New Jersey Nonprofits Put Community Before Competition

By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern

CUMAC volunteers stop working long enough for a quick picture. Photo credit: CUMAC.

PATERSON N.J. — New Jersey is stacked with nonprofits. According to,  there are an estimated 38,000 nonprofit organizations in the state. However with such an abundance of organizations, it becomes easy to run the risk of putting competition before community. It’s with thought in mind that two north Jersey non profits, CUMAC and University of Orange have partnered to increase their impact and share resources. 

University of Orange, stylized as “UofO” is a nonprofit organization in Essex county. According to their website they’re “a free school of restoration urbanism in Orange, NJ”  that  focuses on “Building collective capacity for our friends, neighbors, and partners to cultivate a just and equitable city.” 

For UofO, this means hosting community building events, continuing education courses and community outreach. Molly Kaufman from UofO and The Hub, another nonprofit in Orange, discusses the initial connection between the organizations 

“A group from CUMAC came out to Orange,” she states “We had so much to talk about and learn from each other.”

In Paterson members of the two organizations sit around a table sharing a meal, discussing future projects. The excitement and jovialness is palpable as they compare ideas. University of Orange discusses their annual music festival.

After lunch, community advocate for CUMAC, Jenni Mastrangelo leads a tour of CUMAC’s facilities. They began at the warehouse, where she gives an overview of the sorting process and CUMAC’s philosophy. 

“If we wouldn’t eat it, we don’t serve it.” she states “You have to be knowledgeable about this stuff” she says of food expiration. 

Mastrengelo feels the two organizations share common goals, citing how their missions overlap. 

“They also work with seniors,” she states, “ they have a young lady who helps seniors apply for free tablets and she wants to come to Paterson and also show me how to do that with the residents in Freedom Village. [We want to] also get them a benefits enrollment center.”

Aside from working with seniors, both nonprofit organizations share a deep history in their respective communities. CUMAC with their over 30 year history in Paterson and UofO founded in 2007, sprang out of a 50 year commemoration of desegregation in Orange. 

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