Remembering Gerald Stern

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Photograph of Gerald Stern by Mark Hillringhouse.

Poet and photographer Mark Hillringhouse, who took the photograph above of Gerald Stern at home in Lambertville, New Jersey, tells us it was one of Jerry’s favorites of himself. It shows him at the kitchen table, writing in longhand on looseleaf paper with a Bic pen, which was his practice, and laughing at himself over something he’d just written or said.

Poets who write at the kitchen table don’t draw boundaries between their art and domestic life, often from necessity. They learn to write amidst the everyday sounds, smells, dramas and joys of the family table because a desk in a private study is an unhoped-for luxury.  This is quintessential Gerald Stern: Seating himself squarely at the heart of everyday life, working with the same tools he’d probably been using since learning to write as a boy, utterly unpretentious, rooted in practical necessities, always ready to laugh at life and himself, and somehow making something incandescent out of it all, out of everything and anything: potatoes and refrigerators, grackles and squirrels, refinery towers, cars overheating in traffic jams, the azaleas and hydrangeas out the window.

From these mundane materials he forged a unique voice that was at once intimate and vatic, one-part conspiratorial confidante, one-part Biblical prophet. He was a singer of lamentations and an ecstatic; outraged by our capacity for pettiness and meanness and awed by our potential for kindness. He was at once a mourner for the broken-hearted and a celebrant of the joy song can summon in us. To hear him read, as he did during his seven appearances at the Dodge Poetry Festival, is to enter a place where incantation and common speech merge into something new: the poetry of Gerald Stern. He is missed by the past and present members of the Dodge Poetry Program.

–Martin Farawell, Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program Director

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President’s Message: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces More Than $5.4 Million in Grants

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participated in a 230-mile march from New York to the U.S. Supreme Court for arguments in a suit – in which the ACLU, Public Citizen, and NRDC filed in amicus brief – challenging the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA as unlawful. (November 12, 2019) (Credit: ACLU/Michelle Frankfurter, courtesy of ACLU-NJ))

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces More Than $5.4 Million in Grants.

See grants listed on our website.

In our most recent funding rounds, the Dodge Foundation made more than $5.4 million in grants to nonprofit organizations supporting the arts, education, environment, informed communities, sector capacity building, and new Imagine a New Way and Momentum Fund grantees.

In our Imagine a New Way and Momentum Fund grantmaking, we have been investing in and taking guidance from networks, movements, organizations, and leaders who are closest to the harms of injustice; who have been historically excluded from investment and opportunity; and who are working to address the root cause and repair of structural racism and inequity in their work.  

These grantee partners lead organizations and initiatives that strategically build power; dismantle systems of injustice; and strengthen economic resilience through narrative change, movement building and organizing, policy advocacy, and sector capacity building.

$150,000 – New Jersey Institute for Social Justice to continue its work, in collaboration with the most-impacted communities of color in New Jersey, to advocate for systemic reform that is transformative, achievable in the state, replicable in communities across the nation, and focused on strategic solutions that create wealth, transform justice, and harness democratic power.

$185,000 – Salvation and Social Justice – $110,000 to support the School Integration  Project: Breaking Down the Barriers Communications Campaign, a community engagement and education effort to organize grassroots support for diversifying New Jersey’s segregated schools; and $75,000 for general operating support for the organization’s overall work to lift-up poor, underserved, and traditionally oppressed communities by building strong coalitions committed to abolition, restoration, and transformation.

$100,000 – Mayors for Guaranteed Income to invest in narrative change efforts that advance equity-focused policy change and the lived experiences of people experiencing economic insecurity in New Jersey. This grant is fiscally sponsored by Reinvent Stockton, based in Stockton, CA, on the first guaranteed income sites. This grant is in addition to our two-year grant of $200,000 to the Newark Movement for Economic Equity announced in June 2021

$100,000 – New Jersey Policy Perspective to advance economic, social, and racial equity through evidence-based, independent research, analysis, and strategic communications.

$100,000 – Rising Tide Capital to support individuals in historically marginalized communities to start and grow successful businesses; to build communities through collaborations with other non-profits, higher education institutions, corporations, and public agencies; and to create a scalable program model with measurable impact that can be replicated in communities of need in New Jersey and across the U.S.

$100,000 – ACLU of New Jersey to defend and advance New Jerseyan’s rights to equal treatment, fairness, privacy, freedom of speech, and religion through advocacy, community organizing, and education campaigns.

$100,000 – Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC)  to support the Environmental Justice Team to work with residents in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood and partners across the city, state, and country to address the root causes of poor air quality, flooding from CSOs (combined sewer overflows), vulnerability to climate change, toxic site clean-up, and to promote renewable, non-fossil fuel energy.

$50,000 – New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice to ensure that New Jersey’s immigrant communities are leaders in developing policies that impact their lives and the lives of all New Jersey residents.

$50,000 – The Fund for New Jersey to support the “Imagine More: Racial Justice Begins With Us” series of virtual learning sessions framing New Jersey’s critical racial justice issues and highlighting substantive policy and practice remedies for reparations. 

$25,000 – Faith in New Jersey to support its multi-faith and multi-racial network that develops grassroots community leaders and analyzes policies to root out structural racism in our state’s largest systems, along with studying and working for just policies and practices in economics and finance, policing, and law, immigration, and violence prevention.

$25,000 – Fair Share Housing Center to advance the organization’s work to end discriminatory or exclusionary housing patterns, policies, and practices that have prevented low- and moderate-income families from accessing affordable housing and building wealth. The organization was also a leader in coalitions advocating for housing eviction protection and utility assistance to individuals and families financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

$25,000 – Atlantic City Community Fund to build out and support a community-driven-and-centered funding mechanism for Atlantic City, which has a long history of racial inequity and markedly less philanthropic support than other parts of New Jersey.

$25,000 – Borealis Philanthropy Racial Equity in Journalism Fund to invest in news organizations led by and for people of color to increase civic engagement in communities of color by reaching them with information on issues relevant to their rights, health, and well-being.   

$25,000 – Neighborhood Funders Group’s Amplify Fund to support this donor collaborative that brings together local, regional, and national funders to advance equitable development impacting Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low-income communities and to share best practices and lessons learned for philanthropy’s role in promoting equitable development centered on racial justice.

