We maximize our community impact through strategic grantmaking, prudent management of donor contributions, and facilitation of solution-oriented collaboration among local organizations. In the past 10 years, we invested $10.3 million in the community through strategic grants, scholarships, donor-advised distributions, and special purpose funds.
Mabie Playground Transformation
Summit is revitalizing Mabie Playground on the Village Green, marking the playground’s first renovation in nearly three decades. Upon completion, Mabie Playground will stand as the city’s first fully ADA-accessible playground, incorporating sensory-friendly play structures that will engage children of all abilities. The Summit Foundation contributed $85,000 in foundation-directed and donor-advised grants to this exciting 2024 project — building an inclusive and intergenerational park that reflects the welcoming spirit of the city.
Partnership for Community Health
To address healthcare disparities, The Summit Foundation partnered with Overlook to launch a three-year pilot program. The initiative involved hiring a dedicated Community Health Associate at Overlook Family Medicine to identify and assist local residents who lacked access to preventive healthcare services. As an outcome of our $80,000 grant, over 340 un/underinsured people received essential healthcare and social services, meaningfully addressing social determinants of health within a vulnerable population. The initiative’s success was significant and led to Overlook Medical Center retaining the program permanently. This community health model continues to amplify the impact of team-based, local, outpatient care.
Fighting Food Insecurity
Over the last few years, The Summit Foundation has granted $200,000 to Community FoodBank of NJ (CFBNJ) to combat hunger in Summit. Our grants help CFBNJ procure and distribute 700,000+ pounds of fresh produce, nonperishable food, and baby products every year through local partners GRACE, Summit Area YMCA, Family Pack, St. Teresa Loaves and Fishes, Christ Child’s Area Baby Center, SAGE and SHIP. A partnership between Summit Area YMCA and the Summit school district, Family Pack provides food-insecure, school-age children and household members with supplemental food to sustain them over the weekend when federally funded, weekday meals are not available.
Every Child Can Play and Learn
Children need spaces that encourage social interaction, enable development, and optimize opportunities to grow. The Learning Circle YMCA (TLC) offers high quality daycare, preschool, kindergarten, and summer camp for 180 young children, 20% of whom receive financial assistance. In recent years, we provided TLC with $100,000+ in new classroom equipment, furniture, books, and turf for outside education. The Connection provides safe and supervised learning environments for children of all abilities. Recent grants of $130,000+ contributed to the installation of two new sensory-friendly and accessible playgrounds as well as after-school programs for youth with special needs.
Commitment to End Homelessness
Since 2020, we have granted $190,000 to organizations working to reduce homelessness and its effects. Efforts of Bridges, Family Promise, Summit Interfaith Council, GRACE, St. Andrew’s Haven, and Elizabeth Coalition’s Bernice’s Place include case management, social services, temporary housing for people working to get back on their feet, and after-school programs for the most vulnerable – children. Collaborating across networks remains a persistent effort to assist our community members.
Reinventing Green Spaces
The Summit Park Line is transforming the abandoned Rahway Valley Railroad into a 1.2 mile pedestrian park that offers an outlet for people to stroll, bike, observe, and commune across our city. The Summit Foundation contributed an initial $35,000 grant toward phase one of the Park Line’s development to support initial design and engineering, Summit Public Art installations, plantings and benches. Our subsequent funding as the project builds demonstrates our dedication to the creation and preservation of green spaces.
Summit Public Art (SPA) brings contemporary art to public areas in Summit and contributes to the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the city. In its 20 years, SPA has installed 100 pieces of temporary art and 4 permanent pieces; SPA does not receive city funding. Recent grants of $20,000 supporting installations and outreach emphasize our commitment to fostering creativity and engagement.
Answering the Call to Save Lives
Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad provides pre-hospital emergency medical care and transportation. Entirely staffed by volunteers, Emergency Medical Services are provided at no charge, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week to Summit area residents. Recent grants of $50,000 sponsored the purchase of a new first responder vehicle for fire, hazardous materials, and mass casualty incidents as well as new radios, laptops, and UV light decontamination equipment for ambulances.
Specialized Care for Older Adults
The Summit Foundation believes that communities thrive when all members are supported. Our recent $45,000 grant to SAGE Eldercare Spend-A-Day Adult Medical Day Center was one of our largest. This program provides specialized care to older adults who wish to continue living in their own homes but require specific assistance due to cognitive decline, strokes, cardiac illness, diabetes or other conditions. Enhancing the independence and well-being of older people remains a priority of The Summit Foundation.
