Our Impact

On November 4, 2019, The Nicholson Foundation announced its official spend down timeline. The Foundation will commit to its last grants through the middle of 2020 and close its office at the end of 2021, having left behind a legacy of transformational change for New Jersey. Over the years, The Nicholson Foundation’s focus areas have evolved. At its founding in 2002, the Foundation's emphasis was on at-risk youth, offender reentry, and family stability, and we supported centers to serve these population groups by linking them to services and resources. We responded to opportunities as they changed for meeting the needs of people, leading to the current five focus areas of primary care, population health, early childhood, professional development, and state government. At the same time, the Foundation’s guiding principles have remained essentially the same—systems change, “riding the wave” (searching for opportunities in areas where momentum exists), and sustainability.

These principles have been key to developing projects that have had substantial impact for vulnerable populations in New Jersey. Among the highlights are:

  • The Foundation invested early in seven Family Success Centers in the Newark area. This initiative was so successful that the State took it on and currently funds a statewide network of 37 Centers. These neighborhood-based, one-stop centers provide a wide range of coordinated social services and other resources designed to promote family stability and child well-being.
  • Grow NJ Kids is New Jersey’s early childhood program quality rating and improvement system. The Foundation’s support has helped dozens of early childhood centers participate in the system, thereby improving the quality of care they provide. It has also supported technical assistance and coaching efforts to enhance the professional capabilities of child care providers.
  • The Foundation has supported a number of community-based healthcare coalitions, including the Trenton Health Team (Mercer County) and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (Camden County). Our investment helped these community health improvement collaboratives become effective urban health care delivery systems and participate in New Jersey’s groundbreaking Medicaid Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Demonstration Project. Our support for these community coalitions continues and is expanding into other communities, including Paterson (Passaic County) and Freehold (Monmouth County).
Medicaid ACOs in NJ

Pictured: Staff members from several of New Jersey’s Medicaid ACOs meet with Nicholson Foundation and NJHCQI staff in 2015.

  • We have supported a long-term, multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a blueprint for redesigning New Jersey’s Medicaid system to achieve the “Triple Aim” of improved patient experience, improved population health, and reduced cost of care. New Jersey has accepted many of the recommendations in the Foundation-funded Medicaid 2.0 report and is actively working with stakeholders to carry them out.
  • Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by behavioral health issues (a term which encompasses mental health conditions and substance use disorders). The Foundation has supported a multi-faceted approach to incorporate an evidence-based model of behavioral healthcare into primary care practice. From an initial pilot with two sites, the Behavioral Health Integration initiative has expanded to ten sites. The Foundation funded Seton Hall University School of Law to identify the regulatory barriers to integration, and work with the State to remove them.  The Foundation is also supporting an effort to develop integrated care training programs and curricula at Rutgers University.
  • The Foundation’s support for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation’s Great Falls Promise Neighborhood has helped Paterson implement a coordinated network of programs and services to children ages 0-5 and their parents so as to promote age-appropriate early childhood development and physical, emotional, and cognitive health.