Pair of community foundations chosen to lead RWJ Foundation flagship grantmaking program

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced a grant to the Community Foundation of New Jersey and Community Foundation of South Jersey to oversee strategy development and management of New Jersey Health Initiatives, 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 multiyear grants;
  • Youth-serving organizations cultivating civic leadership; and
  • 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.

“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,” Maisha Simmons, RWJF’s senior director of New Jersey grantmaking, stated.

“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,” Cathy Malone, program officer, RWJF, said. “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.”

“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.