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Governor Phil Murphy

This Week in NJ - May 10th, 2024


Governor Murphy Announces Fintech Accelerator in Hoboken

Governor Phil Murphy announced that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley-based firm and innovation platform known for connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, and government agencies, have launched an accelerator hub known as the Fintech Accelerator at Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ FAST). FAST is the first location on the East Coast for Plug and Play, which has partnerships around the globe.

The Strategic Innovation Center (SIC) will serve as a hub for financial technology (fintech) and insurance technology (insuretech) startups. Stevens Institute of Technology will serve as the founding academic partner and Prudential Financial will serve as the founding corporate partner for NJ FAST.

“Serving as the fourth Strategic Innovation Center, NJ FAST positions New Jersey to remain at the forefront of innovation, research, and development, specifically within the cutting-edge fintech and insuretech sectors,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “NJ FAST will allow for new entrepreneurs to bring their world-class ideas to New Jersey, further increasing our state’s inherently impressive talent pool, all while capitalizing on the resources and expertise of our partners at Stevens Institute of Technology. Our partnership with Plug and Play sends a clear message that when it comes to technology and innovation, the Garden State is the place to be.”

The NJEDA and Plug and Play have signed a non-binding letter of intent to form a limited partnership known as NJ FAST. The two entities will oversee NJ FAST’s accelerator program with an opportunity to make equity investments into select participating companies. The program will host two cohorts a year, which will consist of at least 10 companies per cohort. Companies will be recruited globally to participate in the program, but at least 20 percent of the cohort will be from New Jersey and there will be a strong focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Equity investments of up to $1 million will be made in at least 15 percent of participating companies.

Pending approval by its Board, the NJEDA intends to invest up to $17.5 million in the fintech accelerator.

“Since taking office, Governor Murphy has prioritized growing New Jersey’s innovation economy by ensuring that the companies of the future have access to first-rate resources and support as entrepreneurs grow and scale their business,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Powered by NJEDA’s Strategic Innovation Center program, NJFAST aims to make New Jersey a national leader in fintech and insuretech by supporting innovation, which will help empower startups and drive the creation of new technologies that in turn will create jobs and support long-term, sustainable economic growth across the state.”


First Lady Tammy Murphy Hosts 20th Family Festival in Elizabeth

First Lady Tammy Murphy hosted a Nurture NJ Family Festival in Elizabeth, connecting over 3,500 families with essential state, county, and local resources including services for expectant and new moms, health care, housing support, food assistance, child care and more. The gathering marked the 20th successful Family Festival hosted by the First Lady since 2018, when the inaugural event took place in Paterson. The Family Festival event series targets cities with high rates of Black and Hispanic infant mortality and over the past six years has connected over 12,350 mothers, fathers, grandparents and anyone else involved in taking care of a child with resources in a fun atmosphere —essentially creating a one-stop shop for care, support, resources and relief.

“As we reach the milestone of our 20th Nurture NJ Family Festival hosted statewide, I am so proud of the work we have achieved together in just over six years,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Thanks to our many dedicated partners, many of whom have been with us since our first festival in 2018, thousands of New Jersey families have been able to access services and resources necessary to house, feed, nurture and otherwise support their children in the most essential ways.”

“Bringing these resources directly into the communities most in need is one of the most commonsense ways we can support our families and improve maternal and infant health. I look forward to continuing to host these festivals across our state as we simultaneously implement a wide variety of innovative initiatives and elevate New Jersey’s quality of maternal and infant health care for all mothers and babies. Our work does not stop until New Jersey is the gold standard for maternal and infant health care and the safest and most equitable state in the nation to deliver and raise a baby,” continued the First Lady.

Nearly 66 percent of Elizabeth’s residents are Hispanic or Latino and there are an estimated 47,000 undocumented immigrants, 36 percent of whom have lived in the United States for 15 years or more. New Jersey’s Maternal Mortality Report for the years 2016-2018 showed that Hispanic mothers were three and a half times more likely to die of maternity-related complications than white mothers, and according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate for Hispanic babies is nearly one and a half times that of white babies. Elizabeth ranks in the top ten of New Jersey’s cities with the highest rates of Black and Hispanic infant mortality. Over 15 percent of people live in poverty, compared to 9.7 percent of all people in NJ, and over 25 percent of people in Elizabeth under the age of 65 are without health insurance, compared with only 6.8 percent in New Jersey residents overall.


Murphy Administration Awards $2 Million in Teacher Climate and Culture Innovation Grants

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced the award of nearly $2 million in grant funding designed to enhance teacher climate and culture by supporting districts in developing and implementing strategies to reclaim teacher time. The grants will aid districts in reducing administrative paperwork and streamlining other tasks that pull educators away from the classroom. Eighteen school districts are being awarded Teacher Climate and Culture Innovation Grants, established as a key recommendation of Governor Murphy’s Task Force on Public School Staff Shortages.

