Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. (eighth from left) announced that the Township of Montclair, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp., Brother to Brother, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Succeed2gether, COPE Center, and SOFIA were among 12 Essex County municipalities and 33 non-profit community organizations that received a total of about $5.5 million from the Community Development Block Grant program and the Emergency Solutions Grant program on Feb. 13. This represents an increase of about $400,000 over the previous year. The CDBG and ESG programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Essex County Division of Housing and Community Development. With the County Executive are Marcia Marley and Jacqueline Mroz from Succeed2gether, Farrah Celler and Kristen Wald from SOFIA, Freeholder President Brendan Gill, Joe Davis from Brother to Brother, Montclair Planning Director Janice Talley, Montclair Deputy Mayor Robert Russo, Freeholder Patricia Sebold, Emma Justice from the Interfaith Hospitality Network and Luis Agrelot from MNDC.
Courtesy Glen Frieson

By Kelly Nicholaides
for Montclair Local

Montclair and a host of its social services groups received a combined $503,218 in Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant funding for roadway improvements and programs to aid vulnerable populations.

A total of $5.5 million in CDBG and ESG grant funding for 2018-2019 was awarded to 12 municipalities and 33 nonprofits in Essex County. The funding is a $400,000 increase over the previous year’s grants, according to County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

CDBG funding for government-sponsored projects includes:

  • Roadway reconstruction of Woodland Avenue and Wheeler Street ($112,340) and Fulton and Miller streets ($89,320);
  • Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation-Project OASIS Youth Program ($19,600);
  • Brother to Brother Youth Mentoring ($12,100);
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network-Transitional Housing Services ($10,600), rapid re-housing activities ($70,000) and emergency shelter operations ($26,500);
  • Succeed2Gether After School Tutoring Program Summer Enrichment ($19,600);
  • COPE Center, Inc.-Families Empowered Health Services ($19,600);
  • S.O.F.I.A. Soar to Success ($7,840);
  • Family Service League ($9,800) for rape victim service and family counseling;
  • Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc. ($9,678) for vehicle replacement; Northwest Essex Community Healthcare ($37,240) for transitional counseling services;
  • Salvation Army–$20,000 for street outreach drop in center, $10,000 for homeless prevention services, and $20,000 for emergency shelter operations.

The civic groups and organizations asked Montclair to apply for grant funding for programs aimed at teaching financial literacy, fighting poverty, mentoring, preventing homelessness, helping families escape domestic violence, providing job training and closing educational gaps. In some cases, groups got half or less of the amount they had applied for.

Training youths to build workforce skills is a priority for the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, which empowers and supports disadvantaged individuals. The group is aiming to launch Career Development Institute II to train 15 adults ages 18-24 improve reading skills, financial literacy, time management and more for employment that may include stocking, maintenance, clerical and other positions.

Succeed2gether serves 140 children in After-School Tutoring, through 168 workshops, and 80 children 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.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network helps the homeless and prevents homelessness. Families get to stay in a church for a week at a time and receive food and care. During the day, adults conduct job searches.

S.O.F.I.A [Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates] helps families break from the cycle of domestic violence by providing housing referrals, hosting support group meetings, renting U-Hauls and offering gas cards. The group aids 1,200 individuals and had asked for $54,800 to cover 53 percent of the cost to help 310 households.

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.

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 group wanted $25,000, 50 percent of the cost 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 town did not receive funds for a handicapped-accessible bathroom at Fire Station 2, and new handicapped-accessible doors at headquarters.

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