were relegated to the margins, by unearthing, preserving, and sharing their stories with the broader community,” Catherine Fulmer-Hogan, Hopewell Township resident and Board President of SSAAM said. “This work is essential if we are to imagine and advance a more just and equitable future. We are incredibly grateful to the NJ Arts and Culture Renewal Fund for seeing the value in our mission and for supporting us in its advancement.”

Smaller arts and culture organizations contribute greatly to our understanding of each other and of our world, said Lynne Toye, Executive Director of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund. 

“By supporting organizations that tell inclusive stories, we are helping to provide opportunities for representation of all who contribute to the rich and diverse cultural community of New Jersey,” she said.

The Sixth Regiment of the US Colored Troops Civil War Re-enactors also operates as the First Rhode Island Regiment of Foot, which re-enacts the lives of Revolutionary War soldiers. The Regiment is based in Trenton and partners with Washington Crossing State Park to bring the stories of real people during the Revolution to life. This grant is for the renovation of the Locust Hill museum and cemetery site, which will be the first Black museum in Trenton and is sponsored by the Regiment.

Sixth Regiment of the US Colored Troops Civil War Re-enactors. Photo courtesy of their website. Ward is the farthest to the right.

The Regiment’s President, Algernon Ward, told MercerMe: “We are pleased that 6th Regiment United States Colored Troops is being awarded a grant for general operating support in the amount of $14,000.00 for our request to the 2023 New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund Phase 6.

He continued: “It is impossible to calculate the value of instilling a sense of pride and self-worth in the psyche of a people who must continually struggle against society’s projection that they are “less than” others. When the demonstrable facts of history prove that African Americans have sacrificed all for the success of the American Experiment, a deeper sense of ownership in the American dream is fertilized. As African Americans learn more about their history, they come to appreciate that they, and their ancestors, are not mere observers of history, but history makers. That what they did had tangible benefits to the United States, and that Black Lives Matter, then and now. It is our mission to “tell the story”.

“The New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund directly addresses disparities in funding that were present before the pandemic and have increased in its aftermath,” said Sharnita C. Johnson, Vice President of Strategy, Impact and Communications at the Victoria Foundation and Co-Chair of the Fund. “The smaller cultural organizations supported by the New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund serve multiple functions in their communities.  They are important anchors central to community wellbeing and quality of life in the areas they serve.”

The New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund is an unprecedented collaboration between private and public donors. Jeremy Grunin, President of the Grunin Foundation and Fund Co-Chair, said they are grateful to be entering their third year of grantmaking, as the effects of the pandemic are still being felt in the sector.

“NJACRF continues to evolve to best support New Jersey arts, culture and historical organizations,” he said.  “The folks in this sector have tirelessly shown their dedication to their profession by carrying out their work even when they had limited capacity and resources. They know how important the arts, culture and history are to the wellbeing of individuals and the entire community. Their work did not stop, and neither will ours.”

Grants ranged in size from $2,000 to $50,000, with an average grant size of $22,000. Grants were awarded to:

Atlantic County 

  • Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation Inc., Atlantic City
  • Atlantic City Arts Foundation, Atlantic City
  • South Jersey Cultural Alliance , Hammonton

Cape May County 

  • Harriet Tubman Museum, Cape May             
  • Center for Community Arts, Inc., Cape May  

Burlington County

  • Alice Paul Institute, Mount Laurel
  • Whitesbog Preservation Trust, Browns Mills section of Pemberton             

Camden County

  • Lawnside Historical Society, Inc., Lawnside    
  • Camden County Historical Society, Camden
  • Camden Fireworks, Camden    
  • Superior Arts Institute , Camden                     

Cumberland County

  • Millville Army Airfield Museum, Inc., Millville           

Essex County

  • Montclair History Center, Montclair  
  • New Jersey Historical Society, Newark           
  • Newark Arts, Newark
  • Dance New Jersey, Verona

Hudson County

  • Surati for Performing Arts, Jersey City 
  • Jersey City Arts Council, Inc., Jersey City        

Mercer County

  • Sixth Regiment of the US Colored Troops Civil War Re-enactors, Trenton                   
  • Young Audiences NJ and Eastern PA, Princeton

Middlesex County

  • Lost Souls Public Memorial Project Inc., East Brunswick                   
  • Redhawk Indigenous Arts Council, South Amboy

Monmouth County

  • New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Allenhurst
  • Jazz Arts Project, Inc., Red Bank         
  • Monmouth Arts, Red Bank     
  • T. Thomas Fortune Foundation, Red Bank

Somerset County

  • Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Skillman section of Montgomery           

Sussex County

  • Sparta Historical Society Inc., Sparta 
  • Peters Valley School of Craft, Layton section of Sandyston               

Union County

  • Institute of Music for Children, Elizabeth   

Information for this article was, in part, provided by PACF

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