“Teachers have one of the most important and challenging jobs in our society, playing an integral role in the lives of young learners and setting them on course for lifelong success. Doing our part to uplift our educator workforce not only signals our appreciation of their hard work, but it also directly benefits our students,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This grant program is yet another innovative measure to combat burnout in the teaching profession, allowing educators to focus their time and attention on what matters most – educating and inspiring the next generation.” 

“We know that in order to attract and retain quality teachers, we need to help school districts foster a positive climate and culture in the workplace,” said Kevin Dehmer, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Our goal is to work with school districts to discover those practices that can reduce administrative bureaucracies, streamline operations, and give educators more time to focus their efforts where they can have the greatest impact: the classroom.”

The Teacher Climate and Culture Innovation Grant Program will support schools with efforts such as:

  • Developing policies and procedures designed to streamline administratively burdensome aspects of the teacher-evaluation process;
  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence technology to assist with functions such as outside communications and lesson planning;
  • Creating a “library” of ready-made instructional materials and model lesson plans that other teachers can readily access, thereby reducing the time educators spend exploring and researching such materials for their lessons; and
  • Moving away from weekly lesson planning, where teachers submit lesson plans every week for an administrator’s review, toward submitting unit plans that achieve the same goal but may be submitted every several weeks instead.

NJEDA Board Approves MOU to Purchase Land in Downtown Trenton for Future Maternal and Infant Health and Innovation Center

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Trenton Board of Education (BOE) and the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA) to purchase property in downtown Trenton as the future home of the Maternal and Infant Health and Innovation Center (MIHIC). This is a critical step in establishing the Center, which is a central component to First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative. The Center will serve as a hub for stakeholders committed to eliminating racial disparities and advancing maternal and infant health equity in the state.

Last month, the NJEDA Board approved Capital Health, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and Trenton Health Team to serve as the Center’s anchor tenants, where they will work collaboratively to provide services to address issues related to maternal and infant health in Trenton and across New Jersey.

The MIHIC is being developed by the NJEDA, in partnership with First Lady Tammy Murphy, and the Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority (MIHIA), which will oversee day-to-day operations of the Center.

“From its conception, this Center has been imagined as a fully three-dimensional approach to addressing our incredibly complex maternal and infant health crisis, and I am truly heartened to see this vision becoming reality,” said First Lady Murphy. “The Maternal and Infant Health and Innovation Center will provide critical maternal health services to the mothers of the Trenton community, serve as a hub for research and innovation, and create career pathways and training opportunities for Trenton students. Further, building this Center at the Battle Monument Site which is an easily accessible location for our community partners reaffirms our commitment to centering the residents of Trenton first and foremost. This is an exciting next step in the development of the Center, and I look forward to continuing our work together with our partners as we bring high quality services to Trenton.”

The MOU will allow for the NJEDA to purchase land next to the historic Battle Monument site, located at the southwest corner of Pennington Avenue and Warren Street in Trenton, which is currently owned by the BOE. The site in the North Trenton – Battle Monument neighborhood was identified through community engagement efforts and was prioritized due to its easy accessibility for community residents, safety, and close proximity to community resources such as Henry J. Austin Health Center and Greater Mount Zion AME Church


Lieutenant Governor Way and Secretary of Higher Education Brian K. Bridges Announce Free, 24/7/365 Digital Mental Health Services Secured for New Jersey College Students Through April 2026

During Mental Health Awareness Month, Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way and Secretary of Higher Education Brian K. Bridges, Ph.D., announced New Jersey college students will have free, 24/7/365 access to teletherapy, crisis connection and wellness programming through the remainder of the Murphy Administration. Launched one year ago, the state’s first-in-the-nation partnership with mental health and wellness platform, Uwill, currently serves students at 45 eligible institutions of higher education in New Jersey who opted into the partnership.

“There is no question that young people have been facing a mental health crisis for some time – the causes of which are multi-faceted and include everything from the rise of social media, to increased academic pressures, the impact of the pandemic, and much, much more. While we are still at the beginning of our fight to strengthen youth mental health, I am incredibly proud of the serious way our administration has approached this issue,” said Lieutenant Governor Way. “Today’s announcement that we have secured additional funding for New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation partnership with Uwill continues to demonstrate the Governor’s commitment and leadership on youth mental health. With this program, we are ensuring college students who are struggling will have access to mental health support services 24/7/365 days a year.”

“We affirm that mental health is a key determinant of any student’s success and that safe, empowered access to care can make all the difference in seeking out support,” said Secretary Bridges. “That’s why our statewide efforts have worked to complement the best of what our institutions already offer through in-person counseling and wellness centers with opportunities that expand their reach and help to meet students where they are and at whatever stage in their mental health journey. The announcement today advances our steadfast commitment to cultivating stronger well-being on campus and better life and educational outcomes for all students pursuing a degree or credential in the Garden State.”

As of April, over 10,000 students have registered on Uwill's digital platform and have scheduled nearly 32,000 sessions with the diverse network of licensed and qualified mental health providers available.