New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Our Newest Grantees are Making Headlines Across the State
August 8, 2017

Since our announcement of our 10 Next Generation Community Leaders grantees in July, we have appreciated the statewide enthusiasm for our goal of building healthier communities through youth civic engagement and leadership development. Our grant project directors continue to receive media interview requests, while posting employment opportunities supported by their grant awards. The project directors have also begun recruiting youth ages 14-21 who are interested in making meaningful change in their communities.

We encourage every NJ community to follow the youth teams’ progress through #NJLeaders2030.

“Cultivating youth leadership in Camden is part of our DNA at UrbanPromise,” shared Jodina Hicks, Executive Director. “Through Next Generation Community Leaders, we’ll focus on equipping youth in the Delaware Gardens neighborhood, which bridges the border of East Camden and Pennsauken, with the tools, resources, and skills they need to develop, plan, and implement their own projects that will strengthen their community. We’re grateful to be able to expand our youth leadership programming and offer this opportunity to young leaders and look forward to seeing the great work they will do!”

“[The Jewish Renaissance Foundation’s] vision is for a community where youth will be an integral part of the city-wide strategic plan in building a Culture of Health in Perth Amboy,” says Alexandra Cross, JRF’s Chief Executive Officer.

Groundwork Elizabeth’s Executive Director, Jonathan Phillips, noted that coordinating the skill sets and programming from local partners such as the Gateway Family YMCA, the Elizabeth Housing Authority, the City of Elizabeth, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Club of Union County, the United Way, and other local organizations leveraging their capacities, increases outcomes. “In 2012 Groundwork began working in the Shaping Elizabeth coalition to positively impact community health inequities by working together. The results so far have been better than we ever thought, and by adding the element of youth into our work we will enhance the social and physical health of our community at an even greater pace,” said Phillips.

To echo our director, Bob Atkins, youth are an asset and adults must engage them as community stakeholders. This initiative is a means to encourage that type of partnership. During the next three years, each grantee organization will form two teams of 10-15 youth to become active partners in improving community health issues. The resulting statewide network will engage youth from all niches of their communities. Read the full announcement here.

Browse recent media coverage of the Next Generation Community Leaders initiative using the links below to learn more about each grantee and its community. We encourage youth-serving organizations in every NJ community to follow the youth teams’ progress through #NJLeaders2030. Why that hashtag? In 2030, the youth participating in NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders will be 29-31 years old, poised to expand their impact as effective leaders, and one election cycle away from meeting the minimum age requirement for a U.S. presidential bid.