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COVID-19 REsponseS

On May 1st, 2020, leaders from 110 religious congregations & non-profits across New Jersey sent a letter to Gov. Murphy, offering concrete ways they could be of assistance & pressing for actions in three specific areas.


The three specific proposals were:

  • Ensuring an equity lens around both contact tracing & testing as the state considers opening up (more specific principles here);

  • Investing $500 million in rent relief for families;

  • Stopping the suspension of driver's licenses for "failure to pay" and "failure to appear" & reigning in fines/fees at this time.


NJT leaders also met with Dr. Patricia Whitley Williams about the safety and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Please see more information below.

COViD-19 Vaccine Information & Distribution

On January 12, 2021, New Jersey Together leaders from across the state had a conversation with Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams about the safety & distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. More than 400 faith & non-profit leaders participated in this discussion.


Dr. Whitley-Williams is a professor at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the Department of Pediatrics. She is also Chief of the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases. She is a liaison member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Network for Immunization Information of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

In the past she served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Tuberculosis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Department of Health and Senior Services as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Pediatric AIDS. Dr. Whitley-Williams has participated in the development of the national guidelines for the reduction of perinatal HIV transmission as a member of the Department of Health and Senior Services/Public Health Service Perinatal HIV Guidelines Working Group. Her interests include pediatric HIV infection/AIDS, tuberculosis in children and childhood immunization.

Jersey city together:
remote learning Advocacy

Because of the pandemic, everything about how school worked changed in March 2020. The Education Team continued to listen to students, families, and other school stakeholders, and to reach out through our churches and other nonprofit organizations to bring more families into our work.


As part of this effort we did a survey of Jersey City parents with questions in English, Spanish and Arabic (click here to see findings we disseminated). We received 345 survey responses from a wide sample of Jersey City parents, representing 70 preschoolers, 239 primary students and 34 secondary students. The following three themes emerged from analysis and informed our advocacy: 


  1. Technology, Internet Connection, Tech Support. More than 25% of survey responses indicated that students did not have their own device to use for classwork. Our takeaway was we needed our students to each have a device, to be able to connect, and to feel supported in connecting from home, and we advocated for this with the district. 

  2. Regular virtual meetings - appropriately sized - are key. Parents (and students) responded positively to regular, consistent, smaller-group meetings with teachers; we advocated for this for the fall of 2020. Kids miss their teachers and their classmates, and when given a chance to connect, it helped not only academically but also socially and emotionally. The kids must feel like they can make a connection which means, now more than ever, class size matters. 

  3. Parents are concerned for the social and emotional health of their children. 78% of survey respondents said their child did not have access to a counselor. The current pandemic, resulting isolation, and feeling of disconnectedness is very real, with sadness being the most frequently reported student emotion. Our takeaway was that we needed to fight for sufficient social and emotional support. If we don't meet our children's physical and emotional needs, their academics will suffer.

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