Empowering Youth Changemakers
The Empowering Youth Changemakers program was launched with 19 teens in attendance, under the direction of Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. BGCM is collaborating with Teen Think TankProject Write NowTrenton Circus SquadRWJ Barnabas Health and Lead U, along with the Empowering Youth Changemakers Working Group members. Moving forward, BGCM is putting together a program calendar that will include dates, times and locations for future sessions and will have the partner agencies plugged in. They held their first session, “Teen Leadership” which introduced key leadership concepts to the participants. In addition, the teens voted on leadership positions for the group. The next session is scheduled for October 19th and the topic will be, “What is your passion?” More updates to come.

Amplifying BIPOC Leadership
We are continuing with planning and will share more information once the Amplifying BIPOC Leadership strategy is solidified.

Empowering Communities to Center Equity
This strategy will focus on advocacy for 2022-23. We have many partners in this work, including BolderAdvocacyCouncil of New Jersey GrantmakersNew Jersey Center for Nonprofits and consultant, Orville Morales of The People’s Lobbyist®.

On September 8, we hosted a Let’s Talk About Advocacy Breakfast and Discussion and had a great turnout of Ocean and Monmouth County nonprofits and businesses who came to learn how they can get involved to create change in the community and the world. Orville Morales of The People’s Lobbyist® and Linda Czipo of New Jersey Center for Nonprofits spoke about the whys and hows of advocacy. Orville also talked about an exciting Pragmatic Activism Cohort opportunity presented by the Grunin Foundation in partnership with The People’s Lobbyist® beginning in September.

The Pilot Pragmatic Activism Cohort will accept 20 individuals from the Ocean and Monmouth County nonprofit and business community, who will work together through six phases of pragmatic activism which is a strategic approach to social change that allows for intentional and reasonable action that is sustainable over time. We will have more updates as the Cohort moves forward.

In the Fall of 2022, the Grunin Foundation in collaboration with The People’s Lobbyist, is offering an in-depth Pragmatic Activism Cohort for 20 Monmouth & Ocean County nonprofit/business members.

This program will teach nonprofits and businesses the importance of advocacy and how they can get involved. The cohort will be led by The People’s Lobbyist®, Orville Morales, who teaches Pragmatic Activism using a six-phase approach:

Why We Exist
We believe that we cannot change people we disagree with until we face them. We work with folks who consider themselves invested agents who care about their impact in the world and are willing to speak their minds through their presence at work, in their neighborhoods, and beyond.

Who We Are
We are a consulting firm whose purpose is to inspire people to see how their actions have an impact on others.

What We Do
Our goal is to help people and organizations maintain a long-term commitment towards the social good, ensuring you are part of the broader, more public dialogue around topics you care about and allow for nuance and complexity to conversations and debates.

Pragmatic Activism
A strategic approach to social change that allows for intentional and reasonable action that is sustainable over time.

Tuesday, October 25th, 8AM – 1PM (Phase 1 & 2)
Phase 1: Where You Stand
We provide a pair of assessments to get a
sense of who you are, what you believe, and
explore the kinds of actions towards social
good you have done in the past or are willing
to move forward.

Phase 2: Tree of Influence
We facilitate a discussion to explore who
you can influence via public policy as an
advocate in your region. This workshop
includes a deep analysis of the various levels
of the government in the region and their
prevailing priorities of the day.

Tuesday, November 29th, 8AM – 1PM  (Phase 3 & 4)
Phase 3: Other Voices in the Field

You are not alone in your region, so we
explore the other voices you must listen to
and consider when taking action. This
session includes exploring how these voices
advocate on behalf of issues important to

Phase 4: Timing of Influence
Explore the timing of opportunities for
change in your region and identify the
action steps necessary to make the most of
that timing.

Tuesday, December 13th, 8AM – 1PM (Phase 5 & 6)

Phase 5: Public Engagement
We will facilitate a discussion to prepare
you to begin talking about your efforts and
develop action steps for you to get started
in your pragmatic activism.

Phase 6: Triage of

This session is all about planning, executing,
and troubleshooting public engagement if
things go wrong. But, ultimately, this phase
is about putting it all together and
providing a road map that can protect your
journey from negative fallout.

To learn more, visit: https://www.peopleslobbyistnj.com/

Who is the Pragmatic Activism Cohort for?

The cohort will accept 20 individuals from nonprofit organizations and businesses in Monmouth or Ocean Counties, based on an application process.

When will the Pragmatic Activism Cohort take place?

The training will take place over three sessions – with attendance required.

