Harnessing Social Media to Build Healthy Communities


As the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for three decades, New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) has advanced the Foundation’s priorities and supported the efforts of hundreds of organizations committed to improving health and health care in NJ communities. In 2015, NJHI launched the Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action (CMA) initiative to move the health conversation upstream and engage more local stakeholders in efforts to build healthier communities.

For this initiative, we identified six goals toward which our funded coalitions would work over the course of four years. To increase the reach of their work, provide snapshots into their partnerships, and assist us in assessing progress toward these goals, coalitions committed to using social media as a tracking and evaluation tool. We developed six hashtags for our grantees to use when posting about their work on their preferred social channels.

We are excited to share our Social Media Summary, highlighting the efforts of our first cohort of 10 grantees promoting their first year’s work on social media. This project was led by Elena Ragusa, Psy.D., an organizational and community psychologist with expertise in qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation methods, organizational and systemic interventions, and strategic planning.

This summary reflects our intentions of using social media as a tool to track our grantees’ work throughout their grants and also give them a means to engage more of their stakeholders in building a healthier community.

Now with two cohorts, totaling 20 grantees, we will continue with this social media tracking, and we expect to see even richer posts and conversations from the first cohort as they move from planning to action. See the six goals, six hashtags and the full summary here.

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