ECS–NJ Awards $117k in Grants to Diocese Churches

Contributed by: Maggie Raynor, ECS-NJ Advisory Council

Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey (ECS-NJ) has awarded $117,557 in ECS Grants to fund 10 projects in 7 counties in New Jersey.

The ECS grants are designed to expand existing compassion and justice ministries of congregations, or make new ones possible. Projects address one or more of the following:

  • 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.

We have Fall and Spring Grant Cycles. The next opportunity to apply for an ECS Grant will be March 2022.

The 10 grant recipients this fall cycle include:


Trinity’s Radical Well-Being Program

Grant Amount: $15,000
Project Focus:

Trinity’s Radical Well-Being Program (RWbP) is a four-month rotating program. Every four months four community members (clients) will be enrolled in the program designed to lead to permanent housing and stabilized lives. They will be engaged in physical exercise, group conversations and walks through the community. There will be counseling for addictions, mental health, and other social disorders. Hobby and crafts workshops will be held along with game and movie nights. Job training and local jobs will be offered along with financial literacy and tax assistance. The final phase is self-advocacy and coaching to move each group into permanent housing.


Building Lives Together

Grant Amount: $10,000
Project Focus:
Domestic abuse/addictions

Building Lives Together focuses on directly engaging with those who are working through recovery from domestic abuse and addictions. Together we will help them start the process of rebuilding their lives. Our relationship with Women of Hope Resource Center will enable us to coach and monitor our clients. There will be a focus on GED preparation, job readiness and training, building a resume, learning basic accounting, and budgeting skills, assistance with getting a driver’s license and so many other life skills that we tend to take for granted. Our goal is an 80% success rate.


We Will Prevail: St. Michael’s Street Ministry

Grant Amount: $15,000
Project Focus:
Street Ministry/Prayer Wall

St. Michael’s Street Ministry is a multi-pronged effort to reach out to the community and local neighborhoods near and far to our church here in Trenton. As with many inner cities, we are surrounded by poverty. We are plagued by homelessness, food insecurity, mental health issues and addictions and gun violence. Our goal is to offer St. Michael’s as a place to seek help and be a safe haven for all. This comes in direct response to needs expressed through prayers left on our prayer wall. Some of the things we hope to establish with this grant in late 2021/early 2022: a Zoom Room  (an online study and after-school workroom), a 12-Step Recovery Bookshop (open to the entire community), a youth Safe Space (a youth-led organization encouraging student empowerment in conjunction with Better Way of Trenton), Trenton’s Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will host support groups and Fathers and Men, in conjunction with Trenton’s City Administration and the Police Director, will operate a street ministry for those families affected by gun violence.

Learn more about the St. Michael’s Prayer Wall

The garden beds around the church at Christ Church, Middletown (2021)


Christ Church Community Garden

Grant Amount: $6,000
Project Focus: Food Insecurity

Christ Church is implementing a community garden which will supplement the Calico Cat Food Pantry. Members of the parish will engage with members of the underserved community to teach the skills needed for gardening. The labors of gardening – tilling, planting, weeding, and harvesting – will eventually produce hundreds of pounds of fresh, healthy produce per year. The garden will be comprised of raised and vertical beds, a children’s garden, fruit trees and a greenhouse which has been donated by Fulfill.


New Brunswick Choice

Grant Amount: $14,557
Project Focus:
Food Insecurity

Christ Church is joining forces with two other local food pantries and the city of New Brunswick and other religious organizations to form the “Choice Food and Resources Center” – CFRC. Funding from this grant will enable CFRC to purchase and provide food and other living essentials for our clients. Operating out of Unity Square will bring the services directly into the community that needs them most. This central location will provide guests/clients with food, housing assistance and immigration services. The number of individuals and families increased dramatically during 2021. It is expected that these numbers will continue to increase through 2022 and even beyond. This collaboration will allow us to meet those critical needs.


The Branches Community Food Bank

Grant Amount: $10,000
Project Focus:
Food Insecurity

The Branches is a faith-based community outreach ministry in Rio Grande which was established by this parish over eleven years ago. The Branches will now be partnering with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) to provide food and other services to the underserved and marginalized population of Cape May County. The strength in this partnership will increase its capacity to serve. Despite this area of Southern New Jersey being a food producing region, historically there is a higher rate of poverty and of food insecurity. The county is largely built around summer months and the lodging/hospitality/beach industry, however, the rest of the year is far more bleak for our fragile community.


Food Security for the Marginalized and Minority Local Community Affected by COVID-19

Grant Amount: $15,000
Project Focus: Food Insecurity

With the help of this grant, St. Mary’s will expand The Friends of Clementon Food Pantry @ St. Mary’s, which began at the onset of the COVID pandemic. The additional funds will give them the buying power to purchase ethnically diverse meals, produce, and other food items that are not typically available from the South Jersey Food Bank. It also will allow them to buy personal products which are not covered by federal assistance programs.


The St. Augustine’s Sunday Feeding Program, Asbury Park (2021)

St. Augustine’s Sunday Feeding Program

Grant Amount: $11,000
Project Focus:
Food Insecurity

St. Augustine’s Sunday Feeding Program has been in existence in the heart of Asbury Park for over thirty years. Until the pandemic, this vital feeding program provided nutritious hot meals to the underserved in a friendly and safe environment. During the pandemic, the focus shifted to providing bag lunches distributed outdoors.  Now that the indoor feeding program is becoming an option again, this grant will enable St. Augustine’s to expand and do both.  In addition to their indoor hot meals, they expect to serve 400 to 500 lunches over the next 12 months. During the peak of COVID, St. Augustine’s partnered with Jersey Shore Hospital to test and to administer COVID vaccine shots. COVID advice continues to be provided. The community, regardless of their background or situation, is unquestionably welcomed and made to feel at home.


Immigrant Assistance and Orientation Center

Grant Amount: $15,000
Project Focus:
Immigration Issues

These two churches see their Immigration Assistance and Orientation Center as a way to follow Jesus out into the community. They would like to formalize and expand their response to the immigration population by contracting with a part-time immigration attorney and an administrative assistant. This professional counsel will help immigrants with orientation and assistance related to immigration law, job training, ESL classes and other critical social services tools. Port Elizabeth is a major conduit through which immigrants of all nationalities pass. If successful, they hope to expand their program hours with additional lawyers and trained staff. The ultimate goal would be to make this program a model to be used by other congregations.


A Ministry Initiative of Faith with Tolerance, Acceptance, and Understanding

Grant Amount: $6,000
Project Focus:

The focus for Christ Church is to provide people of all ages who live with the challenges of autism and other special needs an opportunity to worship through a special monthly fellowship. Emphasis will be placed on shorter services with softer music. Participation will be encouraged with the use of calming, tactile musical instruments.

About Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey

ECS-NJ focuses on proactively addressing human needs, and relentlessly working against both social and racial injustice.

ECS-NJ fulfills its mission mandate by:

  • Raising funds across the diocese.
  • Networking and building meaningful relationships between our 138 congregations.
  • Giving grants to churches of the Diocese to help to expand existing ministries, or to encourage exciting new initiatives.
  • Advocating for the reform of social structures and systems, which are unjust, and fail to respect the dignity of every human being.

To learn more, visit our website and follow us on Facebook.

To donate: click here