What's Behind the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Latest Round of Garden State Arts Grants?

Frank Sinatra. Bon Jovi. Whitney Houston. The Boss. And of course, the 80s metal band Skid Row. 

We could go on, but the point is clear. How can one tiny state produce so many iconic artists? (Yes, we would classify Skid Row as iconic.) We don't have an answer to that question except to say that support from New Jersey's legion of nonprofit foundations, most notably the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, certainly can't hurt.

The foundation is the Garden State's nonprofit funding engine — arts and otherwise — and they're showing no signs of letting up. Dodge recently approved more than $2.8 million in 63 grants for arts, education, environment, and media nonprofit organizations throughout the state in its third and final grant cycle of the year, bringing the total amount awarded in 2014 to more than $11 million. 

Nine grants totaling $132,500 were awarded in this final round. Selected recipients include:

  • New Brunswick's Crossroads Theatre, the country's only theater dedicated to black arts, was awarded $40,000 for general operating support.
  • The Center for Contemporary Art, located in Bedminster Township, also netted a general operating support grant to the tune of $20,000.
  • The Institute of Ethnicity, Culture, and Modern Experience, based at Rutgers University's Newark campus, received $10,000 to support the 10th anniversary season of its Dance Symposium Series.

Taken in total, these grants line up with our previous assertion that the foundation likes to split their grants between general operation support and program funding. It may not sound particularly impressive, but when you consider the fact that the percentage of national foundation funds devoted to general operating support only recently inched up to 25 percent, it's actually an accomplishment. 

The armchair psychologist in us would say that the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation is perfectly fine with relinquishing control to its recipient organizations. They're not in the micro-managing business which, quite naturally, is good news for Garden State arts nonprofits.

As for New Jersey's staggering propensity for churning out artists, actors, and musicians despite being the 11th most populous state, with four million less people than underachieving Illinois?

Again, we have no answer. We may be armchair psychologists, but we're not sociologists. There's a difference.