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Bloustein School helps state government manage $1.54 million grant program

The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy has been helping facilitate the Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant program by supporting grantees' projects and monitoring program success.  – Photo by Tomwsulcer / Wikimedia

The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy has been working with the New Jersey Department of Health's Division of Disability Services (DDS) to manage its Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant program.

The program seeks to provide funding to local communities and organizations to help them advance policies that promote inclusivity for individuals with disabilities as well as address systemic barriers they face.

The program was first launched in January 2021 and provided a total of $2.7 million in grants to 18 organizations across New Jersey to implement new projects, according to a press release.

Recently, the program reopened applications for its 2022-2023 grant cycle, where new organizations can now apply to receive a total of approximately $1.54 million in funding.

There are two types of grants available to recipients: capacity-building grants for organizations still planning their initiatives and implementation grants for groups that already have plans in place, according to a press release.

In order to qualify for a grant, a group must be in good standing with the DDS and the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, not be at risk of insolvency within 12 months after they submit their application and be recognized as a municipal government or non-profit organization, according to the DDS’s notice of funding availability.

Jeanne Herb, executive director of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group at the Bloustein School, said the Bloustein School was asked by the DDS to help develop and manage the IHC program.

She said designing and executing the program required more work than DDS could directly provide, so the Bloustein School was considered as an appropriate co-facilitator. 

“The Bloustein School is known for its expertise in promoting healthy, inclusive and equitable communities and for advancing health equity-focused on social determinants of health so it was a great fit for us,” Herb said. 

For the past two years, the Bloustein School has helped DDS in issuing requests for proposals, helping implement grant recipients’ projects and monitoring program results, she said.

“The amazing thing about the IHC program is the diversity of the work of the grantees,” Herb said.

She said grantee groups have focused on a variety of distinct policy areas that affect individuals with disabilities such as access to recreational spaces, health care, education and civic engagement opportunities.

The deadline to submit grant applications is March 23, according to the IHC website. The second cohort of grantees will begin work on their initiatives in July, Herb said.

In the future, she said she hopes to expand the use of funds to support more grantees, increase diversity in projects and enhance opportunities for different grant recipients to collaborate.

“The concepts of disability justice and health equity ensure that all people have access to the services and conditions in communities that promote health and well-being,” Herb said. “The IHC (program) is about making transformative change to policies and systems to ensure vibrant and just communities for all.”

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