$500,000 to Momentum Fund Grantees –  First shared in January 2022, as part of our new community-based Momentum Fund, we made the first installment of three-year unrestricted funding to ten emerging organizations that were nominated and selected by social justice practitioners, stakeholders, and leaders in New Jersey. The Momentum Fund engages with organizations working in service to under-invested communities in New Jersey that are most directly impacted by structural barriers to equity—namely communities of color.  Momentum Fund cohort members are leading some of the most vital, strategic, and creative efforts to address the longstanding impact of structural racism and inequities throughout New Jersey.  The cohort is briefly described below.

Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas – CATA   

CATA facilitates the leadership development of the farmworker and immigrant communities as they strive for better working and living conditions. They use community engagement and capacity building, so workers are prepared to lead their own advocacy and organizing campaigns for justice. 

Education & Training Institute, Inc (New Labor)            

ETI brings immigrant workers divided by industry and sectioned off to work in different cities across the state by temporary agencies together to share stories, build collective, and fight for industry and state-wide changes in all the places where the powers that be would prefer to remain silent.  

IDEA Institute for the Development of the Arts             

IDEA aims to transform arts-based learning and workforce development by providing an innovative, end-to-end experience that includes creative learning; workforce development skills for the Creative Economy; and a Creative Co-operative that provides workspace for entrepreneurs.  This new approach to creative learning and its lifetime effects will help the impoverished youth of Southern New Jersey lift themselves and their families out of poverty with the attainment of well-paying careers. 

New Jersey Resource Project    

The New Jersey Resource Project’s mission is to educate and connect community leaders to work together for solutions and take action toward an economically just and resilient future. They work with those directly impacted, people who have critical expertise.  They are based primarily in South and Central New Jersey.   

Newark Community Street Team          

Newark Community Street Team (NCST) is a resident-run organization whose mission is to reduce violence in the South Ward of Newark through a community-based strategy that does not rely on arrest and incarceration. NCST treats community violence as a public health issue by intervening in, preventing, and treating violence. 

Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc.            

Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc., works to eradicate the normalcy of food deserts in historically underserved and underrepresented communities while building pathways to green jobs. Our motto, “Think Global, Act Local, that’s Glocal,” drives the development of equitable programming here in NJ and the Dominican Republic. 

Palestinian American Community Center 

The Palestinian American Community Center (PACC) is a non-political and non-religious non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen and sustain ties to Palestinian heritage while empowering the well-being and success of the entire community. To achieve this, PACC provides social, cultural, educational, athletic, and recreational activities around the five main focus areas: 1. Educating about Palestine, 2. Empowering the Community, 3. Civically Engaging with the larger community, 4. Referring people to community resources, 5. Socially Serving the community when needed. 

South Ward Environmental Alliance     

The South Ward Environmental Alliance (SWEA) is a grassroots environmental justice organization with a goal to reduce air pollution and protect the health of residents in the Clinton Hill, Dayton Street, and Weequahic neighborhoods of the South Ward. SWEA’s motto is One Ward United for Environmental Justice. 

The HUBB Arts & Trauma Center          

The HUBB uses therapeutic arts and entertainment as a key outreach and engagement strategy to reach youth and support families. Our current facility includes cutting-edge technology, including a state-of-the-art recording studio, video production room, podcast radio station, and computer work areas, as well as group meeting spaces to support deep creativity and therapeutic and restorative groupwork (called “Circles”). 


VietLead is a strong grassroots community organization based in Camden and Philadelphia, that is creating a vision and strategy for community self-determination, social justice, and cultural resilience. VietLead has been deeply embedded in Camden County organizing Southeast Asian, Black, and Brown youth and community for six years through their urban agriculture, youth leadership, civic engagement, community defense, and health and healing programs. 

The Foundation also made grants to the following organizations:

$60,000 – Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to support the organization during a critical leadership transition due to the unexpected passing of founder Nai-Ni Chen in 2021.

$40,000 – Roxey Ballet to support the organization to rebuild and maintain general operations after the complete and total loss of their rehearsal space and black box theater during Hurricane Ida in September 2021.

$25,000 – Greenlight Fund Greater Newark to support Greenlight’s work toremove barriers to inclusive prosperity by launching and scaling proven solutions that address community-identified needs in Newark.

$25,000 – ABFE – A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities to celebrate and support ABFE’s 50th Anniversary Campaign as well as its longstanding advocacy, knowledge, training, technical assistance, networking and convening, and its professional and leadership development programs to strengthen Black-led infrastructure for social change. 

$50,000 – Center for Non-Profits for general operating support and additional support for CNP’s new Non-Profit Principles and Practices Initiative to develop a New Jersey-based framework and tools for governance, compliance, and accountability.

$125,000 – Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective (Rutgers University Institute for Ethical Leadership) to support programming for the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective (NPPOC), which provides a space for nonprofit professionals of color to engage with a supportive community for growth, professional development, and meaningful peer relationships.

The Dodge Foundation is committed to shifting power and resources to communities most impacted by structural racism and inequity and most excluded from investment and opportunity.  We are an organization in transformation – learning as we go and practicing new ways of being. We will continue to work in service toward a just and equitable New Jersey – a New Jersey where people of all races and communities have equal access to opportunities and are able to thrive and realize their full potential on their own terms.

We look forward to sharing more with you as we continue along our path of learning and transformation.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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President’s Message: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces the Inaugural Cohort of its New Momentum Fund

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
“An Invitation” Copyright 2022 by Favianna Rodriguez,
represents, three people building relationships with each other and
collaborating to transform their future. Each figure is focused on a
separate, yet complementary pathway towards a shared goal.

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Announces the Inaugural Cohort of its New Momentum Fund:

$1.5. million in multi-year funding for 10 emerging organizations employing innovative strategies to address root causes of structural racism in New Jersey, nominated and selected in a new community-engaged process.

Over the last two years, the dual crises of racial injustice and the ongoing global pandemic have accelerated the Dodge Foundation’s imperative to Imagine a New Way by transforming our philanthropic approach and our work. In 2021, we sharpened our focus on a just and equitable New Jersey by prioritizing efforts that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequities in our state.

Living into our commitment to learn and to practice new ways of working and connecting in new spaces, the Dodge Foundation launched the Momentum Fund in Fall 2021.  The Momentum Fund engages with organizations that are working in service to under-invested communities in New Jersey that are most directly impacted by structural barriers to equity—namely communities of color.   Social justice practitioners, stakeholders, and leaders in New Jersey nominated and selected the cohort.

The Momentum Fund provides new opportunities for funding to organizations – many of which have not had access to institutional philanthropic support until now.  Each of the ten organizations will receive unrestricted funding of $150,000 over three years along with other capacity-building support.  We believe that this runway of flexible funding will offer these organizations the time, space, and ability to explore new approaches and more freedom to self-determine the best course forward in their work. Participation in the Momentum Fund is also a chance for groups to learn from each other, strengthen their capacities, reimagine systems, and build dynamic networks.

