Millhill Kicks Off New Jersey Health Initiatives’ Next Generation Community Leaders Program with Youth Team Building Retreat

Photo caption: Trenton Next Generation Community Leaders and Coaches
Front Row: Calvin Thomas, Horacio Hernandez, Christina Martinez, Nyah Wilburn, Kizzi Peabody, Asha Chukumba, Tabia Richardson , Astra Martinez, Tamarra Causley Robinson Rae Burton, Back Row: Michelle Thompkins, Amir Black, Evan Harris, Zahmir Carmichael, Tobias Richardson, Caleb Spaulding, Tysha Sanders, Melissa Key, Adams Sibley

Trenton, NJ (November 7, 2017) – Millhill Child & Family Development (Millhill) recently announced 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’s Next Generation Community Leaders project guides Trenton teens in developing a civic engagement project in the community that will take place in summer 2018. The program kicked off with a youth retreat in September at YMCA Camp Ockanickon in Medford, NJ. The retreat offered youth the opportunity to build their team and bond through interactive exercises, canoeing, leadership games and challenging outdoor courses. Through these challenges teens pushed their boundaries and developed crucial teambuilding skills. The retreat was held for all 10 statewide awardees under the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative.

“We have a great talented group of youth that bring a range of interests and skill sets. We are excited to see what creative project they ultimately select for their Trenton summer civic engagement project.” Explains Michelle Thompkins, Associate Director of Youth Services at Millhill. “We are also excited to see the teens grow as they are exposed to leaders from different sectors including government, healthcare, business, education and nonprofits. Youth insight and perspective will be essential to developing a project that has a meaningful impact on the community,” Thompkins continued.

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. Millhill 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 the youth for developing meaningful community health projects.

To date, the youth have met with leaders from the Trenton Health Team who provided an overview of the dimensions of health and the health needs in Trenton. Upcoming speakers include a nonprofit leader, City of Trenton representatives and a representative from a private-public partnership, among others.

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.

Each grantee has formed teams of local youth, is mentoring them in leadership and population health issues, and facilitates 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. The Trenton team, which represents the four wards of the City, will form a Teen Advisory Council to the Trenton Prevention Policy Board to share their perspective. Two Trenton teen members are slated to speak at the Building a Culture of Health Conference this November in Edison.

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

To learn more about the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative, visit njhi.org 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 www.millhillcenter.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/millhillchildandfamily.

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 njhi.org, and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/NJHI_ or on Facebook at facebook.com/newjerseyhealthinitiatives.

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 rwjf.org/nj. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at rwjf.org/facebook.