Halfway through The Giving Year

The Count Basie Center’s nonprofit recognition initiative with Bank of America
has given nearly $100,000 to area nonprofits

The Giving YearAs the Count Basie Center crawled from the prolonged, pandemic-fueled shutdown, one thing was clear:

The community had kept it going.

“We did everything to survive,” said Count Basie Center President and CEO, Adam Philipson. “We held drive-in concerts and created two outdoor event venues, we moved classes online, we initiated an ‘SOS’ fundraising drive… we even sold t-shirts inspired by Bruce Springsteen.”

The t-shirt – which raised about $60,000 – featured a quote from The Boss’ SiriusXM radio program, in which he inspiringly pledged that someday, audiences would be able to gather again.

And they have.

As 2022 marched forward and crowds returned to fill the historic Basie, the organization decided to give back.

“Through our own survival, we recognized that other organizations didn’t have our platform or visibility,” Philipson said. “Yet the work they were doing – like the work we do in promoting arts education, inclusivity and diversity – was no less vital to the strength of our community.”

Enter THE GIVING YEAR. Announced last year on Giving Tuesday, THE GIVING YEAR is a nonprofit recognition initiative between the Basie Center and longtime supporter, Bank of America (BofA). The organizations announced that $1 from every ticket sold in 2023 would be donated to area nonprofits, and each nonprofit would receive increased visibility through the Basie Center’s social media and other publicity platforms.

The Basie Center and BofA committed to recognizing twelve organizations – one per month.

Halfway through 2023, Basie Center patrons have helped raise $90,000 for six area nonprofits, including Shore House in Long Branch, Asbury Park’s Inspire Life, The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide in Freehold, The Sandy Hook Foundation, No Limits Café in Middletown and LGBTQ+ resource group QSpot in Asbury Park.

THE GIVING YEAR is a true testament to New Jerseyans supporting their community,” said Alberto Garofalo, President, Bank of America New Jersey. “Bank of America stands committed to supporting organizations who make meaningful impacts in our communities and driving responsible growth through thoughtful partnerships with local nonprofits.”

“The Count Basie Center is a unique nonprofit organization,” Basie Center Board Chairperson Jeremy Grunin explained. “In addition to our work in arts education, we have world-renowned performing artists on our stages almost every evening. We recognize the platform that affords us, and we feel it’s right to use that platform to highlight other organizations attending to vital causes in our region.”

Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials present a $15,000 check to Shore House.SHORE HOUSE KICKS OFF THE GIVING YEAR

The Basie Center and BofA kicked off THE GIVING YEAR by recognizing the work of mental wellness nonprofit Shore House. Founded in 2010, Shore House’s mission is to empower and restore hope, independence and self-worth for people living with a mental illness. Shore House is the sole New Jersey organization accredited by Clubhouse International, which advocates for work, wellness and socialization opportunities for those living with mental illness.

“We are honored and thankful to be selected by the Count Basie Center and Bank of America for this support through THE GIVING YEAR campaign,” said Peder Hagberg, President, Shore House Board of Trustees. “Shore House relies on the support of community partners like the Basie Center and Bank of America to allow us to continue to be a vital community resource. We are proud to share this partnership in support of people living with mental illness.”

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and Shore House

Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials present a $15,000 check to Inspire Life

In February, Asbury Park youth and family empowerment organization Inspire Life was recognized. “We are tremendously excited and grateful to be a recipient of the Count Basie Center’s GIVING YEAR,” said founder Dr. Semaj Vanzant, who relocated to Asbury Park in 2016 and quickly recognized a lack of summer camp opportunities in the area. With help from the local community, Vanzant and his wife, Carla, raised funds to support more than 40 students, providing them with a safe space, meals and an expanded exposure to the arts and technology.

Ever since, Inspire Life has continued to grow, offering “gap camps” during traditional school breaks, and expanding their programs by focusing on diversity, enrichment and affordability.

“So far, every year has gotten better,” said Dr. Vanzant. “We are thankful for Bank of America and the Count Basie Center’s decision to invest in the Inspire Life mission.”

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and Inspire Life

Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials recognize the Society For The Prevention Of Teen Suicide during THE GIVING YEAR initiativeRAISING VISIBILITY IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TEEN SUICIDE

In March, $15,000 was raised for the Freehold-based Society For The Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS). Founded in 2005 by two friends who lost teen children to suicide, the organization’s mission of awareness, saving lives and reducing the stigma of suicide has become more important than ever, as the prevalence of teen suicide in the post-pandemic era has skyrocketed.

