Funds address the needs of schools, police departments, nonprofit organizations, mental health and medical services.
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - For the past several months Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, has been working in a bi-partisan effort with legislative leadership in Trenton to secure millions of dollars in direct aid for the residents of Monmouth County.
“Our negotiations were successful because legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, were willing to work together even though we didn’t agree on everything,” Gopal said. “The result for my Legislative District 11 is that school districts, police departments, municipalities, non-profit organizations that help people in need of food, housing and health and mental health services all garnered support in the 2024 State Budget.”
The budget includes grants to support school districts in providing mental health services.
“We have seen an alarming spike in youth depression, feelings of isolation, teen suicide and other mental health issues that started during the pandemic and continue today,” said Gopal, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
Ocean Township, Eatontown, Shrewsbury, Neptune Township, and Neptune City school districts, and The Source at Red Bank Regional High School all will receive direct funds from the budget.
“On behalf of the Shrewsbury Board of Education, we are truly grateful for your support of our students and our community,” said Shrewsbury Borough School Superintendent Brent MacConnell. “This extra funding will be well used at SBS and I look forward to working with you in the future to support all of our learners.”
The budget also includes a $250,000 grant to support Brookdale Community College’s Social Impact Collaboratory.
“Collaboratory programs such as master classes, skill development workshops, business pitch competitions, and project-based learning opportunities will bring faculty and students together with local entrepreneurs, small business owners, and non-profit organizations,” said Brookdale President David Stout. “Thank you to Senator Gopal for advocating for the advancement of the entire ecosystem of businesses in Monmouth County through the allocation of these funds.”
Gopal said the state budget includes direct aid to local police departments to fight car thefts and address other public safety issues.
“There has been an alarming increase in incidents not just of car thefts but of thieves breaking into homes or garages to steal the keys and coming into direct and dangerous contact with the residents,” he said. “The grants will provide direct aid to police departments in Freehold Township, Eatontown, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, and Tinton Falls and support those who keep us safe every day.”
The state budget includes direct aid to Legislative District 11 nonprofit organizations that provide services to people in need of mental health and other healthcare as well as people who are food insecure and temporarily without shelter. For a full list of grants to District nonprofits visit senatorgopal.com.
“In Monmouth County alone the number of households struggling to make ends meet has recently increased to 29 percent, according to the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties,” Gopal said. “Without our nonprofit partners, more children would go to bed hungry; more residents suffering illness would remain untreated; more people living on the edge of poverty would wind up living on the street.”
Organizations including the Bradley Beach Food Pantry, which will receive a $25,000 grant, are the difference between sustenance and sickness for many residents in need.
“Bradley Beach and the Bradley Food Pantry are so grateful for the work Senator Gopal is doing in the area of food security,” Bradley Beach Mayor Larry Fox said. “I have often said that the Bradley Food Pantry is the most important enterprise in town - this I believe.”
Gopal said nonprofits that provide healthcare and mental health services were a priority in the budget negotiations.
“In a time where so many adults and youth are struggling to achieve mental wellness the Senator’s continued laser focus and advocacy across party lines has resulted in increased funding not only for our agency but many others who are facing extraordinary challenges to keep up with the increased demand for treatment as well as a lack of licensed providers,” said MHAMC President and CEO Wendy DePedro.
Nonprofit organizations promoting the arts and culture play an important role in local economies as well as enhancing the quality of life for residents, Gopal said, and these organizations also received support in the state budget. They include the New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch, $100,000; the Asbury Park Music Foundation, $75,000; the Axelrod Theater in Deal, $100,000, and the Eatontown Lions Club, $50,000 to support the development of a park for kids with special needs.
“The arts are an important part of any thriving community,” New Jersey Repertory Company Executive Producer Gabor Barabas said, “and we are immensely grateful to Senator Gopal and the Monmouth County community for their ongoing and continued support for NJRep, as well as for the work we do to enrich the cultural life of our district.”
Senator Vin Gopal serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Elected in 2018, a lifelong resident of Monmouth County, Senator Gopal represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township, and West Long Branch in the State Senate.