Dedicated to eliminating the tragedy of sudden infant deaths

First Candle Announces Merger with CJ Foundation for SIDS to Become CJ First Candle

New organization is leading force in fight to eliminate SIDS, SUID and stillbirth

Media Contact:
Karen Sackowitz
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
978-697-3845 call or text

CJ First Candle logoNEW CANAAN, CT, January 17, 2017 – First Candle and CJ Foundation for SIDS, two national nonprofit organizations dedicated to reducing the rate of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) and Stillbirth, announced today that they have merged. The newly-combined organization is called “CJ First Candle.”

The merger brings together two organizations with a decades-long relationship and creates a dynamic entity to further expand upon the common goal of eliminating SIDS, SUID and preventable Stillbirths. The headquarters for the newly-formed organization is located in New Canaan, CT.
Alison Jacobson, executive director and CEO of First Candle, will continue in this capacity at CJ First Candle. Joel and Susan Hollander, who founded their organization in memory of their daughter, Carly Jenna, will remain involved in the organization. Joel will serve as co-chairman of the board along with Dave Cunningham. Susan will take on the role of on-staff consultant to help with the transition, working on research and support service grants as well as fundraising events.     
“I’ve personally known and admired the Hollanders since my son Connor died from SIDS in 1997,” said Ms. Jacobson. “I’m so impressed with how they’ve built this wonderful organization and helped so many families throughout the United States. I’m honored to lead CJ First Candle into the next chapter for both organizations and to move even further educating more families and caregivers while also supporting those who have lost a baby.”
Formed in 1993 as “SIDS Alliance” and renamed “First Candle” in 2002, the organization works to create and drive educational programs emphasizing safe sleep practices for parents, caregivers, health professionals, and childcare providers. It also supports families who have suffered a loss, who want to memorialize a child, or who have channeled their grief into fundraising events and efforts. Since its inception the organization has been instrumental in influencing and changing the way millions of parents and caregivers place their baby to sleep – first through the successful “Back to Sleep” campaign and more recently through the “Safe to Sleep” campaign.
The initiatives of both organizations were pivotal in reducing the rate of SIDS in the United States by more than 50 percent since 1994, notes Ms. Jacobson.
CJ Foundation is a highly-regarded organization formed in 1994 by the Hollanders in memory of their daughter, Carly Jenna, who died from SIDS in 1993. Over the past 23 years the organization has raised millions of dollars for SIDS research. CJ Foundation also funds bereavement support programs for families, education initiatives and public awareness campaigns nationwide.
“Susan and I had a conversation in early 2016 which revealed such strong similarities, both in passion for our cause and vision for the future,” says Ms. Jacobson. “First Candle has long admired the incredible work of CJ Foundation and I am thrilled at the prospect of what we will achieve together going forward.”
“Alison and I have worked tirelessly to create a new organization that will best utilize the strengths of both CJ Foundation and First Candle,” adds Ms. Hollander, who served as president of CJ Foundation. “By combining our expertise in grant programs, education, advocacy and family support, we are even better positioned to work toward the elimination of SIDS, SUID and preventable Stillbirth.”
“We are so proud of the work we have done,” said Mr. Hollander. “SIDS deaths in the United States were well over 7,000 per year when the CJ Foundation began, an all-time high. They’ve declined about 50 percent since. With Alison’s leadership of CJ First Candle we are confident that these numbers will be lower still.”
Dr. Hannah Kinney of Boston Children’s Hospital and one of the premier researchers in the area of SIDS and SUID strongly supports this merger. “I am very excited about the merger of two great organizations, both dedicated to the fight against mortality in early life: the CJ Foundation and First Candle--now to be known as CJ First Candle going forward. These two wonderful groups have always worked together to lead the fight, but now they are joined hand in hand in this important endeavor, creating the largest lay organization waging the battle against sudden childhood death in early life.  I applaud the far-reaching vision of the two organizations to join in their shared goals, and I know that this merger will create a great force in our effort. I look forward to the unified impact of CJ First Candle upon the eradication of all early childhood mortality, including stillbirth and SIDS,” states Dr. Kinney.
CJ First Candle’s new website will be live by the end of this month. Bereavement support is available immediately by calling 1-800-221-SIDS.

About First Candle

First Candle is an organization dedicated to preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Stillbirth and miscarriage. Through its fundraising and program initiatives, First Candle strives to educate parents, grandparents, daycare providers and other caregivers on safe sleep measures; support researchers; work with nurses and hospitals to educate new parents on safe sleep; and provide support to grieving families.

About CJ Foundation for SIDS

The CJ Foundation is the leading national non-profit dedicated to research and education that supports baby wellness. Its priority is the health and survival of all babies through their first year of life. The Foundation provides a supportive environment for grieving families who have suffered a loss. Through research and educational programs CJ Foundation strives to eliminate the tragedy of SIDS and SUID.

A Letter from the Directors of the CJ Foundation for SIDS

For more information, please see a letter from the Directors, Susan Hollander and Joel Hollander.

About Us In the News First Candle Announces Merger with CJ Foundation for SIDS to Become CJ First Candle