Introducing the Inaugural Momentum Fund Cohort

Today, we are pleased to introduce you to the inaugural Momentum Fund cohort.

From fighting for food justice, workplace safety and immigrant rights to offering programming in the arts, health and wellness and environmental justice, Momentum Fund cohort members are leading some of the most vital, strategic, and creative efforts to address the longstanding impact of structural racism and inequities throughout New Jersey. They include:

CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee – focused on organizing and empowering the immigrant community as they fight for justice for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The H.U.B.B. Arts & Trauma Center – increasing opportunities for success by providing healing programs, services, and events for underserved youth and their families that entertain, educate, and empower.

IDEA Center for the Arts – building more socially resourceful and vibrant communities by strengthening the human potential through creativity, culture, and arts-based learning.

New Labor – amplifying workers voices and fighting for social justice in New Jersey.

Newark Community Street Team – resolving relationship-based disputes toward a peaceful outcome by coordinating with city agencies, service providers, and policy organizations to improve the quality of life of Newark citizens.

New Jersey Resource Project  – educating and connecting community leaders to work together for solutions and take action toward an economically just and resilient future, founded by Superstorm Sandy survivors.

Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. – implementing initiatives to increase awareness of environmental, ecological, and wellness issues through educational programs and hands-on activities, such as community gardens and urban farms.

Palestinian American Community Center – sustaining and strengthening ties to Palestinian heritage while empowering success and well-being of the entire community.

South Ward Environmental Alliance – cultivating healthy and vibrant neighborhoods by ensuring residents’ voices are heard, and they are active participants in decision making policies that impact their neighborhood.

VietLead – developing leadership in the Vietnamese community in solidarity with other communities of color towards improving health, increasing self-determination, and strengthening political power of our community.

Community Panel

We are grateful to our panel of community leaders who dedicated their time and expertise to select the inaugural Momentum Fund cohort. They include:

Reverend Dr. Charles F. Boyer

Founding Director, Salvation and Social Justice

Chenjerai Kumanyika

Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University

Maria Lopez-Nunez

Director of Environmental Justice and Community Development, Ironbound Community Corporation

Hawwa Muhammad

Founder & CEO, Pink Trumpet

Kareem Willis

Social Justice Scholar-Practitioner

Living a New Way

The Momentum Fund is one example of our desire to do things differently and is a pivotal opportunity for the Dodge Foundation to explore new ways of:

  • adapting our grantmaking practices to better leverage community leadership and input in funding decisions; and
  • resourcing the power, leadership, and solutions of those most impacted by racial injustice and inequity.

We are proud to be one of the growing number of philanthropies investing in communities that have long been denied access to philanthropic decision-making and dollars. As we step into these new ways of working, we hope others will join us in this work.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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Poetry Fridays: Wishing You Moments of Peace

Posted on by Dodge Poetry

Marie Howe’s “Part of Eve’s Discussion” captures a moment when the world changes irreversibly. We have felt somewhat suspended in such a moment for nearly two years now, and still can’t predict how the world will be changed as we go forward. Yet Howe’s poem, like poetry itself, reminds us to be more attentive to the moments we have. Her second poem, “The Moment,” wishes us respite from the worries and fears that whir, sometimes it seems unceasingly, around and within us. 

As we pass the longest night of the year, move through a season of feasts and celebration, and welcome a new year, we at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program wish you all such a moment of peace, and then another and another, today and every day of the year ahead.  

Happy Holidays, 

Martin, Ysabel, Victoria, Wendy, David and Clarise 

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President’s Message | Stronger Together: Dodge Foundation Investing $2.8M in New Jersey’s Recovery and Resiliency

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
Imagine a New Way. Illustration by Layqa Nuna Yawar

As I have previously written in Our Path Toward a Just and Equitable New Jersey, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation seeks to address the needs of all New Jersey communities while addressing longstanding inequalities of economic, social, and political opportunity that hold us back as a state.  That approach is especially important now, as New Jerseyans face multiple challenges of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a continuing reckoning with racial injustice.  

The past two years have taught us that repairing unjust systems will require well-resourced backing from all of us. Coalition building that mobilizes the power of many toward sustained action has never been more important.  That is why I am pleased to announce a set of Crisis Response Grants and Mission Investments that, together, advance those interrelated goals.  Consistent with our approach, these efforts address short-term needs while supporting longer-term strategies to build power in underserved communities and to seek transformative change. 

$200,000 | New Jersey Ida Just Recovery Fund – To support a new fund formed and led by a coalition of eight frontline organizations working in immigrant, low-income, and communities of color in New Jersey. These lead organizations are collaborating to determine the parameters of assistance, building organizing power, and supporting equitable short-term and medium to long-term recovery efforts. 

$200,000 | ReNew Jersey Fund – Modeled on the successful New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF), two new funds under the banner ReNew Jersey will help residents recover and build resiliency as they face new crises. The funds will support communities recovering from the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Ida and will aid Afghan refugees as they seek safe harbor and rebuild their lives in New Jersey over an extended period of time. 

$200,000 | South Jersey COVID-19 Relief Fund –  To continue to support the long-term, evolving needs of South Jersey residents as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.  

$100,000 |  ALICE Recovery Fund – To support training and services, including a pilot community network of quality center-based and home-based child-care, and advocacy for racial and economic equity for ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families.

$100,000 | New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund – To continue to support artists and arts organizations as they work to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. This work is part of an ongoing effort to restore arts and culture to our state’s communities.

$100,000 | Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief and Recovery Fund – To continue to support COVID recovery needs for those most impacted in the Trenton area.

$100,000 | United Way of Greater Newark Community COVID-19 Fund – To continue to support UWGN’s community partnerships to meet the greatest needs of residents, social service providers, and the public health sector in pandemic recovery.

We feel privileged to be able to provide additional support at this critical time.  At the end of last year, in “Lessons Learned for the Year Ahead,” we shared ways in which we have been aligning our endowment with our mission, vision, and values as we bring all of our resources to bear to make the greatest positive impact.  As part of this commitment, we have just launched a new $5 million Program Investment Pilot, which enables us to invest in important community development initiatives to create social impact beyond grants.  Dodge Foundation Trustees approved the following initial pilot investment projects:

$300,000 Equity Investment |Enrich Scholars, a for-profit start-up that provides job readiness, resume building, interview preparation, and job placement services for college students of color. All services are provided at no cost to the students.

