For the past few months I’ve been working with the newly formed JCAC on becoming a professionalized arts council and building significant grant funding for the arts in Jersey City. I’ve been working closely with the JCAC board, led by Robinson Holloway and Heather Warfel Sandler, as well as Marlene O’Haire Sandkamp and Rolando R. Lavarro Jr., president of the city council. These are smart, dedicated people who know the value of the arts in Jersey City, and are working to make a difference for the whole community.

Tomorrow night, artists and supporters of the arts will flood the Jersey City city council meeting wearing red t-shirts to ask the city to provide significant funding to the arts, preferably through the JCAC. If you’re in Jersey City, please go and show your support. It’s Wednesday the 14th of June at City Hall (280 Grove street). The council meeting is at 6 PM, and there’s a rally out front of city hall starting at 5.

My work with the JCAC is a chance to do something important for a city I love, as well a chance to look at the role that arts and culture strategies can play in a city, and to do on the ground work building bridges between working artists, audiences and families, and the government and corporations whose support is crucial to making this work happen. It’s very exciting.

I’m particularly involved in planning our grantmaking, which is a key part of the strategy for the JCAC. As a long-time resident of Jersey City with a background designing national grant programs and the software platforms that support them, I have a lot to bring to the table.

We’re planning to build on my experience creating social grantmaking platforms in the arts to build something special for Jersey City. We’re going to combine the JCAC’s grantmaking with audience development and community organizing strategies, helping every artist and organization in Jersey City to thrive, and helping every Jersey City resident to find the art that is right for them, from after school programs to lessons, classes, gallery shows, film screenings, live performances, and more.

This is an incredible time to be building the JCAC. As Jersey City changes, there’s a growing acknowledgement of the need for real support for the arts in the city. And this is a time when grantmaking organizations have it within their power (read: budget) to build compelling, beautiful platforms that accelerate grantmaking, increase transparency, and drive arts participation.

I love working at the intersection of philanthropy and technology, and the chance to do it while building an organization from scratch in a city I love is completely thrilling.

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