Economic Wellbeing

Economic Wellbeing


Strong Healthy Communities Inititative


Indices of child and family well-being have shown that Newark is a difficult place to live. In this, the largest city in the second wealthiest state in the nation, 25% of families live in poverty; 25% of individuals lack health insurance; 44% of children are overweight or obese; and 25% of children have asthma. Just over half of Newark students complete high school, nearly half of whom lack basic eighth grade skills.

The circumstances prompting these statistics are not unrelated. Decades of disinvestment and isolation from what we call a “wellness economy” has resulted in a weak local market for healthful options and high rates of illness with devastating social and economic consequences. Newark’s low-income residents cannot afford to live in a healthful environment; and the costs of unhealthy living further destabilize families and entrench people in poverty.


Led by The Center for Collaborative Change and Prudential, Newark’s Strong Healthy Communities Initiative (SHCI) started as a shared commitment from over 30 partners across sectors, to collaboratively transform individual and community health, and resulted in a collaborative proposal to Living Cities for $15M in blended capital to support the initiative. This proposal was successful, as detailed in this Star Ledger article as well as this press release from Living Cities. The partnership is now being managed by a consultant for the implementation phase. For more information, please contact the Community Foundation of New Jersey.


SHCI defines individual health broadly, encompassing physical, mental and emotional wellness- all required for individual growth, achievement and productivity. Likewise, community health includes social, environmental, structural, institutional, governmental and economic wellbeing. SHCI will holistically address the unequal conditions (healthcare, housing, foods, safety, and social, structural and physical environment) in low-income neighborhoods that result in poor health and achievement and will link these efforts to education and workforce systems, thereby maximizingthe initiative’s returns in individual and collective economic advancement. Integrated efforts will concentrate resources on neighborhoods encompassing Sussex Avenue School, Avon Avenue School, and Thirteenth Avenue School.

SHCI was established to create opportunities for Newark residents of all ages by infusing the target neighborhoods with more effective, attractive, safe, and affordable activities, services and goods to enhance their individual and collective health and wellness:

  • Generate affordable, quality, green housing in Newark by purchasing blighted and abandoned properties and re-purposing them.
  • Address hazards in and around schools and community spaces by transforming vacant lots into safe, clean, quality public parks and community gardens.
  • Bring affordable, fresh and healthy foods to Newark’s “food desserts” through farm stands, small grocers, and school lunches, and at least one new full-service supermarket.
  • Educate residents about nutrition, healthy eating and other healthful lifestyle options through programs for children and families on nutrition, horticulture, and activities for fitness.Expand access to quality healthcare by creating new school- and neighborhood-based health centers complemented by proactive referral networks, outreach and health education.
  • Provide employment and job training opportunities deriving from the efforts to improve access to housing and green spaces, fresh and healthy food and healthcare.


Ensuring the health and wellness of individuals requires that the institutions serving and supporting them also thrive.  Leaders of these key institutions will thus not only implement the programs listed above, but also craft and effect changes to our civic, socio-economic, and physical infrastructures to improve their coordination, integration, accountability, and sustainability. By addressing the policies, programs, and unfair economic arrangements that have resulted in poor and unequal living conditions, SHCI will create real and lasting opportunities for low-income individuals, and sustainable changes in their communities. Thus, the impact of the initiative will extend past the prevention and management of unhealthy conditions and reach beyond its target neighborhoods to achieve a restructuring of public-private systems, partnerships and investments, seeding the creation of a “wellness economy” in Newark.


For more details about the initiative, please view Living Cities’ page on the Newark initiative, a powerpoint presentation shared with the Newark Funders Group as the initiative kicked off, or view this logic model showing how the efforts of the partnership will result in meaningful and measurable improvements in individual and community wellness in Newark.


– quick definition, links to Econ, Edu and Housing Sections of NA report, Master Plan and SHCI

○      Civic Wellbeing (encompasses civic and institutional): definition, link to civic section of NA, also link to Master Plan, Community Court, Know Your Rights, NICE, and CYM