$500,000 Loan |Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for the nascent Affordable Housing Ecosystem Building Fund (AHEB). Under this program, LISC-Greater Newark will deploy capital to housing developers and development projects in New Jersey with a focus on Newark, Jersey City, Irvington, East Orange, and Orange to produce or preserve affordable housing. 

$1,000,000 Loan | New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) for lending and investing through its Community Loan Fund of New Jersey.  NJCC is the largest Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in New Jersey providing financing to sectors including building and preserving affordable housing, charter schools, childcare centers, and small businesses in underserved areas of New Jersey.

We will continue to listen and learn from the voices of our state’s diverse communities as we determine ways for the Foundation to respond to and support emergent needs in our state.  We are grateful for the leadership and collaboration across New Jersey to deploy coordinated resources to community partners. I also want to thank our grantees, Board and Staff for helping to inform our response on the path to greater equity and justice for New Jersey’s communities.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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“It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.”

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Photo by Kristin Reimer

The Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey (home of the Dodge Poetry Festival), is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country. Maria Lopez-Nuñez, a Honduran-American resident there, is waging a war for environmental justice. She is part of the Ironbound Community Corporation, one of the most effective environmental justice organizations in the country. The Sacrifice Zone is a 35-minute documentary that follows Maria as she leads a group of environmental justice fighters determined to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds for our consumer society.

Join Dodge Poetry on Thursday, July 22 at 7 p.m. EST for a free virtual event: a screening of The Sacrifice Zone, followed by poetry and discussion about environmental justice featuring poets Camille T. Dungy and Marina Carreira, environmental activists Maria Lopez-Nuñez and Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, and filmmaker Julie Winokur.

This event is one of a series of programs presented nationally by member organizations of the Poetry Coalition. This year’s theme for Poetry Coalition programming is Poetry and Environmental Justice, represented by the lines: “It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.” (From the poem “Map” by Linda Hogan.)

Register here to join us for The Sacrifice Zone: A Film Screening Followed by Poetry & Conversation about Environmental Justice.

Meet the presenters:

MARINA CARREIRA (she/her/hers) is a queer Luso-American poet artist from Newark, NJ. She is the author of tantotanto (Cavankerry Press, forthcoming 2022), Save the Bathwater (Get Fresh Books, 2018) and I Sing to That Bird Knowing It Won’t Sing Back (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She has exhibited her art at Morris Museum, ArtFront Galleries, West Orange Arts Council, Monmouth University Center for the Arts, among others. Her work investigates identity as it relates to gender, urban, queer, and bicultural first-generation spaces. Keep up with her at

CAMILLE T. DUNGY is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations. Dungy’s poems have been published in Best American PoetryThe 100 Best African American Poems, the Pushcart AnthologyBest American Travel Writing, and over thirty other anthologies. She is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.

MARIA LOPEZ-NUÑEZ works for the Ironbound Community Corporation. She is an environmental justice organizer and plays a large role in activating and uplifting her community while also pushing for policies to address environmental injustice locally, regionally, and nationally. She is on the board of the Climate Justice Alliance and serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

A life-long learner and advocate, DR. JALONNE WHITE-NEWSOME founded Empowering a Green Environment and Economy, LLC, a strategic consulting firm, with the mission of transforming communities through the development of people-centered solutions.  She serves a diverse set of clients with forward-thinking and intersectional approaches to tackle issues such as climate change, public health, environmental injustice, and advancing racial equity.  Jalonne has multi-sector experience having worked in environmental philanthropy, state government, non-profit, grassroots, academia and private industry.  Most notably, she created and implemented the transformational Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) Initiative at the Kresge Foundation as a Senior Program Officer; she was the first Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s federal policy office in Washington, DC;  and, her doctoral research illuminated the impact of climate change & extreme heat on the low-income, elderly in Detroit, and is still referenced to drive public health interventions.  She is a Lecturer at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the proud mom of Arielle and Jeannelyn.

JULIE WINOKUR is the Director of The Sacrifice Zone and Executive Director of Talking Eyes Media, a nonprofit company that produces compelling media that advocates for positive social change. The Sacrifice Zone emerged from a multimedia storytelling project called Newest Americans that for the past six years has been examining immigration and identity in Newark, N.J. Winokur’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Time, National Geographic and The Atlantic.

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Announcing $4.3 million in grants

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Edward Belton III, left, and Ray Johnston perform at University of Orange’s Enciende El Amor Festival in October. The event was a socially distanced, in-person music festival to forge partnerships between local musicians and restauratns to host live music in outdoor public spaces. Photo Courtesy University of Orange / Amonnie Nicolas @artoftyler

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees met virtually this June and approved $4.3 million in grants to nonprofit organizations focused on the Arts, Education, Informed Communities, and Technical Assistance, as well as new Imagine a New Way grants that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequity in New Jersey.  

“All that we have learned since embarking on our racial equity journey and through the pandemic is affirming the Dodge Foundation’s path toward a more just and equitable New Jersey, said Tanuja M. Dehne, Dodge Foundation President & CEO. “We are humbled and inspired by the networks, movements, and organizations which continue to meet community needs and build power so that our systems provide opportunities for people of all races and communities to thrive.”

Aligned with the Foundation’s refined strategic focus, Dodge approved $350,000 in new Imagine a New Way grants to four organizations and projects that are using strategic tools to tackle barriers to a just and equitable New Jersey.  

These include: 

  • $200,000 over two years to the Newark Movement for Economic Equity, the City of Newark’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program. Launched in April 2021, the two-year pilot program provides unconditional cash to select Newark residents as a means to combat poverty and reduce the racial income gap. 
  • $100,000 to The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, to strengthen American education and to rebuild a flourishing civil society. Citizens & Scholars launched the Civic Spring Project to support youth-centered projects in New Jersey by Groundwork Elizabeth and Newark Youth One Stop and Career Center that addressed pandemic-related challenges facing communities, and that promoted local civic engagement during the 2020 general election. 
  • $25,000 to Make the Road New Jersey, a community-based organization which builds the power of immigrant, working-class, and Latinx communities to achieve dignity and respect through community organizing, legal, policy innovation, and transformative education. 
  • $25,000 to Wind of the Spirit, an inter-faith-based organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes immigrant communities and allies. Their work is centered in community needs and drives towards just and humane migration policies, human rights and dignity for all people, along with promoting solidarity and a world of justice and peace.  

