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Grants Awarded to Newark Nonprofits for Early Childhood Programs

Unified Vailsburg Service Organization, Ironbound Community Corporation receive $200,000 each

Two Newark nonprofits received $400,000 total in grant money Wednesday to expand early childhood programs in the city's Ironbound and Vailsburg sections.

Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) and the Unified Vailsburg Services Organization (UVSO) each were awarded $200,000, part of TD Bank's $1 million contribution to New Jersey's Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program.

Through the program, started in 2002 by the state's Department of Community Affairs (DCA), nonprofits are eligible to receive grant money for projects that foster redevelopment of neighborhoods. The program relies on corporate funding and, in turn, businesses get a 100 percent tax credit for their contribution.

"We rely on community-based nonprofits who understand what their neighborhoods need," said DCA Assistant Commissioner Ana Montero. "We also count on corporations that are eligible for this tax credit to provide the investment that will help make (communities) look even better."

The grant will partly offset ICC's $5.5 million project to construct an Infant and Toddler Center in a vacant lot adjacent to its Children's Center preschool on New York Avenue. The new center will house an Early Head Start Program that will benefit babies to 3-year-olds. The LEED-certified building will have green elements, like a rooftop garden and cistern to capture and recycle rainwater, to help educate kids on sustainability.

"It not only improves a neighborhood aesthetically but the impact it's going to make on the lives of children and families is astronomical," said Joe Della Fave, executive director of ICC, which hosted the award ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the Children's Center.

Across the city, UVSO will use its grant to continue shaping its "service campus" in the West Ward, an area on South Orange and Sanford avenues that is packed with community services like a senior citizen center, mixed-use commercial and residential buildings and preschools.

The "service campus" is "the center of positive energy and growth that replaces a culture of drug sales and random violence…" said Mike Farley, executive director of UVSO.

At the heart of the campus will be a new $2.2 million Early Head Start infant-toddler center that will break ground this fall and open in 2013. The center will be partially funded by the grant.

Three other New Jersey nonprofits also netted grants for rehabilitation projects in their respective communities. Elizabeth Development Company and Heart of Camden each collected $250,000, while NORWESCAP (Northwest New Jersey Community Action Partnership) received $100,000.

This is the second year TD Bank has contributed to the tax credit program.

"TD Bank could not have picked two better organizations to fund," said Adam Zipkin, Newark's deputy mayor for economic development. "The research has shown that the dollars invested pay for themselves and really are able to change the trajectory of the lives of our children."

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