Russell Berrie Foundation

OVERVIEW: This private funder is a big supporter of causes in New Jersey in the areas of education, medicine, and culture. Metropolitan New York is also a geographic area of focus. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, medicine, and culture in New Jersey

IP TAKE: Proposals that touch on health and medicine tend to do best with this New Jersey-focused funder. Proposals with a Jewish angle are more likely to get noticed, too.

PROFILE: The Russell Berrie Foundation is located in Teaneck, New Jersey, and is the legacy of Russell Berrie (1933-2002), who was the chairman and CEO of Russ Berrie & Company, a seller of gifts and greeting cards. Berrie, born in the Bronx the son of a jewelry salesman, created this foundation in 1985.

The foundation supports local communities in New Jersey, diabetes care and research, interfaith bridge-building, and the cultural and economic vitality of Israel. Metropolitan New York is also a geographic priority. This Tri-State profile will focus on RBF’s New Jersey and New York giving.

As a young businessman, Berrie laid roots in New Jersey and remained deeply committed to his home state during his lifetime. This commitment came in the form of cultural, educational, and medical institution support. A strong Jewish funder, RBF supported many Jewish-oriented New Jersey organizations. Grants have gone to Holy Name Medical Center, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and Jewish Home at Rockleigh/Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Living.

There’s also the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program, which aims to boost the skills of Jewish community leaders in New Jersey. This program is open to nominations for unsung heroes in New Jersey who contribute to the common good. Each year, up to 11 people receive these awards of $50,000, $35,000, and $25,000; runners-up receive $5,000.

In New Jersey and beyond, RBF is committed to research and treatments for diabetes—Berrie had diabetes himself. He funded the creation of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, for example. RBF also supports elevating the profession of sales, and the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales at William Patterson University offers hands-on experiences in the professional sales lab that bears the founder’s name as well. Efforts to bridge gaps between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths have also seen RBF’s support.

RBF does not generally respond to unsolicited grant proposals.

Ruth Salzman is CEO of RBF, and there are several members on the foundation’s program team. General questions can be directed totrbf@rbfdtn.org or (201) 928-1880. The address is 300 Frank W. Burr Boulevard, Teaneck, New Jersey 07666. Keep up with foundation news here.

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