NJ City University @ Fort Monmouth
Squier Hall
283 Sherrill Avenue
Oceanport NJ, 07757

For directions, CLICK HERE

Session Dates/Times:

Tuesday, October 25th, 8AM – 1PM
Tuesday, November 29th, 8AM – 1PM
Tuesday, December 13th, 8AM – 1PM
Breakfast & lunch will be provided at each session.

*Please note: If circumstances arise and you are unable to make a session in person, we will make zoom available.

Who will be leading the Pragmatic Activism Cohort?

Orville Morales, The People’s Lobbyist®

To learn more about Orville, CLICK HERE.

In addition, Linda Czipo of the New Jersey Center of Nonprofits, will be a guest presenter during the cohort. 

How do I apply to be part of the Pragmatic Activism Cohort?

To apply to be a part of the cohort, please click here to complete this brief application by Tuesday, September 13th

Notifications to those accepted into the first cohort will be made no later than Friday, September 16th

What if my application is not accepted into the first pilot of 20?

We will be doing additional cohorts in the future and will put together a wait list based on applications this time around.  If you are not in the first cohort, we will be in communication about future opportunities. 

Is there a fee to participate in the program?

Absolutely not! We are so grateful to those giving of their time to participate in the cohort. Those who participate in the program will receive a $500 Visa Gift Card* as an acknowledgement of their commitment.

Is there a way to learn more before I apply?

Of course! On Thursday, September 8th at NJ City University @ Fort Monmouth, we will be hosting a breakfast panel session from 8:30AM – 10:30AM. For more information or to register, please CLICK HERE.

We’re looking forward to this first Pragmatic Activism Cohort, with more to come in the future!

*Important Note: Awards/Gifts/Stipends (cash and non-cash) that equal or exceed $600 per calendar year, are reportable to the IRS. This payment may be taxable. Please consult your tax advisor. W9 Form will be required for Awards/Gifts/Stipends that equal or exceed a cumulative total of $600 in a calendar year.

Our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) Working Groups have begun. You can learn more about how we started these groups and the overall strategy by visiting our EDI Working Group webpage.

Each of the three groups (Empowering Youth Changemakers, Amplifying Diverse Leadership, Empowering Communities that Center Equity) met for the first time in September. The first meeting started with introductions of each member. We then gave an overview of the Grunin Foundation and how we got to this point in our EDI journey.

Before we jumped into the work, we wanted everyone to get to know each other a little better. These groups will be working together over the next several months so building trust and comfort is important. We broke the full team down into smaller groups and discussed the personal journeys in our careers as well as challenges we are facing. Group members shared stories, tips, resources and even a few tears of joy and inspiration.

Each table then discussed what their specific equity pillar (Empowering Youth Changemakers, Amplifying Diverse Leadership, Empowering Communities that Center Equity) meant to them. After the group members had a chance to discuss at their tables, they were able to share with the full room. One person at each table took notes which we compiled and sent back out to everyone so we can continuing building off these ideas at each meeting. We were also recommended a book from one of our group members – “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee – which the Grunin Foundation will supply to all EDI working group members who are interested in reading it.

We ended the first meeting with some great questions and suggestions that will guide this journey. One specific suggestion to note is that we should specifically call out what we are trying to do such as “Amplifying BIPOC Leaderships” vs. “Amplifying Diverse Leadership.” We are taking all of this feedback (or “feedforward” as we learned from our friends at Idea2Form) and will be revising our strategies and language as we get deeper into this work.

We’ll start the next sessions where we left off – really thinking about and discussing what each pillar means…

  • What does Empowering Communities that Center Equity mean? Specifically, what does “community” really mean? 
  • What does amplifying BIPOC leadership mean?
  • What does empowering youth changemakers mean?

Once we have these important conversations, we will get into the mapping exercise. This will help us gain a better understanding of the work that is currently happening at the Central Jersey Shore (Monmouth & Ocean Counties) in the realm of each of the above EDIB pillars. We will try to capture as many programs/activities as possible happening at the local level and work to understand where there are gaps.

We are looking forward to our future meetings and making more progress in helping to break down barriers, uplift marginalized voices, celebrate diversity, and champion a more just and equitable society.

Stay tuned for more EDIB Working Group updates coming soon!

The Mission of Interfaith Neighbors

Interfaith Neighbors (IFN) is a non-profit organization founded in May 1988 when local faith communities came together to address the growing problem of homelessness. Their mission is to assist those less fortunate among us to meet life’s basic necessities, while seeking to improve the quality of life for individuals and families and the communities in which they live. Through the years, their services have grown to include distinct programs for Monmouth County residents, including:  Rental & Mortgage Assistance, Nutrition and Meals on Wheels, Affordable Housing, Neighborhood Revitalization, the Business Development Center, Kula Urban Farms, MacroBites @ Kula, and SOAR.

