Community Foundations Chosen to lead Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Flagship New Jersey Grantmaking Program

November 14, 2022

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a grant to the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ) and Community Foundation of South Jersey (CFSJ) to oversee strategy development and management of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), one of RWJF’s flagship grantmaking partners in its home state.

Over the past 35 years, NJHI invested $100 million in more than 300 projects and grants statewide to advance health equity and empower community-level organizations to be effective advocates. Examples of NJHI’s major funding initiatives include supporting:

  • Community-focused coalitions working across sectors to change systems through multi-year grants
  • Youth-serving organizations cultivating civic leadership
  • Highly-successful COVID-19 relief, recovery, and vaccination efforts

Over the past two years, RWJF’s New Jersey team engaged in learning activities to better understand New Jersey’s landscape — including its assets, needs, and partners as they relate to the mission of advancing health equity, with a racial equity lens, statewide.

Last June, RWJF issued a competitive call for proposals, seeking an organization to work with the Foundation to re-envision and realign the strategy, structure, and operations of NJHI. CFNJ and CFSJ will partner to amplify RWJF’s role as a place-based funder that contributes to policy change, systems change, and equitable benefits and resources for everyone in New Jersey’s communities.

“As we build on NJHI’s legacy and look forward to the years ahead, we’re refreshing programming in an effort to eliminate health disparities in New Jersey – more specifically, the structural, systemic racism that for too long has inhibited communities of color from achieving optimal health. We look forward to addressing New Jersey’s ever-evolving health needs with these Community Foundations at the helm,” said. Maisha Simmons, RWJF’s senior director of NJ Grantmaking.

“Both foundations are rooted in community philanthropy — and the geographic reach of both in addition to their roles and relationships as trusted community partners are critically important to advancing health and racial equity and justice,” said Cathy Malone, program officer, RWJF. “They will provide the infrastructure, technical assistance, and financial capital to help empower communities to exercise their leadership and knowledge to build capacity and drive systems change.”

“We are honored to be selected to collaborate with the team at RWJF to help shape the future of NJHI,” said Hans Dekker, president of the Community Fund of New Jersey. “RWJF and the NJHI program are vital resources for our state and we welcome the opportunity to build on their tremendous success.”

“This co-creation partnership is for CFSJ a continuation of a commitment to mobilizing voices, building power, claiming spaces, discovering local assets, directing civic energy, learning together, and practicing philanthropy to help create a more equitable region and state,” said Andy Fraizer, executive director of the Community Fund of South Jersey.

The grant covers work over the next 18 months with RWJF, partners, and stakeholders in New Jersey to redesign NJHI’s path forward related to programmatic strategies, approaches, and operational structures. During the planning phase in 2023, NJHI will not be awarding grants. It is anticipated that NJHI will issue a Call for Proposals in the fall of 2023, with funding to begin in 2024.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. Follow on LinkedInTwitter or Facebook.

About New Jersey Health Initiatives

New Jersey Health Initiatives supports innovation and drives conversations to build healthier communities through grantmaking across the state. NJHI works closely with communities to build strong partnerships and networks that enable local advocates to gain the strength and trust needed to undertake the ongoing work of breaking down barriers to good health. Follow on TwitterLinkedInFacebook or YouTube

About the Community Foundation of New Jersey

The Community Foundation of New Jersey has served New Jersey communities since 1979.  The Foundation hosts a variety of charitable funds and initiatives that unite human and financial resources to enhance the quality of life in New Jersey.  The Foundation’s funds granted over $100 million to communities in New Jersey and beyond.

About the Community Foundation of South Jersey

Community Foundation of South Jersey (CFSJ) helps South Jersey residents harness the power of philanthropy to transform their community and the issues they care about most. CFSJ envisions an eight-county region thriving where all neighbors aspire, succeed, participate, and give. The vision is realized as CFSJ inspires generosity, manages and deploys permanent charitable assets, and exercises collaborative leadership to create a more equitable region.