At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we believe New Jersey—our home state—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.
The state’s demographic, social, and economic characteristics, paired with significant investments in health-promoting efforts from various sectors, should position New Jersey to attain this vision of a more equitable and just place.
However, health and wellbeing have never been fairly distributed in the state. Health inequity—the uneven distribution of social and economic resources that affect an individual’s health—persists in New Jersey despite renewed attention to and investment in addressing disparities. That is because investment alone cannot achieve equity; a growing body of research places structural racism—the unjust and unfair policies, practices, and norms underlying every aspect of our society—at the core of persistent inequity.
A Policy Agenda for a Healthier, More Equitable New Jersey examines what a better New Jersey would look like, what obstacles block it, and what actions are needed. In addition to examining a history of discrimination and how it creates barriers to health, the report offers policy recommendations in the areas of affordable housing, birth and reproductive justice, public health infrastructure, and building community power to drive change. Read a brief overview of the report.
Recommended Policy Options
Establish a state task force to assess how New Jersey’s Black residents have been harmed throughout state history and propose actionable steps to the state Legislature, agency officials, and other officials as appropriate.
Create and fund an interagency equity working group to provide leadership on cross-sector collaboration.
Assess the impact of significant new legislation and regulations on racial equity within New Jersey.
Acknowledge the presence and effects of structural racism and identify opportunities to repair harm and plan action.
The Jegna Council is an advisory group that guides our New Jersey grantmaking team as they strive to more effectively center equity in their work and build power across the state, with an intentional focus on communities that have historically lacked opportunities to live their healthiest life.