Community Foundation of New Jersey

CFNJ Honors Aakash Shah as “Young Changemaker”

September 10, 2015

The Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ) today announced that it will honor Aakash Shah of Cliffside Park as one of the state’s four Young Changemakers.

Shah is the founder and director of Be Jersey Strong, a new organization that is training and mobilizing over 1,000 college students to serve as community health workers and have more than 100,000 in-person, one-on-one conversations with the uninsured about their healthcare options.

CFNJ is honoring Shah and three other Young Changemakers in recognition that many of the most innovative solutions to make our communities stronger are coming from new, young voices in New Jersey. CFNJ will present each Young Chamgemaker with a $2,500 prize at its 35th Anniversary celebration on September 17, 2015 in Morristown.

Be Jersey Strong targets the next Affordable Care Act open enrollment period and will focus on the over 250,000 New Jerseyans who are eligible for the healthcare marketplace but have yet to enroll. Many of them feel overwhelmed by the enrollment process and a one-on-one conversation can make the difference between securing coverage and remaining at risk.

Shah is a Rhodes Scholar and aspiring physician who is currently in his fourth year at Harvard Medical School.

“Aakash has demonstrated an abiding commitment to advancing healthcare for vulnerable people,” said Helen Mazarakis, a member of the CFNJ board and chair of its Public Awareness Committee, which selected the honorees. “His audacious goal of initiating 100,000 conversations with uninsured New Jerseyans shows he is unafraid, and actually quite determined, to take on big challenges.”

“As a healthcare provider, there are few things more heartbreaking than watching patients leave the hospital with more stress and anxiety than they came in with simply because you gave them the care that they needed,” said Shah. “Be Jersey Strong is a grassroots movement to change that reality, and I couldn’t be more grateful to CFNJ for helping us do exactly that.”

About the Community Foundation of New Jersey

Established in 1979, the Community Foundation of New Jersey’s mission is to support charitable giving that is inspired by its fundholders, targeted at making communities stronger, driven by creative solutions, and effective in achieving lasting change. Through a combination of Legacy Funds and Donor Advised Funds, the foundation has granted an average of more than $30 million each year to charitable organizations and currently stewards over $320 million in charitable assets for current needs and future challenges.