After a period of discernment and reflection on its first two years of grantmaking, Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey (ECS-NJ) is making significant improvements to its grant program going forward. As a result, churches applying for and receiving ECS-NJ grants will receive more support during the application process and the grant period.
ECS-NJ grants are designed to expand existing compassion and justice ministries of congregations and make new ones possible. Since the Fall of 2021 ECS-NJ has awarded almost $380,000 to 29 churches in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. Projects proposed for ECS-NJ funding should address at least two of the following objectives:
• To meet human need in underserved and marginalized communities, especially communities of color
• To engage, collaborate and partner with other organizations, including faith-based, secular, community, governmental, etc.
• To encourage advocacy for issues relating to social justice, including spearheading new advocacy efforts, particularly those affecting underserved or marginalized communities
The organization is moving to an annual grant cycle, with a required Letter of Intent due in April, project development consultations over the summer, and a deadline in early September. A smaller, second year of funding will be available for projects that need more than one year to be fully established. As before, congregations that have received a previous grant from ECS-NJ are not eligible to apply until after the previous grant is closed and a final report has been accepted by ECS-NJ. In addition, congregations are not eligible to receive more than two ECS-NJ grants in a five-year period.
Enhanced and consistent grant reporting will ensure the grantees have the resources they need for success and collect useful information on ministry impact for ECS-NJ. Written reports from grantees will be required in June and December of each calendar year, with phone or zoom check-ins occurring in March and September.
The new ECS-NJ grant application, guidelines, budget templates and supporting documents will be released in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole in February of 2024, and an information session will be held on Zoom in March.