New Jersey’s Leading Philanthropic Association Creates Racial Equity Task Force

TRENTON, July 1, 2020 — To dig deeper into causes of, and responses to, structural racism within philanthropy in New Jersey, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers established a Racial Equity Taskforce made up of leaders at CNJG member organizations.

The task force’s mandate is to develop goals and objectives to create a roadmap for action to eliminate the structural racism that for too long has denied opportunity.

“This is a defining time in the history of our state and our nation,” said Maria Vizcarrondo, president and CEO of CNJG. “We are at a crossroads where we have to expose truth and take action for racial equity. Every institution and organization needs to look inward and discover whether it might be contributing to racism, even unknowingly. Our task force will be a forum for thought and a vehicle for action as we figure out how best to leave the middle ground and do the hard work to support systemic change. Philanthropy must invest resources towards advocacy to affect policy, and take that big leap away.”

Annette Strickland, executive director of the Schumann Fund from New Jersey and a CNJG Board member, will chair the task force. “The current health and racial crisis has brought into focus the impacts of structural racism on American society, she said. “Now is the time for us to explicitly examine the role that we as individuals and philanthropy as a professional practice contribute to those structures. To quote Martin Luther King, ‘Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.’”

Joining her on the task force are: Craig Drinkard, deputy director of the Victoria Foundation, CNJG Board member; Jeffrey Vega, president and CEO, Princeton Area Community Foundation and CNJG Board member; Jeremy Grunin, president, the Grunin Foundation and CNJG Board member; Kiki Jamieson, president, The Fund for New Jersey and former CNJG Board member; Melissa Littwin, program director, The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, CNJG Board member; and Sharnita Johnson arts program director, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers is a nonprofit organization that exists to strengthen and promote effective philanthropy throughout the state. It supports independent, corporate, family and community foundations, as well as public grantmakers, in addressing society’s most difficult problems and providing leadership on statewide issues. About 2,300 grantmaking entities make up New Jersey’s philanthropic sector. They award more than $42 billion in grants annually.


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