Donning chef coats, the students chop, mix and slice food in the stainless-steel kitchen. They’re enrolled in the culinary-training program for low-income adults at Fulfill, a nonprofit that fights hunger in Monmouth and Ocean counties. The 13-week, chef-led program includes practical work in the kitchen, classroom instruction and an internship. Through a $20,000 grant, the Morristown-based Provident Bank Foundation helped make the program possible.
“We had a chance to meet the participants the day before they graduated the program,” says Jane Kurek, the foundation’s executive director. “You can tell they are passionate about cooking and hospitality.” A student success coach helps the participants with communication skills, resume writing and stress management. “This is really setting these people up for the future,” says Kurek.
Provident Bank will celebrate its 180th anniversary in February. The bank established the Provident Bank Foundation in 2003. To date, the foundation has granted more than $23 million to about 2,000 organizations and institutions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
This year, the foundation provided $1 million in funding to recipients such as Habitat for Humanity Greater Plainfield and Middlesex County; the Newark Museum; State Theatre New Jersey; and Bergen PAC. In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the foundation also provided Commit to Care grants of $15,000 each to 12 organizations focused on community enrichment, education, health, youth and families.
When deciding which organizations to support, the foundation focuses on unique programs that yield tangible results. “We could always buy a series of tickets for shows and give them to the inner-city children, but we think that some of that approach just gets lost,” says Chris Martin, president of the foundation and chairman of Provident Bank.
For example, the Bergen PAC grant of $20,000 supports the Voices in Harmony Special Needs Program, an initiative focused on providing performing arts instruction to children with disabilities.
A $20,000 grant to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide supports life-saving efforts in Morris, Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties. “These are very affluent areas and yet kids are taking their own lives. It’s really sad,” says Martin. “Any education and approach we can do to try to just save one life is very important.”
Giving back is encouraged throughout Provident Bank. Through the Commit to Care employee engagement program, more than 50 percent of the 1,100 employees donate time and effort. “It’s something we do from the top down,” says Martin. “Whether it be on boards, a food kitchen, doing financial literacy…[we’re] not just giving checks.”Click here to leave a comment