MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The central idea behind the Maplewood Foundation is that it belongs to all residents of the township.
“Maplewood is a place where a lot of people take care of each other,” said Fred Profeta. “We talk to people who come here and ask why they did and it is often because of the culture. This foundation institutionalizes that culture.”
The Maplewood Foundation is a philanthropic community foundation dedicated to providing a continuously growing bedrock of financial support to nonprofit organizations serving the residents of Maplewood, the organization said last week in its official launch.
Profeta, a former township mayor, and his wife, Susan, have donated $500,000 to get the foundation going and they recently hosted a fundraising event that netted another $100,000. Smaller donations, many in the $25 range, have also been coming in and the organization has already topped $800,000 raised.
The plan is for the organization to give approximately 5 percent of its investments each year as grants through an annual grant cycle. The grants will support nonprofit organizations that are working to improve the quality of life of Maplewood residents.
Grant opportunities will be accessible to everyone, from established organizations to the aspiring nonprofits that need support to bring their new initiatives to life. Reaching its initial goal of at least $1 million in 2023 will enable The Maplewood Foundation to give away more than $40,000 in grants in its first year, while providing seed funding to grow into the future.
“Living among those who look out for each other is one of the many reasons people fall in love with Maplewood — and find it difficult to imagine living elsewhere,” said Profeta, a 70-year resident of the township. “The Maplewood Foundation seeks to tap into the collective spirit of generosity, generating a growing source of financial support that will help us realize a better future for all our neighbors.”
Similar foundations exist in Summit, Montclair, Princeton and Westfield, among other places. The Summit Foundation, for example, has approximately $24 million in assets, awarding $1 million in grants each year.
“We want to be sure The Maplewood Foundation is owned by all the people of our town,” said Profeta. “Everyone can give something, and we want to receive donations of all sizes from people of all ages.”
The Maplewood Foundation board will act as stewards of the fund and assets will be managed by CI RegentAtlantic of Morristown. The board’s Investment Committee will provide input on asset allocation and general oversight.
All organizations and emerging nonprofits, large and small, that benefit Maplewood residents will be encouraged to apply for a grant. The Grants Committee of the board of trustees will review applications and select finalists. The full board will vote on and decide final grant recipients, which will be announced on Nov. 24.
Profeta said the Foundation has 10 areas of particular interest: Youth recreation; special needs individuals; senior citizens; the environment; fighting climate change; racial equity and inclusion; scholarships; the arts; emergency relief and enhancement of public education. To learn about the grant eligibility guidelines and grant timeline, please visit themaplewoodfoundation.org.
“The people of Maplewood are generous both in spirit and financially, and we encourage our neighbors to continue giving directly to their favorite causes,” said Veda Truesdale, first vice president of the Foundation. “The Maplewood Foundation is a different kind of giving opportunity, as a donation today ensures a sustainable source of grant funding for years to come. It belongs to our community and each dollar given is an investment in what we all love about our town. It’s an enduring way to give back to the community that gives us so much.”
The founding trustees of The Maplewood Foundation’s board have, when combined, lived in Maplewood for 340 years. Its members are: Fred Profeta; Veda Truesdale; Beth Daugherty; Jade Dean; Carol Fardin; Rick Greenberg; Kieonna Hill; Greg Lembrich; Frank McGehee; Rosemary Ostmann; Susan Profeta; Kristy Ranieri; Erin R. Scherzer; Ed Stuart,; Kaitlin Wittleder.
“The rationale here is that there are things about Maplewood that are special, that we want to nurture,” Profeta said. “The municipal government can only do so much to help non profits. It’s always an argument during the budget process. Our taxes are high in any event. We want to make sure that the quality of life in Maplewood is sustained. And this is one way of doing that.”