April 21, 2021

I Am Trenton Community Foundation Awards $50,000 to 17 Nonprofits

By Anne Levin

Since 2010, the I Am Trenton Community Foundation (IAT) has invested more than $300,000 in nearly 200 grass roots projects run by residents of the capital city.

Some recipients, like Friends of the Trenton Free Public Library, Arm In Arm, and Artworks Trenton, have familiar names. Others, like Sheltered Yoga, Timbuk2 Academy, and the Puerto Rican Parade of Trenton, have a less visible profile.

They are all on the radar of the all-volunteer nonprofit, which raises money from individual donors and private funders for citywide grants. Thanks to recent infusions of $25,000 from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and more than $18,000 from the Princeton University Black Leadership Coalition, IAT has granted $50,000 to 17 nonprofits — its most generous yet.

“We’re proud of all of them,” said Raj Manimaran, IAT board president. “There are hundreds of nonprofits in the city, and a lot of people doing really great things. Finding ways to collaborate and share is really important. We are focused on the belief that Trentonians have the vision to make the city better.”

Among the grantees is 16-year-old Zanobia Shaw, who who will be leading United Front, a youth empowerment initiative engaging other Trenton High School students. “We are really excited to have our youngest grantee so far,” Manimaran said. “She has great ideas for workshops and training in the city to inform awareness and take action.”

IAT’s goal is to celebrate and improve the city and advance social justice, particularly in the context of the pandemic. The organization is a booster of the city, but acknowledges its problems. “This past year was a time of turmoil leading to change in our country, our city, and our community,” Manimaran said in a press release. “We are proud to support Trenton residents working together to address inequality by engaging with our past to improve our future. These projects will make a lasting difference in our community.” 

Grants range from $500 to $2,500. Among them: Passage Theatre Company, for production of a new play about the history of the Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School and its effect on racial integration of school systems throughout the country; Mighty Writers, a bilingual learning loss prevention program; and Habiyb Ali Shu’Aib, a photographer who will create positive images of Trenton residents and install them on abandoned buildings.

Also Adam Nawrot, for the Trenton Makes Video Series, a collection of short films showcasing local craftspeople; the Garden State Agrihood Project, for the Capital City Farm Urban Youth Environmental Stewards; Trenton Music Makers, for its Juneteenth Collaboration with Trenton musicians Ahmad Shakir and Josue Lora to produce original performances; Trenton Cycling Revolution, for a D&R Canal Trail Bike Fixing Station; and others.

The citywide round of grants happens annually. IAT keeps abreast of grass roots projects by casting a wide network throughout the city. This year, application forms in Spanish and on video were available to make the process as accessible as possible.

The organization received 30 applications for the 17 grants. One of those chosen is Jeffrey Stewart, whose grant will finance a documentary about the Black Lives Matter/police brutality protests in Trenton during the summer of 2020. “Even though we come from varied mediums, disciplines, and backgrounds, we all share a love for Trenton that few people from outside the city will truly understand,” he said. “I am humbled and inspired to have been chosen for this grant, and by the faith I Am Trenton has put into me and the ‘American Summer’ project.”

For a full list of grantees, visit Iamtrenton.org.