town hall
Montclair Town Hall.

By Kelly Nicholaides
for Montclair Local

Seven civic groups and organizations asked Montclair for a combined $221,900 in grant funding for programs aimed at teaching financial literacy, lifting people out of poverty, mentoring, preventing homelessness, helping families escape domestic violence, providing job training and closing educational gaps.

Janice Talley, Montclair’s Director of Planning and Community Development, noted that their requests for 2019 Community Development Block Grant funding would be considered based on priority. In 2018, the groups received a total of $98,340. Proposals provided by each group are ranked according to 20 priority points:

  • Training youths to build workforce skills is a priority for the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, which empowers and supports disadvantaged individuals. The business wants $36,600 to cover 5.8 percent of the cost to develop Career Development Institute II, said Elaine Spears, Director of Program Services and Case Management. Classroom training will help adults aged 18-24 improve reading skills, financial literacy, time management, and more.

Training could begin on Feb. 1. Employment could begin on March 1 at four businesses where MNDC is working to obtain agreements. Employment may include stocking, maintenance, clerical, and other positions.

“We’re looking for 15 adults to be first faces of the Career Development Institute II program. I benefited from MNDC programs as a child, so I get to give back to this program in a way,” said volunteer David Cummings.

  • Focusing on education, Succeed2gether asked for $20,000 to cover 14.4 percent for programs to serve 140 children in After-School Tutoring, 168 in workshops, and 80 in the Summer Enrichment Program. The group provides equal access to educational resources. Its children participate in the Montclair Literary Festival as well as the Poetry Slam.
  • Families fractured by experiences and circumstances that led to a personal housing crisis get assistance at The Interfaith Hospitality Network at 46 Park St.

The IHN asked for $32,500 to fund 6.5 percent of the Home for Good project, which provides economic and housing stability for 38 people in eight low income families. The social services agency helps the homeless as well as prevents homelessness in Montclair. The IHN helps families to stay in a church for a week at a time and get food and care. During the day, the adults work on employment. In 2018, the IHN helped two families get through a medical crisis, thanks to grant funding.

  • For the women, children, and men living through domestic abuse, S.O.F.I.A [Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates] helps families break from the cycle of domestic violence. “We use housing referrals, transition individuals to new apartments, rent U-Hauls, get gas cards, and other viable options for families facing dangerous situations,” said Kristin Wald.

The group hosts support group meetings and workshops to aid 1,200 individuals in Montclair. S.O.F.I.A. asked Montclair for $54,800 to cover 53 percent of the cost to help 310 households transition to positive, healthy lifestyles.

  • Helping families going through the psychological effects of extreme poverty, the COPE Center Inc. asked for $40,000 for the Families Empowered Counseling Program, which provides individualized, evidence-based counseling and outreach services to more than 476 extremely low, very low, and low-income Montclair residents. The grant would cover 1.9 percent of the program cost. The group is also in collaboration with EMTs and local hospitals to address the opioid crisis.
  • To keep boys from engaging in high risk behavior like experimenting with drugs or sex, Brother to Brother strategic mentoring connects boys with adult male mentors who become their “wing men.” The volunteers meet weekly at 11 Pine St. and at Hillside School. The group wants $25,000, 50 percent for the Strategic Mentoring program that “aims to create suitable living environments for low-income, disadvantaged Montclair youths through social, educational and recreational activities.” The program will benefit 60 individuals.
  • To provide financial education to residents, HOMECorp [Homes Montclair Ecumenical Corporation] seeks $13,000 to cover 19.6 percent of a program cost for the Housing, Opportunity, Preservation and Education program. The group will teach to 100 low- and moderate-income adults and youth in a combination of seminar series, one-on-one and club counseling session if it receives funding.

Meanwhile, As it helps connect civic organizations to funding, Montclair is also applying for CDBG funding itself, with eyes on capital improvements for town infrastructure. The funding includes $200,000 to repair the 24-inch sewer line on Maple and Woodland avenues, install a handicapped accessible bathroom at the Fire Station 2 in Upper Montclair, and new handicapped-accessible doors at Fire Headquarters.