For more on Dodge’s Imagine a New Way transformation, read the latest President’s Message.  

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Announcing three new Dodge Trustees

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We are excited to welcome three new members of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees. Barbara Bell Coleman, Rob Connor, and Mark Grier each bring new perspectives and experiences to the Foundation’s vision for a just and equitable New Jersey.  

“As part of the Dodge Foundation’s Imagine a New Way transformation toward racial equity and justice, we are committed to transforming who we are and how we work, as well as our programming,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s President & CEO. “This year has seen the Foundation add experienced, new leadership to the Foundation’s staff and now we are also adding three new trustees, each who are well-known leaders committed to our state and who brings diverse skills and experiences to help fulfill our mission.” 

The new trustees began their four-year terms at the Board’s meeting on June 10.  

Barbara, of Livingston, is President of BBC Associates and an advocate for disenfranchised people, especially children. Barbara’s experience in the social and public health sectors include stints as president of Amelior Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, and she oversaw alcohol and drug abuse prevention services at the New Jersey State Department of Health. She is currently the Board Chair of the Schumann Fund of New Jersey and a co-founder and executive board member of the Branch Brook Park Alliance. She has served on nonprofit and corporate boards, including New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. 

Rob, of Trenton, is the co-founding Head of School at Christina Seix Academy, an innovative pre-K to 8 independent school serving the needs of underserved communities. The Academy’s mission is designed to wrap families in a web of services to ensure that every child succeeds and enjoys stability, voice, and opportunity. Prior to Christina Seix Academy, Rob’s doctoral research focused on topics related to African American student achievement, the retention and recruitment of teachers of color, and urban education. He is currently a visiting professor of education at Wesleyan University and a board member of The Watershed Institute and New Jersey Tennis League of Trenton.  

Mark, of Far Hills, is a veteran of the financial services industry and led Prudential Financial’s public offering in 2001. Mark was Vice Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors of Prudential Financial until his retirement in 2019. Before joining Prudential in 1995 as Chief Financial Officer, he was an executive with The Chase Manhattan Bank and Lincoln First Bank. He is Board Chairman of the Global Impact Investing Network and a member of the Board of Directors at Freddie Mac, where he served until recently as Interim CEO.  

The three new members join Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Dan Fatton, and Eleanor Horne as Dodge trustees in their first terms.  

“We are thrilled with the addition of the new board members,” said Preston Pinkett III, Board Chair. “Dodge’s Board of Trustees is committed to our vision of a just and equitable New Jersey by supporting efforts that address root causes of structural racism and inequity.”  

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President’s Message: Our path toward a just and equitable New Jersey

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne
Equitable Futures for New Jersey. Illustration by Layqa Nuna Yawar

Since 1974, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has fostered opportunity, creative voice, and a healthy environment to help New Jerseyans live quality lives. We are exceedingly proud of that work which has helped to build more vibrant communities across our richly diverse state.

Despite these investments, systemic racial bias has affected many communities’ ability to thrive. As the third wealthiest state in the country, New Jersey is alive with opportunity. Yet, we also know that access to these opportunities and benefits is not equitable.

New Jersey has the largest racial wealth gap in the United States, impacting the ability of communities of color in New Jersey to own homes or access quality education and health care. Racial biases lead to Black and Latinx people experiencing unfair treatment and violence in our justice and policing systems with disproportionate frequency. Lower levels of access to positions of leadership within our state and local government result in less political power to ensure that issues affecting communities of color get adequate resources or attention. These long-standing inequities have only served to exacerbate wealth and opportunity gaps in New Jersey.

Research and experience make clear that New Jersey cannot achieve its full potential without directly addressing systemic racism and actively supporting efforts to create more just and equitable policies, systems, and practices in our state.  

With that goal in mind, the Dodge Foundation set a course five years ago to create a more equitable New Jersey. Our resolve was only strengthened by the devastating pandemic and our national reckoning on racism this past year. We are now applying our learning and experience to transform our grantmaking, partnerships, internal operations, and how we deploy our resources. We refer to our transformation as Imagine A New Way because we are:

  1. Imagining New Ways to center our work with intentionality and action toward racial equity and justice, and
  2. Imagining New Ways to operate as a philanthropic institution that is more just, regenerative, and that shifts more power and economic control to communities.

We seek a just and equitable New Jersey where people of all races and communities have equal access to opportunities and are able to thrive and achieve their full potential. As we look forward, we will direct our time, energy, and resources toward efforts that address root causes and repair of structural racism and inequity in New Jersey. In our grantmaking, we will prioritize networks, movements, organizations, and leaders closest to the harms of inequities and who have been historically excluded from investment and opportunity. We believe this approach will bring critical perspectives, strategies, and solutions that are informed by the lived experiences of communities of color, positioning them to influence decisions about the places where they live and work.

In 2021, we are supporting organizations or projects that use strategic tools to tackle barriers to a just and equitable New Jersey. These organizations are driven by local community needs while collaborating within a larger ecosystem in which each organization plays a key role in developing solutions for New Jersey’s most intractable problems. We are eager to help amplify their collective efforts.

Recent examples of our new grantmaking priorities in action include operating support to New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and Salvation and Social Justice. Building on earlier investments to support an accurate census count, Dodge also invested in the Fair Redistricting in New Jersey Fund, led by the Fund for New Jersey, to support public engagement, transparency, and community representation in the state’s redistricting processes.

Through advocacy, policy change, movement building, and cultural organizing, these organizations are making measurable progress to increase the power and voice of New Jersey’s communities of color. Going forward, we will continue to seek strategic partners whose work focuses on advocacy, policy change, building economic, political, and cultural power, and repairing unjust systems.  

We will also continue to develop our organization and learn from those who have the greatest proximity to issues and solutions. As we do, it is our goal to share new grant guidelines that are more open, along with simplified application and reporting processes that will help us to explore new partnerships in 2022 and beyond.

It is our privilege to steward the resources and relationships of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and we seek to do so with great humility, transparency, and mutual learning. As we evolve, we will continue to build upon our commitment to equity to help New Jerseyans, regardless of race, class, or neighborhood to thrive.

Tanuja M. Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.

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Dodge’s Imagine A New Way transformation launches with new grants

Posted on by Dodge

Trustees approve $2.8M toward an equitable and just New Jersey

The Center for Environmental Transformation’s youth program participants and the market manager sell produce in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden.
Photo courtesy The Center for Environmental Transformation

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees met virtually this March and approved more than $2.8 million in grants toward an equitable and just New Jersey. The grants include more than $350,000 in new Imagine a New Way grants, representing Dodge’s latest step towards our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization and centering racial equity and justice in our work. 

