The CJ Foundation was founded in 1994 by Joel and Susan Hollander in memory of their daughter, Carly Jenna, who died from SIDS in 1993. Realizing there was a need for research into the cause(s) of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), support for grieving parents, and education about the newly created Back to Sleep campaign (now known as the Safe to Sleep campaign), it was evident that this would be the Foundation’s main role: to provide funding to make a difference in these areas. The grant program was established and within the first year of its existence, the Foundation awarded grants for research, bereavement support, education initiatives and public awareness campaigns to worthy institutions and organizations across the country.
It wasn’t long after the Foundation’s inception that it became known as a leader in the SIDS arena. Other opportunities to make an impact quickly presented themselves and the Foundation became more than a grantor. As research indicated that risk reduction was possible, the CJ Foundation implemented its own education program including: the development of a national public awareness campaign, Face Up to Wake Up, in major US cities; creation and distribution of educational materials; development of an educational resource kit specific to the American Indian/Alaska Native populations; and presentations at national conferences for healthcare providers, childcare providers and educators. The need for standardized autopsies and cause of death classifications led to advocacy work at both the state and federal level. The ongoing needs of grieving families resulted in the development and distribution of bereavement materials, online support, and the hosting of national conferences for families to gather and share their grief and learn about research projects and findings.
Through these activities and the grant program, which remains an integral part of the Foundation, millions of dollars have been allocated in the fight to eliminate SIDS, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), and Other Sleep-Related Infant Death. To this day, the Foundation remains the largest non-government funder of programs addressing SIDS and SUID.