The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) distributes about half of the $5-million dollars it's pledged toward statewide Superstorm recovery efforts so far. The bulk of the funds has primarily gone to assist mental health programs that have been helping storm-affected families.

"We're working more toward already existing systems," according to RWJF program officer Wendy Yallowitz. "So for instance, I think working within schools, is working within a successful system that we see an opportunity where we can add another layer of service."

Yallowitz is referring to the $793,760 dollars awarded to the United Way of Northern New Jersey - addressing the lingering mental health effects of Hurricane Sandy on school students and communities in New Jersey.

They also awarded $735,780 to the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) - Strengthening the role of New Jersey's behavioral health services in recovery planning and response for Hurricane Sandy and similar emergencies.

Yallowitz said the foundation overall works to promote a culture of health and even though it's Hurricane Sandy efforts wasn't in response to a culture of health, it's all contributing toward that goal.

"Whether it be a mental health or mental wellness, whether it be the social determinant of health, housing, employment, transportation, all of things were affected after the storm. These are all things we want to address."

According to RWJF's press release, they responded to some urgent needs immediately following Superstorm Sandy, by awarding funding to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and the American Red Cross of Central Jersey. However, they intentionally set out to address the storms long-term physical and mental health repercussions of the storm.

The RWJF grants also went toward assisting Long-Term Recovery Groups and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice.  Get more information at RWJF by clicking Here.

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