Inside Horizon's Antiobesity Fight in New Jersey

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that we are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic. The possibility that one in five American children could be classified as obese by 2020 is one of a long list of dire predictions regarding this health issue.

The fight against child obesity is naturally a top funding priority among health philanthropists. For example, as part of its commitment to tackle child obesity in New Jersey, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey recently awarded a significant grant of $3.45 million to New Jersey YMCA State Alliance to expand the award-winning Healthy U initiative to 15 schools over the next two years. With this expansion, Healthy U can reach more than 40,000 children across New Jersey.

So what exactly is Healthy U? Healthy U is an antiobesity after-school program that was originally established in 2008. It addresses all the usual items relating to healthy behaviors — such as a nutritious diet and increased physical activity in children aged 3 to 13. Healthy U is taught in a fun way and engages parents to reinforce healthy behaviors. It uses the nationally recognized CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum, which is an evidence-based program developed in 1992.

The grantee, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance ("the Y"), is a leading nonprofit committed to the promotion of healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. Childhood obesity prevention is a major focus of its work.

The grantmaker, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, is the philanthropist arm of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Founded in 2004, the foundation funds health and wellness projects (as well as arts initiatives) in the state of New Jersey. Horizon gives out roughly $3.5 million a year, and obesity is one of its health-related funding priorities. Others include asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental health, health literacy, childhood immunizations, and the development of outdoor community areas that promote health and well-being.

The Horizon Foundation welcomes unsolicited applications, which are reviewed four times a year. If you are a New Jersey-based nonprofit specializing in childhood obesity prevention or any of the above-mentioned areas, Horizon is a local funder worth considering. Further details can be found here.