The FAF Coalition Awarded $100,000 Transform South Jersey Grant

Transform South Jersey

The FAF Coalition is thrilled to announce that Woodbury was named the most recent of six South Jersey communities to receive a $100,000 grant to cultivate and highlight the City’s “Heart and Soul.” Woodbury was among more than 30 towns across the South Jersey region competing for a place in this inaugural cohort.

The five other awarded towns were announced in February: the Town of Hammonton, Willingboro Township, Winslow Township, Downe Township, and Salem City.

The FAF Coalition, alongside the city government and many local residents, businesses, and nonprofit & faith-based organizations worked tirelessly to secure this grant award. The work consisted of workshops, webinars, submitting a letter of intent and full application, holding a community engagement meeting at the Woodbury Child Development Center, and a site interview at City Hall with members of the Community Foundation of South Jersey and other local and national funding partners.

The grant is made possible through generous support from the Community Foundation of South Jersey’s Transform South Jersey, a collaboration between the Community Foundation of South Jersey and local & national funding partners, which aims to strengthen the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of South Jersey communities.

After attending the program introduction meeting, The FAF Coalition board felt this would be an incredible opportunity for the City of Woodbury, and one in which we could successfully respond to the Request for Applications and provide the infrastructure to support the program. It felt like a natural fit to step in as the local convening partner because Transform South Jersey complements The FAF’s mission perfectly. The FAF Coalition champions initiatives rich in arts, culture, and sustainable design as a catalyst for community development and economic revitalization. It executes those initiatives by creating engaging places and innovative experiences that transform the lives of the community.

The FAF Coalition is also excited to introduce Jared Hunter, who has accepted the position of Program Director. Jared has lived in Woodbury for over ten years with a long family history in the City. He is currently pursuing a PhD in public affairs with a concentration in community development at Rutgers-Camden. His work in community development began seven years ago in West Philadelphia as an undergraduate student at University of the Sciences, before moving onto Camden to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

In Camden, he worked for a public health nonprofit and supported the development of the organization’s community engagement strategies on a local and national level. He oversaw a national program that organized people with complex health and social needs to advise healthcare industry executives on their engagement strategies. Locally, he worked with a group of activists to stop the shutdown of a methadone clinic downtown, to ensure that people who needed medically assisted treatment had the access they deserved.

Jared has recently received his second master’s degree in public affairs from Rutgers-Camden, and since returning to Woodbury, has become involved in a number of community-focused efforts. He has joined the Board of Directors for The FAF Coalition, spent a year and a half working for the local government at City Hall, and for the past year has curated a Woodbury coverage podcast called “Woodbury Voice!” highlighting stories about good work being done in the community.

Over the next two years the program’s leadership will lay out a foundation to engage every corner of the City’s neighborhoods and communities, collecting stories and holding public discussions about what matters most to them. Those stories will be transformed into an action plan to address issues, create stronger relationships between communities, and establish new and sustainable economic development strategies.

While the program leadership is expected to change and grow over the next two years, the initial leadership team highlights the City’s diversity, collective strengths, and commitment to partnership:

Jared Hunter Program Director

Bonnie Powers
Secretary, The FAF Coalition

Dr. Melinda Johnson
Founder & President, Johnson Manor of Faith & Education, Inc.
Woodbury School Board Member

Ted Johnson
Woodbury City Councilman

Reed Merinuk
Woodbury City Councilman

Cassidy Swanson
Woodbury City Community Events Coordinator
Woodbury City Neighborhood Preservation Coordinator

Jamilah Damiani
Owner/Operator, MADE. Artisan Marketplace
President, Woodbury Human Rights Commission

Jose Avila
Owner, Vallarta House Grocery Store

Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer
Pastor, Bethel AME Church of Woodbury

Savanah Lewis
Local resident and high school student

Transform South Jersey is built on the Orton Family Foundation’s Community Heart & Soul model, a catalyst for positive change in small cities and towns. By actively seeking the community’s collective wisdom, including those whose voice are often missing, Woodbury will become a stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant place to live, work, learn, and play. During this two-year process, the program will also actively dedicate resources toward asset building by establishing a community endowment fund. This fund will dedicate wealth, resources, and direct investment into the Woodbury community for many years to come.

If you are interested in and excited by this unique opportunity in Woodbury’s history and would like to get involved, please reach out to Jared Hunter at (856) 812-4112 or jared@thefaf.net.