Jersey City has been chosen as one of 25 communities across the country awarded by the Kresge Foundation for leading in the midst of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and working to solve issues of racial injustice.

The Kresge Grant has awarded Jersey City $295,263 to continue the city’s efforts of an emergent health intervention platform, increase staff training and further deliver equitable, racially, and ethnically appropriate services to diverse communities throughout the entire city.

“As the most diverse city in the nation, our residents have diverse needs, and we’re committed to expanding critical resources many residents rely on. We will continue to identify and address health disparities and to ensure we meet the emerging needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Steve Fulop.

The grant will specifically be used in Jersey City to address health inequities, further health education, and increase access to mental health and violence prevention services. The training component will help develop and certify professional staff to address behavioral health issues and integrating best practices on violence prevention into department programs and services.

“We rely on our nation’s public health experts to advance and promote community health,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program. “In a rapidly changing environment, our ELPH partners have been able to adapt and pivot their work and advance strategic approaches to health in their communities.”

Jersey City saw a 300% increase in demand for Meals on Wheels throughout the pandemic. Utilizing innovative approaches to close food access gaps, the city enlisted local transportation services and the like to help deliver the meals.

Also, during the height of the pandemic, the city’s public showers were reopened with expanded hours to help the homeless maintain sanitation and hygiene. The location has also provided city staff the chance to build meaningful relationships and provide useful support and supplies, including free flu shots and rapid response COVID-19 testing, in addition to clothing, food, and client assessments.