On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, The New Jersey Department of Human Services announced that it has awarded 18 grants to help communities across the state develop and implement inclusive initiatives that support the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities where they live, work, learn and play.
The following organizations were selected to receive grant funding under the Division of Disability Services’ first Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant Program (IHC): The College of New Jersey (Sustainable Jersey); Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Inc.; Township of Evesham; Children’s Specialized Hospital; Woods Services, Inc.; Trenton Health Team, Inc.; Rowan University Foundation; Township of Hanover; Rutgers University, Newark – Abbott Leadership Institute; Ocean County Board of Health; City Green, Inc.; Family Resource Network, Inc.; NJ Association of Community Providers; Allies in Caring, Inc.; The Jewish Community Center of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties; County of Hudson; American Academy of Pediatrics – NJ Chapter and the Supportive Housing Association of NJ, Inc.
“We are excited by the creative and innovative solutions proposed by the applicants,” said Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira.”From taking steps to create fully accessible community spaces to developing plans to assess and evaluate current community practices, to expanding critical health services such as oral health to creating new, inclusive coalitions and cross-sector partnerships, it is important for communities across the U.S. to adopt the inclusive and healthy communities model to improve access for individuals with disabilities.”
The IHC Grant Program is an initiative spearheaded by the Human Services’ Division of Disability Services to support communities and ensure that the voice and needs of people with disabilities are included in healthy community planning. The program was available to non-profits, local, county or municipal government agencies.
The program aims to promote change at the local level by addressing pre-existing physical, environmental, social and economic challenges that prevent people with disabilities from having full access to the conditions that support health and well-being.
“People with disabilities are disproportionately affected with chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure,” said Disability Services’ Executive Director Peri L. Nearon. “This program will help these communities improve the local environments and systems that can support individuals with disabilities stay active and access community resources so they can have better health outcomes.”
Under the program, applicants were able to submit proposals for capacity building grants of up to $100,000 or implementation grants of up to $250,000. Of the 18 selected, 12 are capacity building grants and six are implementation grants. The program launches this month and the first cycle of funding runs through June 30, 2022, allowing grantees nearly 18 months to implement proposed work plans. The additional 12 months of funding are subject to future budget appropriations.
Capacity building grants were available for applicants in the early stages of efforts to build disability inclusion into any existing healthy community planning efforts to identify priorities, build formal, collaborative partnerships and plan strategies that will result in lasting change. Implementation grants were available for applicants who had already identified priorities, built partnerships and developed an action plan to address the challenges.
The Division of Disability Services provides a variety of services to New Jersey residents, including supports to New Jerseyans living with a traumatic brain injury and personal care assistance to individuals living with permanent physical disabilities to self-direct in order to work, go to school and be active in their communities.
It also creates and publishes New Jersey Resources, a comprehensive guide to services available throughout the state. A copy can be downloaded here. The Division also offers assistance through its toll free hotline at 1-888-285-3036. Certified Information and Referral Specialists are available to confidentially discuss issues, provide information, assist with problem solving and refer individuals to appropriate agencies or services.