NJ Department of Human Services creates Inclusive Healthy Communities program with $1.3M in Grants

NJ Department of Human Services
October 7, 2020

New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced that the Department’s Division of Disability Services is launching a $1.4 million grant program to help communities across the state promote inclusive approaches to supporting the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities where they live, work, learn and play.

Human Services’ Division of Disability Services (DDS) is accepting proposals for the new Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) Grant Program. Under the IHC Program, non-profits, and local county or municipal government agencies can apply for support to ensure that the voice and needs of people with disabilities are included in healthy community planning.

“This year, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, we celebrate all that has been accomplished and acknowledge the additional work needed to continue to create inclusive communities,” said Commissioner Johnson. “With this grant program, we hope to further advance the vision of the ADA by helping communities across New Jersey ensure that individuals with disabilities have a voice in and equitable access to support services, community resources, and safe and accessible places to enjoy their communities and thrive.”

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. The goal is to advance tangible and sustainable transformation of practices, systems, and environmental conditions to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in healthy community initiatives.

“From ensuring that neighborhoods have safe and accessible walking paths to mobility device charging stations for individuals who rely on power wheelchairs to get around, communities across the U.S. are adopting the inclusive and healthy communities model to improve access for individuals with disabilities. We look forward to the creative and innovative solutions New Jersey organizations propose,” said Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira.

Under the program, applicants can submit proposals for capacity building grants of up to $100,000 or implementation grants of up to $250,000.

Capacity building grants are 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 are available for applicants who have already identified priorities, built partnerships and developed an action plan to address the challenges. Examples could include adaptive playground equipment, accessible trails/paved paths, wheelchair battery charging stations in community settings, color-schemed signage, community gardens with raised beds, curb cuts, voice-automated pedestrian signals, and many other possibilities that support inclusive principles.

“People with disabilities are disproportionately affected with chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. Through this program, we want to help 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,” DDS Executive Director Peri L. Nearon said.

DDS has partnered with the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to offer technical assistance and support to the IHC Grant Program.