The Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund (MEL JIF) insures over 60% of New Jersey municipalities, making it one of the largest municipal property-casualty pools in the country. Desiring to foster a community-wide focus on public safety, they formed the MEL Safety Institute to provide online and classroom-based training to all New Jersey municipal officials and employees, even those who are not members of the MEL JIF. 

In early 2020, New Jersey municipalities were already facing serious cyber security threats and growing public concern about sexual and workplace misconduct along with new legislation significantly increasing the potential liability of public officials, and educational programs were being developed by MEL JIF to address these issues. Then COVID-19 struck, driving an immediate need for pandemic safety education just as it caused a major disruption in the classroom-based programs that served half of the 53,000 enrolled employees. 

In this context, the MSI Safety Institute teamed with Princeton Strategic Communications to respond with an aggressive, full-time effort to develop and significantly expand the delivery of online training and technical support needed by MEL JIF members to sustain their safety and technical training programs, despite the absence of classroom-based programs. 


Objective: Increase overall engagement through a broader range of CEU-eligible essential training opportunities to all New Jersey municipal officials and employees in their home communities starting in 2020 and continuing throughout the pandemic while increasing enrollment, decreasing Lost Time Accident Frequency, and attracting new member municipalities. 

  • Step 1: Convert key classroom programs to online formats, secure state approval for them to be CEU-eligible, test and approve the use of an online platform, and train MSI instructors in the new formats. 
  • Step 2: Design and produce a series of live and pre-recorded Zoom webinars featuring expert panelists for virtual gatherings. 
  • Step 3: Professionally produce special educational video programs following a MasterClass style format.
  • Step 4: Create the MSI NOW College, an on-demand digital streaming video service.
  • Step 5: Design and print a handbook for distribution to homes and offices.  
  • Step 6: Design and build a new mobile-friendly stand-alone MEL Safety Institute website to house a catalog of legacy and newly produced content launched in early 2021. 
  • Step 7: Use a recently created MEL mobile app for push notifications to Android and Apple mobiles devices. 


  • Over 40 classroom training programs were converted to instructor-led webinars.
  • 30 online safety training programs were developed and made available 24/7 to members. These programs can be accessed on an individual basis. Most of the courses are self-directed, about 1/2 hour in length, and include a short concluding quiz. 
  • Panel discussions were scripted and recorded on Zoom, then edited for presentation at the virtual League of Municipalities in November of 2020 and 2021. 
  • Two special MasterClass-style videos were produced entitled “Protecting Children” and “Building a Safe Workspace: Anti-Bullying and Harassment.”
  • MSI NOW was developed in 2020 and launched  with more than 185 videos covering safety, risk management and employment practices. 
  • 7,500 copies of a 234-page handbook entitled “The Power of Collaboration,” which was produced in-house and mailed directly to municipal offices and employee homes by the end of 2020 and early 2021.
  • was launched in March of 2021 as a stand-alone 661-page website with a complete catalog of educational programs. All video content was required to be hosted on secure servers rather than on social media. 
  • In 2021, 83 push notifications and alerts were regularly delivered to mobile users on 21 essential issues, including management of specific challenges caused by the pandemic. 

EVALUATION (Goals and Results):

  • Increase engagement through enhanced educational content on multiple platforms:
    • Two videos received more viewership than any other educational content in MEL JIF history:
      • “Protecting Children from Abuse” seminar and video views from 2020-2021: 16,087
      • “Building a Safe Workplace: Anti-Harassment and Discrimination” views from 2020-21: 12,067
    • launched in March of 2021 as stand-alone website from attracted 15,595 users for 36,154 sessions and 155K views, even while increased its sessions over 2020 by 18%. 
    • The handbook was well received, requiring an update and re-print in 2022. 
    • MEL mobile app downloads increased from 2,141 in 2020 to 3,120 in 2021.
  • Increased enrollment in educational programs: from 53,435 in 2019 to 66,500 in 2021
  • Increase MEL JIF membership: Five additional municipalities joined NJ MEL in 2021.