“Weeks after the Atlanta attack marked a turning point in the rise of anti-Asian hate and violence, the latest in our country’s history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gendered violence, it is more clear than ever that we cannot return to the way things were,” said Tanuja M. Dehne, Dodge Foundation President & CEO. “Dodge’s Imagine a New Way transformation has begun to change what we do and how we do it to achieve our vision of an equitable and just New Jersey so that New Jerseyans of all races and communities have what is needed to realize a quality life.”

With a focus on racial equity and justice and putting trust-based philanthropy values into action, Dodge made $350,000 in Imagine a New Way grants to five organizations and projects that are using strategic tools to tackle barriers and finding solutions to New Jersey’s most intractable problems. These include:

  • $100,000 to the Fair Redistricting in New Jersey Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation to support public engagement, transparency, and community representation in the state’s redistricting processes.
  • $25,000 to New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, a statewide membership-based coalition which uses the power and strength of its member organizations to ensure that New Jersey’s immigrant communities are leaders in the development of policies that impact their lives and the lives of all New Jersey residents.
  • $100,000 to New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, a leader in the advocacy field in New Jersey. The Institute’s cutting-edge work is focused on providing policy solutions that empower people of color by building systems that create wealth, transform justice, and harness democratic power from the ground up in New Jersey.
  • $100,000 to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan think-tank whose research drives policy change that advances economic, social, and racial justice throughout New Jersey.
  • $25,000 to Salvation and Social Justice, a grassroots community organizing network for social and racial justice in New Jersey that engages the Black Faith-rooted community across the state.

“These organizations are all driven by local community needs and have created deep relationships with one another,” said Marianna Schaffer, Dodge’s Vice President of Programs. “We are eager to support and amplify the collective effort of these organizations.”

After awarding more than $2.6 million in pandemic response grants in 2020, Dodge Trustees approved in March a $200,000 grant to the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund, which provides critical financial support for arts and culture organizations and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The Fund, housed at the Princeton Area Community Foundation, has awarded $2.6 million in grants, about half of the $4.2 million raised to date. 

Dodge also made two new grants to the Community Foundation of New Jersey for park improvement projects in New Jersey. A $50,000 project support grant to the Boonton Reservoir Enhancement and Access Project enables Open Space Institute to conduct engineering, geotechnical, archaeological, and environmental assessments, and continued stakeholder engagement in adjacent neighborhoods and Jersey City. A $50,000 project support grant to the Branch Brook Park Alliance Fund enables the installation of a wi-fi network and provides ongoing support for the park’s annual upkeep.

In addition, Dodge awarded more than $2.2 million in grants, including 29 totaling $932,750 in Arts, 20 totaling $1,205,000 in Environment, and grants totaling $90,000 in Technical Assistance and other areas. 

Posted in COVID19, equity, News & Announcements, Philanthropy | 1 Comment

Submissions Open for DPF2022

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Poets (left to right) Joy Ladin, Paul Tran and Natalie Scenters-Zapico at the 2018 Dodge Poetry Festival. Photo by Alex Towle.

It feels like just yesterday that we wrapped up the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival (which ran from October 22 – November 1 this past fall), but it’s been a few months now, and it’s time to start thinking about 2022!

We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting submissions for the next Dodge Poetry Festival, which will take place in the fall of 2022.

If you’re interested in submitting to read at the Festival, check out our Submission Guidelines and Submission FAQ pages for detailed instructions and information and to find a link to the submission form. Here are some additional helpful tips:

  1. Audio and/or video clips are really important
    One component of a complete submission is 1-3 audio or video recordings of you reading your poems aloud. Don’t worry–we’re not demanding professional-quality recordings. Since we are curating a live event, it is important for the review panel to have a chance to see and hear you reading your work.

    As you know, experiencing poetry out loud is very different from reading it on the page. A poem can take on a whole new layer of meaning and energy from the poet delivering it. There’s nothing like seeing and hearing how a poet connects and engages with their audience in-person. If you have a video or audio of you reading in front of a live audience, that would be ideal.

    We don’t expect every poet to be a performance poet. Over the years, Festival Poets have had many different reading styles. One thing they have in common is being attentive, engaging and connecting to audience and other poets.
  2. Show us a work sample that best represents you
    We ask for a sample of up to 20 pages of your poetry that best represents you and your work as you would like to share it at the Festival. If you have work published, such as books or a chapbook, why do we ask for this sample?

    You may have published work that you’re proud of and want us to see, but have other poems you’ve learned are more effective with a live audience. The reading sample is an opportunity to not only share some of the work you’re most excited about and proud of, but also the poems you would like to read aloud to an audience that will likely include many who have never heard you read before. (We understand that what you are excited to read may change by 2022, so you’re not beholden to these poems.)

    This sample also provides an opportunity for poets who do not have a published book or chapbook to show their work and put their best foot forward, alongside the audio or video materials.
  3. Take your time with the short responses
    Instead of asking for a formal cover letter and resume, we decided to simplify things a bit and ask you a few specific questions to help us get to know you.

    It’s a good idea to take some time and be thoughtful with your responses to these questions to help paint a picture of who you are, what’s important to you, what you want to bring to the Festival, the types of conversations you would want to have there, and how you would connect with other poets, students, teachers and poetry-lovers.

    Reading poems aloud is just one aspect of the Festival–participating in rich conversations across many different boundaries of identity, and connecting with others through poetry and conversation, are at the heart of the Dodge Poetry Festival. Your responses to these questions help to show how you would want to show up, connect and engage at the Festival, as well as what would make you feel most connected and included there.

These are just a few things to consider when putting together your submission materials. Please review the Submission Guidelines and FAQs before submitting to make sure you have all of the necessary materials–and be sure to submit by the deadline of October 15, 2021.

Thank you so much for your support and interest in the Dodge Poetry Festival! Feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested in submitting to read at the next Festival.

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Poetry for Valentine’s Day

Posted on by Dodge Poetry
Photo from 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival session, Hold My Hand: On Intimacy and Poetry with Natalie Diaz, Ada Limón. Moderated by Ysabel Y. González

Valentine’s Day is a special time for poetry–a day when many people turn to poets for help expressing their love to someone special.

Of course, romantic love doesn’t have a monopoly on great poetry. Poets can help us find words to express our affection and appreciation for friends, family, animals, the natural world and ourselves.

