Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Foundation Awarded Prestigious AARP 2021 Challenge Grant for Creation of Mural Celebrating Black Women in Englewood 

The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation
has been named a recipient of a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of five grantees selected in New Jersey. 

Recognizing the groundbreaking achievements of Black suffragists, the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation will launch the Black women's mural project to capture and elevate the stories of Black women in Englewood, as a way to honor their voices and accomplishments and promote civil discourse. The mural will celebrate local Black women’s stories, raise awareness of the Black suffragists and promote diversity and inclusion in the community. 

Residents will participate in the mural design process through workshops, where participants will learn about the history of Black suffragists and relate their journeys to personal experiences. Sharing stories and perspectives will capture community vision and imagery for the mural.

"The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation is delighted to receive a grant through the 2021 AARP Community Challenge to implement the 'Women's Mural Project: Celebrating Black Suffragists and Achievements of Black Women in Englewood,'” said Mary Blanusa, Executive Director, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.With content input provided from Black residents and the Englewood community-at-large, a professional artist will design this groundbreaking mural to be painted on the East-facing wall of the Women's Rights Information Center. This public art project will bring the community together to celebrate Black women's voices and accomplishments, while also beautify the city."

This project is part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.2 million awarded among 244 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects to promote livable communities by improving housing, transportation, public spaces, civic engagement, and connection with family, friends, and neighbors with an emphasis on the needs of the 50-plus. Many of this year’s awards support revitalizing communities adversely impacted by the pandemic and include a focus on diversity, inclusion, and disparities. 

All projects are expected to be completed by November 10, 2021, and are designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.

  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
  • Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
  • Increase civic engagement by bringing together residents and local leaders to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
  • Ensure a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
  • Support local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by emphasizing economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services. 

“We are incredibly excited to support the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation as they work to make immediate improvements in their community to encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director. “Our goal at AARP New Jersey is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”

Other New Jersey grantees include the Jersey City Housing Authority, Berkeley Heights Township, Camden Community Partnership, and the Borough of Red Bank. The full list of grantees can be found at

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages. Since 2017, AARP New Jersey has awarded 804 grants and $9.3 million through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at