The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Community Development Fund awarded its first grants at today’s Chamber’s monthly luncheon. A total of $25,000 will be distributed to three organizations in the region—HomeFront, Minding Our Business and Volunteer Connect.

“In this inaugural year, the PRCC Community Development Fund Committee had the challenging task to review requests from many deserving and well-run organizations,” said Kristin Appelget, chair of the committee and director of community and regional affairs at Princeton University. “The organizations selected represent the program diversity and excellence that is a hallmark of non-profit organizations in the Princeton Region.”

Lawrenceville-based HomeFront’s mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community. The committee selected the HomeFront’s Hire Expectations Program, a job-readiness training program with a track record of proven success in helping motivated individuals acquire the tools and skills necessary to be part of the workforce.

“The Minding Our Business program provided the Fund with an opportunity to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders through their High School Program, added Appelget. “The program, which advances the personal and vocational development of urban youth through entrepreneurship education and coaching/mentoring, gives participants hands-on opportunities to learn important skills that will help them understand what it takes to be successful in the business world.”

The third awardee, Princeton-based Volunteer Connect strives to expand the reach, impact and capacity of community organizations through effective volunteerism.

“In supporting the Volunteer Connect Board Connect Pilot Program we had the opportunity to help launch this new initiative that will train future board members,” added Appelget. “The program will train a corps of potential board leaders to understand the responsibilities, and expectations of non-profit board membership in the Princeton Region and where they can add the most value.”

The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce established the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Community Development Fund in partnership with the Princeton Area Community Foundation in July with a $500,000 gift from the Chamber Foundation to benefit nonprofits located throughout the Chamber’s five-county, Central New Jersey footprint. Grants are given to the most promising programs that address one or more of the Fund’s focus areas: education, leadership, economic opportunity and development, and self-sufficiency.

This fund makes the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce unique in the region. Said Peter Crowley, president and CEO of the Chamber: “More than 10 percent of our members are not-for-profit organizations and we want to support them in a genuine way. We believe that a vibrant nonprofit community is key to a healthy regional economy.”

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