The Impact of COVID

Executive Director Paul McEvily, remembers the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic like it was yesterday. He watched as the world started to make changes, shutting down airports and other travel. It was St. Patrick’s Day of 2020 when Paul noticed that New Jersey started to become concerned and there were rumors of travel restriction within the United States. Shortly thereafter, everything shutdown.

The first plan of action was to figure out how to keep running one of Interfaith Neighbors’ largest programs, Meals on Wheels of Monmouth County. The priority was how to continue getting food to homebound residents given the growing social restrictions. Thinking ahead to combat any roadblocks, the team proactively worked with Monmouth County officials to get volunteers the credentials needed to continue the food delivery program. Meals on Wheels would become even more vital as COVID took hold and senior centers closed, taking away the communal aspect of sharing a meal at six sites across Monmouth County. Interfaith Neighbors was able to quickly pivot to not only continue daily delivery of over 1,100 meals to seniors’ doorsteps, but added those who could no longer receive meals at the senior centers to existing routes.

Because IFN utilizes a hub-and-spoke delivery network that relies on volunteers, concerns increased on how to keep these volunteers safe; many who are seniors that were forced to take a step back to focus their own health during the pandemic. At the same time, IFN was receiving an influx of volunteer opportunity inquiries, including from college students who were temporarily unemployed. McEvily repositioned his staff to address the on-boarding of new volunteers and to plug in gaps where needed. The team doubled their drivers and never missed a day of delivery!

Another initiative heavily impacted by the pandemic was IFN’s homelessness prevention program. While the Rental & Mortgage Assistance team normally assists 300-350 families annually, the COVID shutdowns resulted in 25 to 30 daily calls from families with emergent needs. This equated to more than 400 households over a period of just six months, partly because the local economy is heavily reliant on the hospitality industry, which shut down overnight. With jobs lost and the financial need growing for so many, McEvily and the Interfaith Neighbors team did all they could to counsel clients on where to focus the money, ie for prescriptions, food, utility bills, etc. IFN was able to provide emergent rental assistance to those who qualified, with the help of local funders who stepped forward and asked how they could help. The 33 year old nonprofit quickly established a COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Fund to provide support to individuals and families experiencing financial distress due to the pandemic. In all, over $500,000 was contributed to the fund by individuals, corporations and foundations. The fund continues to help families as the effects of the pandemic linger.

MacroBites @ Kula

Another part of the Interfaith Neighbors Network is MacroBites @ Kula, formerly Kula Café. In addition to being a community café and gathering place in Asbury Park’s underserved southwest neighborhood, Kula Café operated as a hospitality training and job placement program. With its shutdown due to COVID, it could no long be a viable conduit for the area’s young people entering the workforce. What seemed like a sad ending to a program that found stable employment for over 150 local youth since its 2013 inception, became a reimagining exercise that led to a worthy successor to the Café.

Childhood friends Fritz, Jarrette, and David are the founders of MacroBites @Kula, which is a ready-to-eat meal prep company. MacroBites preps, packs and ships healthy meals in the correct proportions. Fritz, Jarrette and David still had other jobs when they began this business and when they lost access to the kitchen they were using due to COVID, Paul reached out to them to talk about their goals. From that discussion, Paul knew this would be a great fit for not only the former Kula Café, but for the Asbury community. From there, MacroBites @Kula was born.

Fritz, Jarrette and David agreed to work with the young adults who were part of the Kula Café’s innovative workforce development program and are proud to be serving the community in which they grew up. In addition to shipping healthy meals, they opened up a small portion of the building for people to sit and be served meals. They’ve also contributed to the overall health of the community in other ways like hosting yoga in the park across the street from the café.

The Kula Farm

The Kula Farm is a social enterprise that provides on-site job training, educational programs, farm to table dinners and free fresh produce to neighbors in need, and has been in the community since 2015. Prior to the pandemic, the farm yield was sold to local restaurants and made available to those who were food insecure. The Asbury Park School District also collaborated with Kula Farm to provide meals to students. Any extra meals were given to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County to distribute to the community.

While the farm lost revenue generating capability from the restaurant shutdowns during COVID, it set up a commerce site so people could order fresh produce for pickup or delivery. This was a great way to ensure the farm yield didn’t go to waste and to fundraise. During the pandemic, Kula Farm collaborated with the AP Dinner Table Project, operated by local restaurant and provide fresh produce for the preparation and distribution to families in need due to the pandemic.

