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Young students dancing and singing on stage

October 3, 2017

Challenge Grant and Naming Rights for New Performing Arts Academy Open to Sponsors and Corporations

Local Donors Jay and Linda Grunin Announce Challenge Grant during Arts Celebration

A special Performing Arts Academy Partnership Celebration of the Arts was held on Thursday, September 28 at 2:00 p.m., in the Grunin Center for the Arts Main Theatre, on the Ocean County College Main Campus, Toms River, NJ. Performing Arts Academy (PAA) partners cosponsored the event including Ocean County College (OCC), Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS), Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, and Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

In May 2017, Dr. Jon H. Larson, OCC President, announced an $8 million donation to the College. This extraordinary donation, a gift from the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, will be used along with additional funding from the County of Ocean and the State of New Jersey, to help construct a new building to house the PAA on the College’s Toms River Main Campus. This new facility will be shared between OCVTS and OCC, allowing expansion of college programs in the performing arts. High school students enrolled at the PAA will be able to enroll in college courses allowing students to earn college credit while still in high school. Students will also have the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an OCC associate degree.

The theme of Thursday’s Celebration of the Arts event was “Motivated to Challenge. Motivated to Perform.” During the program, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation challenged Ocean County College to raise additional funds to support academic offerings and cultural programs at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts. Should $5 million be raised through this Challenge Grant before December 2020, Jay and Linda Grunin will waive their naming rights to the Performing Arts Academy.

Funding opportunities through the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation Challenge Grant include:

  • A sponsor and/or corporation will receive name recognition on the Performing Arts Academy for a minimum $2.5 million donation; and
  • The remaining balance to reach $5 million from one or multiple sources may receive naming rights on any of various areas in the Grunin Complex, such as the black box theatre, arts display cases, dance studio, recording studio, classrooms, or performing arts laboratories.

The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is a major supporter of the arts in Ocean County. It recognizes the importance of engaging residents in the arts for their communities to become vibrant beacons for economic development. Funds received from the Challenge Grant will provide the resources for Ocean County College to be established as a premier provider of the arts and creative learning by offering first-class artistic and cultural experiences to the residents of Ocean County and beyond.

The Celebration for the Arts program featured the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy Vocal Ensemble singing the National Anthem; a viewing of the OCVTS video “Endless Possibilities”; and an OCVTS Vocal/Dance Performance of “You Will Be Found” from Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen.

Speakers included Dr. Jon H. Larson, OCC President; Joseph H. Vicari, Ocean County Freeholder Director and Liaison to OCVTS; William P. Hoey Jr., OCVTS Superintendent; Nina B. Anuario, President, OCVTS Board of Education; Jay Grunin, Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation; and Jeremy Grunin, President, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation.

Over the next two years, OCC will be actively seeking donors for the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation Challenge Grant.


“We are breaking new ground in an associational innovation by partnering with OCVTS to construct a Performing Arts Academy on the OCC campus. This will be the first-in-the-nation organically grown example of an entire early college high school that allows a student to graduate with a high school diploma and OCC’s Associate in Arts degree at the same time. Only through the generous support of the Grunin Foundation, the County Freeholders, and the State of New Jersey is this project becoming a reality.” – Jon H. Larson, Ph.D., President, Ocean County College

“Helping to bring the Performing Arts Academy to the campus of Ocean County College is a reaffirmation of our commitment to the Arts at the Jersey Shore. This partnership will allow our young people, who have a real passion for the Arts, to receive a first-class education in a beautiful college setting, at a state-of-the-art facility. We know that one of the drivers of a strong economy is a thriving Arts culture, and with this Academy we will see graduates for generations to come who will continue to uplift our community.” – Jay Grunin, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

“This amazing educational and cultural project is the direct result of the cooperation and partnership between the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, the Ocean County Freeholders, the New Jersey State Department of Education, Ocean County College and the Ocean County Vocational School District.” – William P. Hoey, Jr., OCVTS Superintendent

“Providing quality educational opportunities has always been a priority for the Board of Freeholders as we take great pride in both Ocean County College and the Ocean County Vocational Technical School. When we can partner with the state and organizations like the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation to assist with financial support in advancing these opportunities, everyone benefits from it. I want to extend the appreciation of the Board to the Grunins for their generous contribution in helping to bring the Performing Arts Academy to the Ocean County College campus.” – John C. Bartlett Jr., Ocean County Freeholder and Liaison to OCC

“On behalf of the entire Board of Chosen Freeholders, I am very pleased that this partnership will bring exciting new opportunities to our Vocational School students. The Performing Arts Academy on the Ocean County College campus will provide students with an outstanding education using both existing college buildings and state-of-the-art new facilities. Here, our creatively gifted young people will find a place where their talents will truly blossom.” – Joseph H. Vicari, Ocean County Freeholder and Liaison to OCVTS


Ocean County College

Ocean County College, an innovative academic leader, provides affordable, student-centered, high quality educational experiences that prepare and empower diverse learners to contribute to and succeed in global societies. Ocean County College invests in and fosters academic, economic, and cultural excellence and ensures financial strength by generating new revenue streams, engaging in national and international university and corporate partnerships, and cultivating a technologically progressive and entrepreneurial spirit. Ocean County College’s vision is to be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America.

Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation

The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is a private family philanthropic fund based in Toms River.  The goal of the Grunin Foundation is to make Ocean and Monmouth counties the regional template for quality of life and strong economic health through focused investment in healthcare, education, and the arts. The Foundation collaborates with and invests in innovative projects that can have a measurable impact and create meaningful, transformative change for the community.

Ocean County Vocational Technical School

The Ocean County Vocational Technical School system prepares students for job placement or further education leading to successful employment. It develops partnerships with affiliated schools, parents, business, industry, and community agencies to create and deliver opportunities for students to participate in quality occupational programs and support services. These programs and services are designed to meet the needs of high school students and adult learners, as well as the requirements of employers, colleges, technical schools and the community. All students will achieve the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards at all grade levels. Our most important products are our quality graduates and our most important service is to provide them with skills for a lifetime.

Performing Arts Academy:

The PAA is a competitive, specialized, full-time, public high school program that concentrates heavily on the performing arts, serving students in 9th-12th grades from all of Ocean County. The PAA offers intense studies in theatre, dance, vocal music, and audio engineering while providing a challenging college-preparatory course of study that meets and exceeds the New Jersey Core Content Curriculum standards for high school graduation. The PAA’s challenging coursework empowers graduates with the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to succeed in the academia and arts industry.

Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Ocean County is governed by a five member Board of Chosen Freeholders, acting in concert to protect the health and welfare of its citizens. Each Freeholder serves as a chairperson of an area of County Government, broadly divided into the categories of: Administration; Environmental Resources; Finances, Parks, and Recreation; Human Services; Law and Public Safety, Public Works and County Operations; and Transportation and Senior Services.