New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Our Grants

About Our Grantmaking

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NJHI support a broad range of community-focused service delivery projects aimed at creating healthier communities across New Jersey. Projects funded through NJHI generally range from two to four years in duration with proposals submitted annually through calls for proposals issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. NJHI is a competitive grants program.

Our Active Initiatives


Since 1986, New Jersey Health Initiatives has supported innovations and driven conversations across the state with a vision of affording everyone the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Our active initiatives include:


NJHI 2018: Upstream Action Acceleration

NJHI 2018: Upstream Action Acceleration

NJHI: Upstream Action Acceleration is intended to further the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision of building a Culture of Health by supporting existing community-focused, cross-sector coalitions to advance their efforts in adopting and implementing “upstream” environmental-, policy- and systems-change strategies, and accelerate their work in areas they have already identified as priorities to improve community health. The awards for NJHI 2018: Upstream Action Acceleration have been announced. Meet the 12 new grantees here.

By upstream, we mean working with all community stakeholders to address the factors that are known to influence health. These factors include: income, employment, education, early childhood development, housing, nutrition and the built environment. Accordingly, areas of focus for proposed action acceleration might include, but are not limited to:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • New Sector Engagement (e.g., business, library, law enforcement)
  • Effective Use of Data Tools and Resources to Guide Actions
  • Civic Engagement
  • Environment/Open Space
  • Medical-Legal Partnerships and
  • Transportation

New Jersey Health Initiatives Announces 12 Grantees
NJ Biz/Vecchione, A. (2018, December 3).

New Jersey Health Initiatives Announces Twelve Grantees for $1.2 Million Upstream Action Acceleration Initiative

NJHI 2017: Next Generation Community Leaders

NJHI 2017: Next Generation Community Leaders

This initiative supports 10 community-focused, youth-serving organizations to prepare the next generation of civic and community leaders by providing them with the resources and technical assistance they need to focus the time, talent, and energy of youth ages 14-21 from varying educational, economic and social backgrounds. Additionally, this grant funding provides participating youth with an opportunity to make meaningful change in their communities through summer employment on a self-designed, community-focused project, such as a team of Bridgeton youth accomplished during the summer of 2016. Spanning the full geography of the Garden State, including communities where up to 40% of the population is under the age of 18, the 10 grant recipients will serve as a foundation for a statewide network of approximately 300 future leaders. The 10 communities funded under this initiative include: Atlantic City, Bound Brook, Bridgeton, Camden & Pennsauken, Elizabeth, Newark, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Secaucus and Trenton.

Hear alumni from the first-year Next Generation Community Leaders teams reflect on their work, the value of meaningful experiences and authentic adult-youth partnerships, and share new insights that developed a broader perspective in this new video:

Next Generation Community Leaders: NJ Cities Create Space for Youth Civic Engagement
NJ Municipalities. November 2018.

New Jersey Teens At Rutgers Retreat Learning Leadership Skills, Activism
KYW TV. June 9, 2018.

Our Newest Grantees are Making Headlines Across the State

New Jersey Health Initiatives Announces $2 Million in Grants to Next Generation of Community Leaders

The BUILD Health Challenge

The BUILD Health Challenge

The BUILD Health Challenge welcomes 18 new awardees to its third cohort. These communities across the U.S. will embark on a two-year endeavor to transform health at the local level, working across healthy housing, safe communities, community revitalization, food access, and more.

As a regional funder with the BUILD Health Challenge, New Jersey Health Initiatives is proud to support the awardees’ collaborative work to #BUILDHealth at the community level. The New Jersey communities of Camden and New Brunswick each received an award from the BUILD Health Challenge. Learn how these partnerships are driving sustainable improvements in community health here.

The BUILD Health Challenge is made possible with generous support from: the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., New Jersey Health Initiatives, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In 2017, the New Jersey communities of FranklinNew Brunswick and Trenton each received an award from the BUILD Health Challenge. Learn more about these communities’ work.

Stories from the Field: What Systems Change Looks Like in Communities (2019 November 12).

Rainbow’s Roadway Makes Trenton Intersection Pop
The Trentonian/ Avilucea, I. (2019 August 10).

Franklin Forward Alliance ‘Building Community’
The Advertiser-News South (2018 December 14).

New Brunswick Partnership Picked for ‘BUILD Health Challenge’ (2017 November 6).

North Jersey Health Collaborative Partnership Selected to Participate In Nationwide ‘BUILD Health Challenge’, A. (2017 September 28).

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey –
Communities Moving to Action, Round 2


Building on the momentum of the 2015 initiative, 10 additional communities received grants in July 2016 as a second cohort of grantees. The 20 communities funded under this Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action initiative represent a diversity of NJ communities – in size, geography, and demographics. The communities funded in 2016 include: Asbury Park, Bound Brook and South Bound Brook, Bridgeton, Cape May, Freehold, Hunterdon County, Perth Amboy, Paterson, Plainfield and Toms River.

Congratulations to the NJHI Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Grantees

NJHI 2015: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action

NJHI 2015: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action

In July 2015, 10 organizations across New Jersey received four-year grants to fund multi-sector, community-focused coalitions to make sustainable system changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions for healthier living. Teams from each coalition participated in a Boundary Spanning Leadership Institute, to acquire tools and build skills to work on multi-faceted community issues, culminating in the development of an action plan to collectively address the most pressing needs of their community, which is a guide for the final three years of their projects. The 10 communities funded in 2015 include: Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Morristown, Newark, Orange, Salem and Trenton.

Congratulations to the NJHI Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action Grantees