A Letter from Our Principal Investigator:

The New Jersey State Policy Lab was created as the result of a grant from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) in April 2021. At the age of two and a half, it is an odd time for us to be issuing an “annual report.” But as our report below shows, we’ve been busy! It is only recently that we have staffed up to the level that we can spend some time reflecting on what we have done and looking toward the future. This report will mainly focus on the former of those tasks with a touch of the latter.

The Lab was formed with the intent of being an independent evidence-based entity that focused on policy issues relevant to the State of New Jersey. We particularly (but not exclusively) focus on issues that most prominently impact our disadvantaged populations. Throughout our first two and a half years, our primary means of producing research has been funding a diverse array of scholars around New Jersey to do research in policy areas that interest them. These include academics on all three Rutgers campuses and at other universities in New Jersey.

These scholars have authored 29 reports. The issues covered by these reports are wide-ranging and include education, environment, health, housing, transportation, and the state economy among many others. A few representative report titles give you an idea of the breadth of the work we have funded.

There is so much great work going on in our institutions of higher learning, and it has been a pleasure to fund, nurture, and highlight some of it particularly relevant to improving the lives of New Jerseyans. Just this past month, we announced ten more projects that we are funding for the year ahead.

Now that we’ve gotten our feet underneath us, we also plan to expand the work done internally by the lab itself. This work will primarily fall in three areas. We aim to become a leading voice in forecasting and analyzing the state economy. We will continue our work in the field of education policy working particularly closely with the State DOE. Finally, as access to government services becomes increasingly dependent on technology, we will champion analysis of issues related to access to digital resources in a digital equity initiative. We hope to do all of this in addition to continuing to fund exciting work across the state on a variety of policy issues.

As I noted above, it’s been a busy two and a half years. Please enjoy the report below to get an idea of what we have been up to and I’m sure you will find something relevant to your area of interest. And keep in mind, we are just getting started.

Stuart Shapiro

Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Principal Investigator New Jersey State Policy Lab