When families become homeless, they are often forced to leave the school district their children are attending. In 2020, Family Promise of Southwest New Jersey submitted an Impact100 South Jersey application for funding that would allow them to grow a pilot student transportation program that would send homeless children to their original sending districts. They were also looking to turn this program into an independent source of future revenue. That year they were selected as one of the finalists, and although not selected as the $100,000 Core Mission grantee, they received $43,000 in general operating funding that they put toward purchasing vans. An extra benefit to applying for an Impact100 grant was they now had a robust proposal they could submit to another foundation. As a result, they received the needed funding.
In 2021 they submitted a second application for their Promising Futures Homeless Prevention/Shelter Diversion Program. Like many nonprofits, they had to pivot their program offerings due to COVID and change their model from providing shelter to prevention and diversion. That year, they were awarded the $100,000 Core Mission Grant. The funding was used for security deposits, first month’s rents, moving expenses or other related costs that would help families return to permanent safe housing.
The goal of Impact100’s Core Mission grant is to transform an organization, taking it to a new level of providing needed services. According to Family Promise CEO Rosemarie Parker, since receiving the Impact 100 SJ grants, Family Promise has grown the organization and served more families. “A $100,000 award is a game changer for any nonprofit, but for small nonprofits with big ideas and a small purse, it can really make a true impact on change for our community. We believe that Impact 100 South Jersey did give us the opportunity to take our small nonprofit to the next level.”
Parker was hired as the Family Promise’s CEO in February 2017 after having served as the 2015-2016 Board President, during which time she restructured the organization and developed a strategic plan. Financial stability and growth are always priorities for small nonprofits and this became her focus for 2017. She began researching different foundations and the grant processes and discovered one of the first grant information sessions for Impact 100 SJ. “I was excited about the potential to apply for a $100,000 grant but learned that we did not meet the minimum requirements. In 2017, our budget was $174,000 and we had not had an audit since 2013.”
“To Audit or Not to Audit” is a question small Nonprofit organizations needs to ask themselves each year as they establish their budgets. It is typically a huge expense that takes away from program services. Audits are not required by the government for organizations with budgets less than $750,000, however major funders and foundations will not consider a grant application without one. Even so, the Family Promise Board decided that in the interest of the long-term goals of growing the organization, they needed to set aside the funds for the short term for the audit. “The decision has paid off significantly over the years allowing us to grow our budget steadily through smaller grants with my eye continually on the opportunity to apply for the Impact 100 SJ $100,000 Core Mission Grant.” Parker went on to say that opportunity presented itself in November 2019 when they set their 2020 budget at $320,000, barley making them eligible for the first time to apply for an Impact100 grant.
As of 2022, they were able to offer four programs that assist at-risk or homeless families. Their Eviction Diversion Pilot Program for the NJ Department of Community Affairs prevented eviction for 200 households in 3 counties. They moved 85 families out of motels and other temporary shelter into permanent housing and provided financial literacy training to 75 households. They also adopted over 100 families for Christmas.
“We generated $725,000 in gross revenue to operate all our programs. We are incredibly proud of the work we have done and are eternally grateful to Impact 100 SJ for helping us achieve what seemed so impossible.”