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As New Jersey Overdose Rates Soar and Disparities Deepen, Vital Strategies Releases $475,000 Opportunity for Community Groups to Address Racial Inequity and Promote Harm Reduction

As New Jersey Overdose Rates Soar and Disparities Deepen, Vital Strategies Releases $475,000 Opportunity for Community Groups to Address Racial Inequity and Promote Harm Reduction 

NEW JERSEY (January 9, 2023) — The United States is in the midst of the worst overdose crisis in its history. Nearly 108,000 lives were lost to overdose this past year, with fatal overdose rising sharply among Black Americans. New Jersey experienced more than 2,800 overdose deaths in 2022 alone, and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in overdose deaths across the state, further exacerbating racial disparities. 

To address the surge in overdose deaths in communities of color, public health organization Vital Strategies is providing grant funding to community-based organizations and partnerships led by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). The community-based projects will focus on advancing racial equity and harm reduction throughout the state of New Jersey and will address racial harms caused by discriminatory enforcement of drug laws. 

“As a direct result of the War on Drugs, Black, Indigenous , and people of color who use drugs are disproportionately denied access to health services available to white counterparts. Pervasive stigmatization, criminalization, and racism fuel harmful drug use and increase overdose rates,” said Lindsey Kerins, a program manager for the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “The grants we are announcing today are a targeted intervention to address that disparity. We know that the leadership of community-led organizations will be key to implementing evidence-based practices to address the harms associated with drug use and reduce fatal overdose in the hardest-hit communities in New Jersey.” 

To identify grant recipients, Vital Strategies is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP), with submissions due by February 9th, 2023. Five grantees will be awarded funding for one year to advance principles of harm reduction, destigmatizecommunity responses to people who use drugs, and promote racial justice and health equity. BIPOC-led organizations and mutual aid groups that are based in New Jersey and working with people who use drugs are encouraged to apply. Project objectives can include community training and education, community organizing and base-building, capacity building, direct service provision, and other innovative strategies. 

“Through these partnerships with community-led organizations, Vital Strategies hopes to aid in enhancing and expanding BIPOC-led harm reduction services while reducing overdoses among BIPOC communities in New Jersey,” said Kerins.  

The total funds allotted to this project is $475,000, which will be split amongst five grantees for funding up to $95,000 each. All RFP documents.

Vital Strategies will be hosting a webinar on January 23rd to discuss the RFP and the submission process for potential grantees. Registration for the webinar can be found here

About Vital Strategies   

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initiative builds on work of the previous three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million, and expands the work to promote improved federal policies. The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives.   

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat. 

Media Contact: 

Tony Newman:; 646-335-5384  
Gloria Malone: