Millhill Child & Family Development Center is embarking on developing Trenton’s next generation of community leaders as they enter year two of a three year Next Generation Community Leaders (NGCL) grant from the New Jersey Health Initiatives, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The program guides a group of Trenton young adults each year through a partnership between Millhill and TCNJ’s Center for Engaged Learning and Research in developing a summer civic engagement project to help build a culture of health in Trenton.

“We need a shift in momentum, a higher degree of self-discipline, and a knack for encouraging others to want the same thing.” says NGCL member Shai’day.

Last year’s cohort implemented the successful Embrace You Positive Mental Health Community Festival designed to shed a light on and raise awareness of mental health. This year’s youth are exploring the feasibility of reactivating a community park and promoting resident engagement for the purpose of encouraging recreation, exercise, and overall healthy living. The youth have been meeting with three community partners, Isles, Mercer Park Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Recreation and Parks, to discuss a potential collaboration. 

The selection of the NGCL summer civic engagement project was developed by the teens, along with the guidance of three program coaches who are leaders in the community: Project Director Michelle Thompkins, Coach Tamarra Causley Robinson, and Coach Raj Manimaran. The NGCL teens attended monthly meetings to learn from community leaders about various challenges that Trenton faces, such as violence, substance abuse, obesity and abandoned houses. These meetings helped the youth to identify their project and design an action plan that would encourage, engage and energize their community.

“I am continually inspired by the Trenton Next Generation Community leaders youth in their desire to learn and develop a summer project that will engage the community in healthier living,” explains Michelle Thompkins, Project Director.

To learn more about Trenton’s Next Generation of Community Leaders visit

Also be sure to check out their upcoming Mission Possible fundraiser by checking out

New Jersey Health Initiatives is the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Established in 1987 in honor of the New Jersey philanthropic legacy of RWJF’s founder, Robert Wood Johnson, NJHI supports innovations and drives conversations to build healthier communities through grantmaking across the State of New Jersey. To meet the many health needs of New Jersey’s diverse populations, regions and communities, the NJHI program encourages collaboration across sectors to foster deep relationships committed to long-term change affording all New Jerseyans the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Learn more about NJHI at, and follow them on Twitter at or on Facebook at

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest private foundation in New Jersey and the nation’s largest philanthropy working to improve the health and health care of all. The Foundation is striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. RWJF has invested more than $1.2 billion in New Jersey since 1972. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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