The Maplewood Township Committee voted 4-1 on March 7 to approve a request by the Maplewood Foundation to install temporary fundraising thermometers, designed to show how much money the foundation has raised, in both downtown Maplewood and the Springfield Avenue business district.
Launched in January, the Maplewood Foundation is run by Fred Profeta, a former mayor of Maplewood and a graduate of Columbia High School. Profeta and his wife, Susan, provided $500,000 in seed money to the foundation.
The foundation has 16 trustees, who include another former Maplewood mayor, Frank McGehee, former TC member and current South Essex Fire Department Commissioner Greg Lembrich, Maplewood Community Board on Police co-founder Erin Scherzer, and current South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education president Kaitlin Wittleder.
In a presentation to the TC, Profeta discussed the role and purpose of the foundation. The foundation presently has raised about $700,000 towards its goal of reaching $1M in its first year in order to gift grants of $50,000 to local nonprofits that promote one or more of the Foundation’s 10 areas of focus, Profeta said. The foundation must meet that $1M goal in order to make the grants.
Profeta said the fundraising thermometers would provide explanations of the Maplewood Foundation’s mission and avenues for residents to make donations, as well as show how much money there is for local groups to receive in grants.
The sole “no” vote on the TC came from Deputy Mayor Deborah Engel, who expressed concern that not every nonprofit organization in Maplewood had the same funds or visibility as the Maplewood Foundation and that the TC should avoid demonstrating preference to the foundation.