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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 Making a Difference Award is administered by Ramapo College of New Jersey

Celebrating New Jersey’s “Unsung Heroes” for 22 years


The Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award for uncommon and unsung local New Jersey heroes funds up to three major awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 and up to eight 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 by people who know their work first-hand. An Advisory Board of distinguished New Jersey business and nonprofit leaders evaluates the nominations and presents awards at Ramapo College.  Learn more about the eleven outstanding individuals who were honored at the 22nd anniversary ceremony on Friday, May 4, 2018 here.

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?


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

Russ Berrie Making A Difference Awards Brochure (PDF)