“This opportunity to put a ‘spotlight’ on youth and teen mental health and suicide prevention will make a direct impact on our youth and their families,” said SPTS Executive Director Dawn Doherty. One such way the SPTS raises awareness is through its Lifelines Trilogy program, which sets foundations for a school’s competence in youth prevention by providing guidelines for administrative policies and protocols, professional development for administration and staff, resources for parents and an evidence-based curriculum for middle and high school students.

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

     Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials present The Sandy Hook Foundation with a $15,000 check as part of THE GIVING YEAR initiative

The Basie Center and BofA celebrated Earth Day by choosing The Sandy Hook Foundation as its April beneficiary. Founded in 1989, the nonprofit has funded cultural, educational, environmental and conservation programs and has helped restore and preserve historic structures of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Fort Hancock — both National Historic Landmarks.

“Sandy Hook is a national treasure, an unpolished gem right here in our community’s backyard,” said Peter S. Izzo, President, Sandy Hook Foundation Board of Trustees. “The Sandy Hook Foundation works to protect and preserve the park’s natural and cultural assets and enhance the visitor experience through expanded and ongoing public programs and projects inside the park.”

“This recognition from the Count Basie Center and Bank of America during THE GIVING YEAR will give us the opportunity to directly create a bigger impact at the park this year, and in years to come,” Izzo added. “We are deeply appreciative of the support.”

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and The Sandy Hook Foundation

Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials present No Limits Cafe with a $15,000 check as part of The Giving YearNO LIMITS WHATSOEVER

May’s recipient during THE GIVING YEAR was No Limits Café, the Red Bank-area lunch spot which employs, trains and empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 2019, No Limits Café provides jobs and job training to adults with IDD to help them lead fulfilling lives and to increase public awareness of their potential.

No Limits Café serves lunch six days a week, with its workers involved in every aspect of the restaurant’s operations – from the kitchen to the front of house. The organization recently launched a second phase in its nonprofit endeavor – a paid, 10-week training program to help additional adults with IDD find meaningful employment in the restaurant industry.

We’re so excited to have been selected by the Count Basie Center and Bank of America as a beneficiary during THE GIVING YEAR,” said No Limits Café founder Stephanie Cartier. “This partnership will help fund No Limits Cafe’s programs, and most importantly, raise awareness that the need and result of providing employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities is priceless.”

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and No Limits Cafe

Count Basie Center and Bank of America officials present a $15,000 check to QSpot as part of THE GIVING YEAR initiative

In June, BofA and the Basie Center recognized the work of LGBTQIA+ resource organization Q Spot.

Founded in Asbury Park in 2005, QSpot fosters the health, well-being and pride of NJ’s LGBT and allied community by providing resources, referrals, education and outreach. The organization’s LGBT Community Center is a gathering spot for NJ’s LGBT and allied community, a place where individuals, groups and families can go to be social, have fun, find support and grow. As the only LGBT community center serving the region, the organization also provides education, advocacy and support for LGBT youth, seniors, parents and families of LGBT persons, mental health counseling, 12-step recovery groups and more.

“Over 250 people each week rely on QSpot for vital support, services and social engagement,” said John Mikytuck, QSpot Executive Director. “Ensuring QSpot is always available for those in need is at the top of our priorities. We simply could not do that without on-going support from our community and business partners like the Count Basie Center for the Arts and Bank of America, and we are incredibly grateful for it.”

Watch more about THE GIVING YEAR and QSpot


 THE GIVING YEAR marched on last month, awarding $15,000 to the Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy in Red Bank. In August, the Basie Center and BofA selected education research organization Project Write Now as the month’s recipient, and four more organizations will be chosen as 2023 draws to a close.

“Our hope is that THE GIVING YEAR will not only provide financial assistance, but will spotlight the nonprofits’ impactful missions and help them gain potential new donors, advocates and clients for years to come,” said Garofalo. “We look forward to announcing the remaining recipients in the second half of 2023.”

“The opportunity we’ve had to shine a spotlight on the work of these important organizations has been a true honor for the Count Basie Center,” Chairperson Grunin said. “Giving our patrons an avenue to support these organizations financially is important, but our hope is that this initiative is also providing visibility, so that even more people can be served, and more potential donors can learn about the services these group provide right in our back yard.”