Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Supports 12 State and Local Efforts to Improve Health

Grantees working with community partners to address impact of employment, education and other factors that affect health.

    • November 8, 2011

Twelve coalitions across the United States have been awarded Roadmaps to Health Community Grants of up to $200,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve the health of people living in those communities. The grants, which will support two-year state and local efforts among policy-makers, business, education, health care, public health and community organizations, will be managed by Community Catalyst and are part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration of RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

“These projects are really exciting for two reasons: first, they are truly collaborations among diverse community partners who bring expertise, relationships and resources to improve people’s health; and second, that in addition to health behaviors such as smoking and diet, they are focused on factors such as education, family relationships and income that heavily influence our health and quality of life,” said James S. Marks, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Group at RWJF.

Having health insurance and quality health care are important—but we know that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office. The grantees will build on the RWJF/UWPHI County Health Rankings model, which highlights the critical role that factors such as education, jobs and our environment play in influencing how healthy people are and how long they live. The Roadmaps to Health grantees are working to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play. Taken together, the Rankings and action of the Roadmaps to Health grantees are a way of solving our nation’s health crisis.

In addition to the Community Grants, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program will include other efforts to mobilize local communities and national partners and leaders, including grants to national organizations to activate local leaders and affiliates to improve health; a prize program to recognize communities taking action whose promising efforts will lead to better health; and, tools and resources to help groups working to improve the health of their communities.

The 12 Roadmaps to Health projects selected as grantees were chosen from more than 300 initial applicants. The grantees will build consensus for and implement policy and systems changes that address the factors that we know are connected to health—education, income and employment, community safety and social connectedness. In Alameda County (Calif.), efforts will make more consumer-focused banking services available to residents of low-income neighborhoods and will also educate residents about the health and economic benefits of these services, such as using bank accounts without minimum balance requirements, instead of check-cashing or bill-payment services with fees. A project in Kentucky will build state-wide support for tax policies that will help low-income families in that state retain more of their income—money that can then be spent on health improvements, like regular doctor’s visits, healthier diets, and weight-loss or smoking cessation services. In New Mexico, the focus will be on efforts to prepare all children in the state equally for academic, health, and economic success by advocating for policies that create, fund and sustain a high-quality, universally accessible continuum of early childhood care, health, and education services. Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization, will use its expertise and successful advocacy framework of coalition building, grassroots mobilization, policy research analysis, campaign design and implementation, and communications to help each grantee group achieve results, including policy and systemic changes.

Detailed descriptions of all 12 grant recipients are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measureable and timely change. For nearly 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute is the focal point within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for translating public health and health policy research into policy and practice. The Institute strives to:

  • Address a broad range of real world problems of topical importance to government, business, providers, and the public;
  • Promote partnerships of inquiry between researchers and users of research, breaking down barriers between the academic community and public and private sector policy-makers;
  • Advance the development of interdisciplinary research, along the spectrum from public health to health care;
  • Provide continuing education for practitioners and opportunities for applied learning for graduate and medical students; and
  • Make useful contributions to public health and health policy decisions that improve the health of the public.

For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu.

About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to improve the health of communities and to change the health care system so it serves everyone. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Read or comment on our blog at http://blog.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.