New Jersey: Our Home State

At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we believe New Jersey should be a place where everyone can live the healthiest life possible, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have. We work in collaboration with others to secure the promise of a healthier, more equitable New Jersey.

Seizing the Moment: How a Public Health Institute Would Advance Health Equity in New Jersey

More than 30 states nationwide have public health institutes dedicated to advancing health equity. New Jersey is not yet one of them. This report offers recommendations for establishing a nonprofit institute to address health disparities through robust collaboration. 

Read the report

Acenda Awarded $1 Million Grant to Launch New Jersey’s First Public Health Institute

RWJF awarded a two-year grant to Acenda, a statewide nonprofit organization based in Glassboro, to serve as administrative, operational, and strategic home for the development of New Jersey’s public health institute, the first nationwide with a mission to advance health equity.

Read the news release

Learn More About Our Work

Structural racism, compounded through generations of policies and practices, causes different New Jersey populations to experience vastly different realities. Our work seeks to address the drivers of inequitable health conditions in three key areas: birth equity, affordable housing, and public health infrastructure reform.


A woman sits with a baby on her lap.

Advancing Birth Equity in New Jersey

Black people in New Jersey are seven times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White people. To end such disparities, the systems that serve populations of color need targeted improvements in prevention, care, and support.

Couple stands in driveway at their home.

Making Safe, Affordable Housing Available To All

New Jersey has among the highest housing costs in the country and millions of residents—largely people of color—are segregated and effectively shut out of opportunities to live in the kinds of homes and communities to which they aspire. This is a major barrier to good health.

A nurse administers a shot at an inoculation site.

Creating a Stronger Public Health Infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic called attention to—and worsened—the impact of racism and inequity on the lives of people of color and residents with low incomes. As New Jersey turns to recovery and repair, a revitalized public health system is crucial to making sure history does not repeat itself.

We also partner with the following organizations to provide resources, research and technical assistance to help the residents of our home state live their healthiest lives.

In the News

Trenton must do more to help N.J.’s hungry

More than 285,000 households lacked access to affordable food at the height of the pandemic, and it hit hardest along racial and ethnic lines.

Read the Op-Ed 

Why N.J. needs to establish a public health institute (as 33 other states already have)

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as being too prepared.

Read the Op-Ed

Achieving Health Equity with a Public Health Institute

RWJF’s director of New Jersey grantmaking, Maisha Simmons, and Program Officer Sallie George, explain why N.J. needs a public health institute to enhance statewide collaboration and reduce health disparities. 


Investing in the Ongoing Legacy of our Founder

Since 1972, RWJF has dedicated more than $1.2 billion toward a broad set of issues, including health, child poverty, food insecurity, civic life, and arts and culture, and supported key institutions in our home state. Many of our grants advance causes and issues that RWJF’s founder, General Robert Wood Johnson II, supported during his life. Learn more about our history.  


Featured Resources

Maternity Action Plan: Building Sustainable Policy Change

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Assessing Local Public Health Capacity in N.J.

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From the Blog

These Books on Health Equity Inform and Inspire

The bold voices featured on this reading list offer empowering perspectives on advancing racial justice and health equity.

A Generational Opportunity to Invest in Our Children

We identified exemplary practices to help foster the nurturing, stable environments that children need from birth through adolescence to thrive.

Three Policy Lessons to Advance Health Equity During an Ever-Evolving Pandemic

Even well-intentioned policies can do harm. Rapid research can inform our actions and safeguard health equity.

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