Silver Linings

While the pandemic has caused so much loss around the world, there have been some silver lining moments. The drive for people to help has been stronger than ever, even if their own situations weren’t optimal. Funders proactively reached out to see how they could help families in need. Grassroots efforts were spontaneously born that helped keep revenue flowing and services continuing. And, collaboration was stronger than ever, with many individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations coming together to make a bigger impact. A great example of this is Gwen Love, Executive Director of Lunch Break, providing her Red Bank location as a pickup and drop off area for meals that Interfaith Neighbors could distribute to their clients.

Interfaith Neighbors Today

Today, Interfaith Neighbors is nearly back to full speed. The workforce development program is up and running again at the farm. And while some senior centers are still not open, Interfaith Neighbors is working to find where the gaps are and how to fill them. They have many people who are volunteering and donating to help their neighbors and the community.

The Future

To stay up-to-date with Interfaith Neighbors’ programs and how they are helping our community, visit http://www.interfaithneighbors.org.

2020 was a challenging year, but we are grateful for our partners and community who really stepped up, worked together and helped those in need. Check out some of our incredible partner highlights from last year as well as words from our Chairman and President on what’s to come.

Click the image below to download the Grunin Foundation 2020 Year in Review.

It’s hard to believe we are in the month of November. Time is flying while we continue to try navigating our way through 2020. As we approach Thanksgiving, we are extra focused on gratitude this year. We could not do any of our work without our nonprofit partners, healthcare systems, business leaders and community members.

To our nonprofit partners

YOU are doing the work to create lasting, positive impact for everyone in our community. In spite of the pandemic, you have not missed a beat and even increased your services to ensure those who need them most have access. You have been on the front lines to keep the vulnerable safe, provide meals to those who are food insecure, help the isolated feel connected, give children a safe place to learn and so much more.

To our partners in the healthcare systems

You have worked around the clock, tirelessly to keep our community safe. You have helped so many COVID-19 patients face and overcome their battle. Not only were you there to take care of them medically, you were there FOR them when family members could not visit due to restrictions. You kept the hospitals safe for other patients and your staff. We can’t thank you enough for all of the sacrifices you have made and continue to make to keep our community’s health a top priority.

To our friends in the business community

2020 has been filled with uncertainty. The balance between staying safe and continuing to operate normally has been a challenge to say the least. You have remained positive, creative and continued to help others while trying to make the best of the changing business landscape.

To our Central Jersey Shore Community

You are the reason the Grunin Foundation exists. It is our mission to improve the quality of life for all members of our community by using philanthropy to drive economic excellence at the Central Jersey Shore. We are grateful for your ideas, hard work in our community and for your support.

Each and every one of you is helping our vision come alive – a Central Jersey Shore where people come to visit and stay to live…where businesses and nonprofits work together in a thriving community where everyone has access to an abundance of exemplary arts, culture, education, healthcare and economic opportunities.

Thank you for all you do. We are grateful to work, live and play in such a collaborative, supportive and amazing community.

Wishing you good health, happiness and prosperity as we move into the holiday season and close out 2020. May 2021 be a year of brightness, peace and love.

Jay Grunin Jeremy Grunin

Our friend, Linda Czipo from Center for Non-Profits, has put together information on some government grants and loan applications launching THIS WEEK. Some are first-come, first served. Please see below for more information from Center for Non-Profits on these opportunities and other resources.

Dear Friends,

This is a long but time-sensitive post outlining updated information about COVID-19 resources for non-profits. Some of the government grant and loan applications are launching THIS WEEK, and some applications (like the NJEDA small business emergency grants) are first-come, first served. 

  1. COVID-19 general links:
  1. Government Assistance for Non-Profits & Small Business



Also see NJ Community Capital Garden State Relief Fund (working capital loans for small business and non-profit) 

  1. Relief funds, philanthropic response:
  1. Rapid Response Survey #1 Report

Many thanks to the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers for partnering with us on the survey and to the 700+ organizations that completed it.  We will be conducting follow-up surveys periodically – watch for the next one in the coming days.

The 2020 Census is LIVEhttps://my2020census.gov/  
Want more info about how to promote a complete count for New Jersey? Check the resources at census2020nj.org, coordinated by Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

THANK YOU for everything you are doing to make our communities and state stronger.

We had the opportunity to see the Young Audiences Arts for Learning “Dance to Learn” finale today at Silver Bay Elementary. Each of the second-grade classes danced to a different theme (Ocean, Rain Forest, Safari, Jungle) and acted out elements of the theme using their own artistic interpretation through dance. They were able to show their parents and friends what they have been learning and practicing throughout the school year as part of the ARTS LAB program.

The Grunin Foundation is proud to partner with Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania, Dance To LearnSilver Bay Elementary and the Toms River Regional Schools to bring this incredible program to the students.