In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the Community Foundation’s important role in the state’s recovery, the Foundation’s position as a leader on tough issues has become increasingly clear.
While the Board’s Leadership Committee has long sought out interventions on complex, often overlooked issues, this work gained added significance. For many years now, the Community Foundation has engaged interested fundholders to take on several particularly vexing issues with discretionary dollars. Known as Changemaker Projects, this work of the Community Foundation provides a heightened opportunity for fundholders to simplify their giving and amplify their impact.
The Community Foundation and several fundholders came together in late 2013 to prevent human trafficking – particularly sex crimes – in the months leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey.
As the Community Foundation became a member of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, its Leadership Committee deployed a grant (with its own discretionary dollars) to support the Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.) project. Founded by Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking, S.O.A.P. provides direct outreach and assistance for victims as well as training, resources, and awareness for motel operators.
The project hinges on the distribution by volunteers of thousands of soap bars to participating motels. Each bar of soap is wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number.
Community Foundation fundholders and staff participated in several soap “deployments” in the vicinity of Giants Stadium in the days leading up to the game. Remarkably, the FBI, in its own, separate human trafficking operation, successfully recovered 16 juvenile victims. Six were from New Jersey and all were between the ages of 13 and 17.
Since then, fundholders at CFNJ have added their support to the cause, and the Leadership Committee renewed support to help build the Coalition’s statewide coordinating capacity.
When the Community Foundation heard the story of L.B., a young man who experienced severe neglect in New Jersey’s juvenile justice system, and others like him, its Leadership Committee once again decided to act.
With a grant to the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project at Rutgers Law School-Newark, the Community Foundation in 2014 brought legal services to more incarcerated youth who so desperately need rehabilitation.
The attorney who works with the youth – whose salary was paid through the grant – was able to rectify numerous wrongs and start to build a case for reforming the juvenile justice system such that it truly rehabilitates youth – for their benefit and that of the communities to which they will someday return.
Her work, and that of a second attorney paid for by CFNJ fundholders, the Leadership Committee, and a grant from another funding partner – the Fund for New Jersey – helped pave the way for new legislation passed in August 2015 that bans solitary confinement for New Jersey’s incarcerated juveniles.