If you want inspiration for your greeting cards, or are simply looking to infuse your day with a little more love, here are a few 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival sessions you might want to check out this weekend. Simply visit, click “View Passes” and pay what you can to access all of the Festival videos.

HOLD MY HAND: ON INTIMACY AND POETRY with Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón, moderated by Ysabel Y. González (Aired on Saturday, October 24)

Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón discuss their collaborative project, Envelopes of Air. They talk about their friendship and the ways in which intimacy, landscape, and bodyscape show up in their poems. And they explore the role poets play in cultivating intimacy and breaking down walls—with other writers, with readers, and within their own communities. Moderated by Ysabel Y. González

THE BELOVED, a poetry and song collaboration with poet Gregory Orr and alt-folk group Parkington Sisters (Aired on Saturday, October 31)

…because of the beloved, I come into being
under her touch, all of me shudders

from The Beloved by Gregory Orr

We can’t go to concerts in person, but we can curl up at home for an intimate and moving performance by Gregory Orr and the Parkington Sisters.

Gregory Orr and the Parkington Sisters perform “The Beloved” poetry and song cycle at the 2018 Dodge Poetry Festival

FESTIVAL POET READING featuring Zeina Hashem Beck, Kai Coggin, Jessica Jacobs, John Murillo, Ladan Osman, Emily Skaja (Aired on Saturday, October 31)

In this series of readings by several poets at the 2020 Festival, you’ll hear poems that speak to different types of love:

Zeina Hashem Beck‘s poems touch upon love of place and language, as well as love for her husband. In “Fools Rush In,” she shares snapshots of young love from their school days:

“Oh days of mixed tapes,
Oh copy books of scribbled songs
Oh years of love notes smuggled under classroom tables”

from “Fools rush in” by zeina hashem beck

Kai Coggin‘s “Constant Before Picture” speaks to learning self-love, and Jessica Jacobs‘ poetry from Take Me With You Wherever You’re Going, explores the complexities of love and long-term commitment, including an ode to her wife’s hair.

Check out these sessions and many more at

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Honoring Black History Month with Poetry

Posted on by Dodge Poetry

Black poets have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of American poetry. In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing a list of just some of the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival videos to revisit or watch for the first time this February, including sessions curated by Cave Canem and the Academy of American Poets.  

Visit to register and gain access to all of the Festival session videos by paying what you can. Educators and students register for free.  

Once registered, you can find all the Festival readings and conversations organized by the day they aired.  (We’re working on an even more user-friendly website with more search features. Stay tuned!) 

A screenshot from the DPF2020 session “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” presented by Cave Canem and featuring poets Yona Harvey, Cherene Sherrard and Kush Thompson.

2020 Dodge Poetry Festival Sessions to watch during Black History Month (and every other month of the year)

THE SKIN YOU’RE LIVING IN: Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson. Moderated by khalil murrell (Aired on Sunday, October 25)  

In “Blink Your Eyes,” Sekou Sundiata’s poem about a traffic stop, he writes that what might happen in the blink of an eye, “all depends on the skin you’re living in.” Poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess and Cyrée Jarelle Johnson explore questions about the evolution of their aesthetics, how they tie into issues of identity, and how they do or don’t feel compelled to write as “black male poets” in this time. Moderated by khalil murrell. 

BLACK FUTURES, BLACK PASTS presented by Cave Canem: Yona Harvey, Cherene Sherrard. Moderated by Kush Thompson (Aired on October 25)  

Yona Harvey’s You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love investigates Black futures and possibilities via the supernatural and Afro-futurism, while Cherene Sherrard uses one of the earliest cookbooks published by an African American woman to memorialize the past in her newest poetry collection, Grimoire. Presented by Cave Canem, in “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” Harvey and Sherrard read from their recent books and talk with Cave Canem fellow Kush Thompson about centering Black womanhood in their work. Introduction by Malcolm Tariq, Programs and Communications Manager, Cave Canem. 

POETS FORUM: POETRY AND POEMS IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES: Kwame Dawes, Terrance Hayes (Aired on Friday, October 30)  

Academy Chancellors Kwame Dawes and Terrance Hayes continue their long-standing commitment to celebrating the value and persistent relevance of art, and especially poetry in our world today. For both poets, the poet’s obligation to record, to leave a record of experiences (ordinary, human and sincere) and of their bodies’ existence in the historical moment is as radical and revolutionary and urgent as any protest poem might be. 

AMERICAN POETRIESCornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch, Paisley Rekdal. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell (Aired on Saturday, October 24)  

Adrienne Rich wrote that there is no such thing as an “American Poetry.” Instead, there are American Poetries—so many divergent schools that no single style or aesthetic can be singled out as the definitively “American” one. Cornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch and Paisley Rekdal consider what we gain from this diversity and by listening more closely to each other. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell. 

I AM NOT FREE WHILE ANY WOMAN IS UNFREE: Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja, Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra (Aired on Sunday, October 25) 

Poet Audre Lorde once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Almost forty years later, her words are still poignant and relevant. What does it look like when women writers are in community with each other, writing for and with each other? How does this continue to transform the poems that they and others write, the canon, the poetry community and other communities? Participating poets include Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja and Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra. 

ON CRAFT: Vievee Francis (Aired on Thursday, October 29) 

Vievee Francis considers and discusses questions related to the craft of making poems. What is the larger purpose of craft? What are the rewards of trying to master it? How do work schedules, patterns of revision, the uses of traditional forms, the subtleties of line breaks or the place of sound and phrasing in composition come into play when considering craft?

Tyehimba Jess sharing poems in his reading aired on Thursday, October 29, 2020


Main Stage reading with Reginald Dwayne Betts and Nikky Finney (Aired on Saturday, October 31) 

Main Stage Reading with Cornelius Eady (Aired on Friday, October 30) 

Main Stage Reading with Tyehimba Jess (Aired on Thursday, October 29) 

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Introducing Dodge’s two new senior leaders

Posted on by Dodge

We are excited to welcome Marianna Schaffer as Vice President of Programs and Jennene Tierney as Vice President of People, Culture, Equity — two new senior leaders who will help guide the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in embedding racial justice and anti-racism within the organization and achieving its vision of an equitable New Jersey.

“Dodge’s transformation to become an anti-racist organization and design a new model of philanthropy is a testament to the resiliency, self-awareness, and dedication of its staff and board and network of partners,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s President and CEO. “We are thrilled to have Marianna and Jennene join the Dodge team and help us explore ways to build the new, live the new, and change the rules as we work to better equip ourselves, the nonprofit sector, and our communities for activating people for social change and racial justice.”

