Millhill Child & Family Development Receives One of 10 Grants from New Jersey Health Initiatives’ $2M Investment for Next Generation Community Leaders

Photo caption: Trenton Next Generation Community Leaders and Coaches

Front Row: Calvin Thomas, Shemar White, Asha Chukumba, Kizzi Peabody, Michelle Thompkins, Nyah Wilburn, Tysha Sanders, Tamarra Causley Robinson

Second Row: Adams Sibley, Melissa Key, Christina Martinez, Astra Martinez, Tabia Richardson Back Row: Tobias Richardson, Evan Harris, Caleb Spaulding, Zahmir Carmichael, Amir Black

Trenton, NJ (September 20, 2017) – Millhill Child & Family Development (Millhill) announced today that they are among the 10 New Jersey youth-serving organizations awarded a grant from New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative is intended to harness the energy, knowledge and idealism of young people ages 14-21 across the state, to prepare them as future leaders while learning to address barriers to health in their own communities.

“Millhill is thrilled to have been chosen as a NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders grantee, enabling us to expand our work in developing youth leaders in Trenton,” explained Cynthia Oberkofler, Millhill’s executive director.  “Through this grant, in addition to having the support of New Jersey Health Initiatives, Millhill will partner with the Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research at the College of New Jersey, bringing their impressive track record of engaging youth in the community. We will also rely heavily on the expertise of the City of Trenton, Mercer County Human Services and the Trenton Health Team to provide insight to our youth for developing meaningful community health projects. Many of the great societal changes began with youthful idealism.  We hope to cultivate that idealism for the benefit of Trenton youth and ultimately, the City of Trenton.”

“We’re excited to be working with Millhill and our other partners on this great project, as it combines issues that are important to us and that we work to address on a daily basis: opportunities for youth, civic and community engagement, and broader public concerns in Trenton and the region. I’m particularly looking forward to involving the youth participants in the work of the Trenton Prevention Policy Board (TPPB) as we develop an action strategy for reducing youth violence in the city,” explained Michael Nordquist, Executive Director Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research at the College of New Jersey.

“Youth insight and perspective will be essential to having a meaningful impact, and their role on a Youth Advisory Board with TPPB will guide us in the right direction, particularly with the training and experience they’ll get through this program, “Nordquist continued.

Through NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders, 10 grants of $200,000 each have been awarded to organizations over three years to develop youth participants’ civic engagement skills, provide them meaningful summer employment, and guide their civic engagement and participation in an alumni network that will be the foundation for their future leadership endeavors.

“In New Jersey’s vulnerable communities such as Bridgeton and Newark, up to 40% of the population is under the age of 18. Youth bring a different perspective about their health and their community than adults,” explained Bob Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of NJHI. “However, adults don’t always view youth as valuable community resources, and youth need such opportunities to be engaged in planning and decision-making while receiving adult coaching and guidance to create meaningful, sustainable change. Through this initiative, NJHI will establish a network of 200-plus youth — from varying educational, economic and social backgrounds — and provide leadership development that will equip them to help build a Culture of Health in their communities.”

Each grantee will form two teams of local youth, mentor them in leadership and population health issues, and facilitate the teams’ work. The youth teams will design and implement projects that address unique health challenges in their community. Throughout the grant period, each grantee will identify opportunities to further engage the youth in leadership roles, perhaps establishing youth advisory boards or inviting the youth teams to report on their work at city council meetings. NJHI will encourage youth to share their progress and network during statewide convenings.

Periodic updates about the Trenton youth teams’ progress will be available on Millhill Child & Family Development’s project page on the NJHI website –

The following other organizations have been awarded grants under the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative:

  • The Abbott Leadership Institute – Rutgers University Foundation, Newark, Essex County
    • Project Title: Newark Youth Ambassadors – Community Health Division
  • The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, Atlantic City, Atlantic County
    • Project Title: Lead A.C.
  • Groundwork Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Union County
    • Project Title: Preparing Elizabeth’s Next Generation of Community Leaders
  • Jewish Renaissance Foundation, Perth Amboy, Middlesex County
    • Project Title: Emerging Leaders for a Healthier Community
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Hudson County, Secaucus, Hudson County
    • Project Title: Secaucus Next Generation Community Leaders
  • New Jersey Community Development Corporation, Paterson, Passaic County
    • Project Title: Youth CARES
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County 4-H Youth Development Program, Bound Brook, Somerset County
    • Project Title: Student Ambassadors for Community Health
  • Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc., Bridgeton, Cumberland County
    • Project Title: Next Gen Leaders
  • Urban Promise Ministries, Inc., Camden & Pennsauken, Camden County
    • Project Title: Leaders of Promise

“This work will enable young people to acquire a sophisticated understanding of the barriers to health they see impacting their families, friends and neighbors, and provide the resources to affect meaningful, sustainable, change both now and in the future,” said Atkins. “Youth are an underutilized asset, and we can’t build healthier communities without them. While we can’t predict how many future mayors, school board members, Little League presidents or Chamber of Commerce presidents will emerge from this group, I look forward to seeing the solutions they design, and also watching them mature as community leaders.”

To learn more about the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative, visit and participate in the conversation online with the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.  In 2030, the youth participating in NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders will be 29-31 years old, poised to expand their impact as effective leaders, and one election cycle away from meeting the minimum age requirement for a U.S. presidential bid.

About Millhill Child & Family Development

Millhill Child & Family Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families in Greater Trenton through education, counseling, family support services and community collaborations spanning from an early age to adult.  Founded in 1971, Millhill serves more than 5,000 individuals in the community with the help of dedicated staff, volunteers and financial contributors.  Millhill empowers lives using an approach that is both individualized and collaborative taking into account the dynamics of the whole family.  Services are offered at 101 Oakland Street and 802 Prospect Street in Trenton, NJ.  For more information about our programs, please visit or on Facebook at

About New Jersey Health Initiatives

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 our state’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 us on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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