Jay and Linda Grunin met at the NYU School of Law in 1966, where they were classmates, and immediately knew that they were meant for each other. Jay likes to think that being an Editor of the Law Review helped him gain Linda’s attention as she was one of only 10 females in their class of 300, and had her pick of suitors (“she was very cute also”). Three years later they were married and on their way to practice law in a then little town on the Jersey Shore called Toms River.
Over the next 30 years, as Ocean County became the fastest growing county in the state, Jay and Linda’s law practice thrived. They had become respected attorneys in the County primarily due to their work ethic, moral approach to the law and ability to relate to their clients’ needs.
While the practice continued to grow, Jay and Linda expanded their business interests to include real estate and other investments. Each business decision was a true 50/50 partnership requiring unanimous approval. That has remained a constant from day one.
In the late 1990’s, Jay and Linda retired from the day to day law practice to concentrate full time on their two greatest passions — investing and philanthropy.
In 2013, Jeremy Grunin, their only child, returned home to Toms River, with his wife Laura and their three children, to assist his parents with their business investments and philanthropic endeavors. They soon hired Tara Cunningham, who had also just returned to Toms River from a social entrepreneurial business venture in Ireland, to help formalize their philanthropic activities. The key driving principal guiding our efforts in the first three years was to make Toms River a regional template for The Arts, Education and Healthcare.
We realized the most significant impact we could make as a local-based and relatively new Foundation was to improve the capacity of small, medium and large non-profits in the Greater Toms River area so they would be free to make their programs both innovative and sustainable.
The Foundation is a proactive grant maker heavily active in the communities it has targeted to make an impact in, and is committed to identifying leaders and teams who it feels can bring their organizations to the next level, and beyond.
We feel our approach is unconventional – it takes a lot of energy, time and resources but we feel this approach is working on a much grander scale than traditional philanthropy.
We know it is working because every local partner’s fundraising and operational capacity has increased exponentially above previous fundraising records (not including our earmarked Foundation funding).
In less than three years the Foundation’s reach has spread throughout NJ, and still remains centered in the Greater Toms River region.
In November 2015, we brought on Kelly Fliller, Director of Communications to begin a new stage of far-reaching and systems changing impact.
In the Spring of 2016 we began working on our next three-year strategy. We realize we have a unique opportunity to use our philanthropy to increase citizen activity and economic development through the arts, healthcare and education.
Our key driver will be to ensure the Ocean/Monmouth region becomes a magnet in the Northeast for active citizens who want to enjoy arts and culture, push social innovation and pursue cutting-edge business strategies.
Our Impact So Far
In November 2015, we analyzed the overall impact of our investments in The Arts, Education and Healthcare.