As Dodge’s Vice President of Programs, Marianna (she/her/hers), a philanthropic leader with nearly 20 years’ experience, will lead our grantmaking activities as we transform our program priorities to focus on equity, anti-racism, and justice. She will work to create new ways to power build and share decision-making, as well as develop and implement new program areas and initiatives to expand the Foundation’s reach and impact.

Jennene Tierney (she/her/hers) joins us as our new Vice President of People, Culture, and Equity to oversee the Foundation’s human resources, culture building and internal and external communications strategies. In this role she will guide the implementation of an overarching diversity, equity, and inclusion vision, ensure continuous learning and values alignment within the Foundation’s culture and practices, and work in deep collaboration with staff and leadership as the organization continues to evolve and adapt its capacity to center equity and justice in all that we do.

Diversified Search Group assisted with the search for the two positions, both of which are newly created roles.

Read our full announcement here.

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President’s Message: Lessons learned for the year ahead

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne

At the Dodge Foundation, we challenged ourselves this year as we focused on the opportunity to lead and live into equity. 2020 invited us to explore the intersection of risk and opportunity and to take responsibility for our collective safety as the global pandemic, racial uprisings, and threats to the foundation of our democracy brought into focus who we are and what we stand for. We leaned into what the year brought with trust, transparency, and compassion for each other and our community.

Democracy is Solidarity. Image Courtesy Amplifier / Tracie Ching

As people navigating the pandemic ourselves united by our collective vision of an equitable New Jersey, we have become more grateful than ever before, counting our blessings, cherishing our loved ones, consuming less, and adapting to our new realities. We are more resilient, flexible, and agile than we ever thought we could be. Amid the chaos, this collective pause allowed us to appreciate those moments of Zen and “check in” as we rediscovered our shared humanity.

The dual crises of racial injustice and the global pandemic accelerated the Foundation’s imperative to Imagine A New Way and commitment to transform our work and the construct of philanthropy itself. We deepened and built new relationships, experimented with different ways of working, and embraced the boldness of what it means to us to explore this new mindset’s two interdependent components:

  1. Imagine a New Way is Dodge’s transformation to become an anti-racist organization as we center our work with intentionality and action on racial equity and justice.
  2. Imagine a New Way is also Dodge’s transformation, role, and leadership in designing a new model of “philanthropy” by democratizing power, redistributing wealth, and shifting economic control to communities that is just and regenerative for people and the planet. 

Imagine a New Way is the lens with which we have operated internally, externally, programmatically, and financially this year. Drawing from the Just Transition framework, over the next year at Dodge we will begin to build the new, live the new, and change the rules. Below are just a few highlights from this past year that are informing the activation of the next phase of our transformation. 

New work, new grants, new processes, new thinking

In response to the pandemic and building upon the experiences from other disasters, Dodge awarded more than $2.55 million in COVID-19 urgent community needs and election integrity grants.  We converted almost all grant making to general operating support, created more inclusive decision-making processes to evaluate and decide on new grants, and leveraged technology to deploy funds quickly and efficiently. We set aside existing grant guidelines and application processes and lived into Trust-Based Philanthropy protocols and the Council of Foundations Pledge. Our poetry team rose to the challenge of the pandemic and created the first-ever virtual Dodge Poetry Festival reaching more than 14,000 people across the globe over 11 days while providing 80,000 in COVID-19 relief to 8 poetry organizations. Finally, cross-state and cross-sector collaborations for pandemic relief led to the formation of a new New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund to support artists and arts organizations now and in the future.

In 2021, we will leverage the lessons learned from living into and creating virtual collaborative spaces and strengthen our new relationships. We will also examine how our current program areas intersect and are elevated through the pursuit of democracy and justice, regenerative systems, thriving and resilient communities and life-long learning.

Culture building in a remote work environment

Like many organizations, Dodge swiftly switched to remote work in March and will continue to work remotely through at least June 2021. We explored new ways to build culture online by incorporating wellness in our meetings with moments of gratitude, meditation, breathing and movement, and found ways to acknowledge grief and loss and celebrate life’s happy moments. We also created space for self-identified BIPOC and White caucus learning groups where we shared readings, learnings, wellness tips, or just connected.

In 2021, we will continue to explore and implement ways to evolve Dodge’s internal culture so it is more inclusive and reflective of our commitment to anti-racism. 

Financial stewardship

Dodge’s strategic plan outlines our financial goals as being “responsible stewards of our financial assets, growing them to ensure future impact, and aligning our investments and expenditures with our vision, mission, and values over the long term.” The strength of our endowment provides the financial resources and stability to achieve our programmatic goals. In 2020, Dodge distributed funding above its original budget and awarded more than $2.55 million in crisis response grants.  

Our ability to act swiftly is largely attributed to the financial performance of our endowment and prudent budget decisions over recent years to reverse an earlier trend when Foundation expenses outpaced investment returns. While disbursing more than $76 million to the community over the last five years, the endowment currently ranks in the top 1 percent for endowments and foundations over the same period, and has grown over $90 million.

Dodge has also made significant strides in ensuring that our current investments are aligned with our mission, vision, and values.  We have made investments which specifically seek to make a positive social impact and financial returns, such as our recent investments in Newark Venture Partners and the Jonathan Rose Affordable Housing Fund. In 2020, we also dramatically reduced investments in fossil fuels to under 1 percent and affirmed that we are making no investments in private prisons, firearms, and munitions.

In 2021, we will continue to explore ways to align our endowment with our vision as we bring all of our resources to bear to make the greatest positive impact in New Jersey. Our strong financial position frees us be bold as we Imagine a New Way regarding wealth redistribution and shifting economic control to communities that is just and regenerative for people and planet. 

Sharing, multiplying, and amplifying

In 2020, Dodge shared its program Theories of Change and Equity Framework through several online convenings and listening sessions with our diverse stakeholder groups and partnered with colleagues in the field to advance racial equity. We also launched a Dodge Anti-racism training series for 130 nonprofit and funding partners with more than 400 people working from where they are to turn learning into action. 

In 2021, we will explore how we can more intentionally bring people together to learn from and connect with each other, so the nonprofit sector and our communities are better equipped for activating people for social change and racial justice. 

We are grateful to our partners, our community, and networks and friends as we use our collective influence and power to amplify, multiply, and activate the voices of many. Stay tuned as we share more about our transformation and our journey.  

Wishing you health, happiness, joy, and love in 2021.

Tanuja Dehne is president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
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