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“There is no greater importance in life than knowing you’ve helped a fellow human being.”
-Russ Berrie 1933-2002

The Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference is administered by Ramapo College of New Jersey

21 Years of Uncommon Recognition for Uncommon Acts


The award for uncommon and unsung local NJ heroes funds up to three major awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 and up to eight runner-up awards of $5,000. We recognize unusual heroism and community service in our state and those who have made a significant difference to the well-being of society.

Each year, honorees are nominated from all over the state of New Jersey and from people who know their work first-hand. An Advisory Board of distinguished New Jersey business leaders and professionals evaluates the nominations and presents awards at Ramapo College in May. This year’s 21st anniversary ceremony will be held on May 5, 2017.

The committee considers the following criteria:

  • What is the scale of the accomplishment? Is it unique?
  • Does the work inspire others?
  • Is the person paid or a volunteer? If paid, is the accomplishment truly above and beyond?
  • How enduring is the heroism or sacrifice?
  • If a single act, was there a high degree of risk and danger?
  • How many people were impacted or influenced?
  • Would the award make a significant difference in their lives?
  • Was the work carried out in New Jersey?


You can either download a pdf version of the nomination form and send it to or fill out the on-line form and submit it.

For additional information on the Russ Berrie Making A Difference Awards you can email

Russ Berrie Making A Difference Awards Brochure (PDF)