Grants from The Summit Foundation have facilitated the expansion of grief support programs for both Good Grief and Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss. Children and adolescents experiencing grief can face academic struggles, absenteeism, and mental health issues. Through Good Grief’s Nights of Support, children are presented with opportunities to engage in creative activities, providing an avenue to navigate the loss of a loved one. Adopting a peer-support approach, Good Grief helps diminish feelings of isolation and fosters a caring environment. Imagine has extended its grief support services to Spanish-speaking families, offering accessibility to grief education without language barriers. Acknowledging the importance of mental health, New Jersey will require public schools to provide instruction on grief as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. Providing resources to navigate grief empowers youth to be resilient and fosters a more compassionate learning environment for students.
Transformative Power of Art
The Visual Arts Center of NJ is the leading contemporary art museum in NJ and located in Summit. It sought our support to expand its reach to people restricted by financial, physical, or other barriers. Recent grants supported weekly classes for older adults in SAGE Eldercare’s Spend-a-Day program. We also funded programs for Summit PEP, Art Therapy for Teens, Language and Literacy in Art with Empowering Kids Organization and class enrollment for Summit students with demonstrated financial needs.
Empowering Kids Organization (EKO) provides after-school language, math, and critical thinking classes for Special Education and English language learners at Summit High School. The initiative establishes a supportive learning environment and equips students with tools to succeed. Started in 2019, the program has proven to improve academic performance, motivation, and confidence while involving students’ families to ensure commitment. Our recent grant supports our goal of empowering students to actively engage in learning.
Youth Career Development and Building Nonprofit Capacity
$30,000 for Elevate to Even Plus (Eleven +) funded summer internships at nonprofits for students from underrepresented populations. Eleven+ ensures students have access to paid internships to gain skills, experience, and a network of mentors and peers to foster future professional growth. The community benefits both from strengthened nonprofits and the engagement of employed youth who are building valuable skills.
The Village Green Monument area offers tribute to the enduring legacy and bravery of those who serve our nation. We granted funds to American Legion Post 322 to help update and revitalize the monument area within Summit Village Green. This dedicated area of significance invites the public to contemplate and honor the local men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Specialized Pediatric Healthcare
Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) treats more than 450 children and adolescents facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral challenges like autism and mental health issues. Recent grants funded sensory equipment at the newly renovated pediatric long-term-care unit at CSH Mountainside. CSH Mountainside is home to many children whose circumstances no longer allow for them to be cared for in their family home or other group settings.
Summit Playhouse is NJ’s oldest continuously operating community theater (founded in 1918 and designated on the National Register of Historic Buildings). The theater offers 34 live performances annually; all cast members and associates are volunteers. Recent grants of $12,000 facilitated crucial repairs and upgrades following pandemic-related attendance and revenue declines. The Summit Playhouse is back in action and also brings performances to special education schools, nursing homes, and children’s hospitals.
Enriching Lives, One Note at a Time
“It changed my life,” said one participant. SeniorsSing! Music & Wellness, a free choral program run by Continuo Arts Foundation, strives to enhance the well-being of its members through music. Intergenerational musical programs like SeniorsSing! offer all ages the opportunity to share music. Participants practice weekly and perform at community events and marquee concerts. The Summit Foundation most recently supported SeniorsSing! and Children’s and Youth Choir Scholarships with a $11,000 grant.
Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Impairment
Summit Speech School empowers children with hearing impairment to become effective communicators using listening and spoken language. The Summit Foundation granted $90,000 over the last two years to support the school’s immersive Parent Infant Program that uses highly skilled teachers to work with parents and children from infancy to three years of age. This early intervention is critical to language acquisition and yet is underfunded by the state.
Opening Access with Telehealth Digital Therapeutics
Crossroads4Hope (CR4H) delivers individualized psychosocial telehealth cancer care directly to under-resourced populations. They partner with established public health organizations and offer MyGo2Support, at no charge, delivered when and where patients need it most. It is the first psychosocial oncology platform designed to plug into to workflows of cancer centers, oncology practices, and health plans. It delivers content based on the specific needs and circumstances of the patient. Our first-time grant helps bring people requisite tools to manage their care.
Student Support Through Scholarship
Over the last four years, The Summit Foundation has awarded more than $325,000 in college tuition scholarships to local high school students. The scholarships are awarded on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis to support students who have demonstrated specific qualities and fulfilled certain criteria. We consider each applicant with input from high school guidance offices. Learn more about our scholarships such as The Summit Foundation Scholarship Award for Perseverance for students with financial need who have overcome obstacles and shown significant academic improvement during high school. Learn more about scholarships.