Pioneering Ideas: Submitting a Brief Proposal

Throughout the year, we welcome Pioneering Idea Brief Proposals that can help us anticipate the future and consider new and unconventional perspectives and approaches to building a Culture of Health.

What is a pioneering idea? Good question. And the truth is we can’t fully define this for you. We are continually exploring in new ways and in new spaces and don’t want to provide a checklist that limits your thinking—or ours.

But we do want to give you as clear a picture as we can about the kinds of proposals we hope to see so you can best assess whether submitting an idea through our Pioneering Idea Brief Proposal process is the right next step for you.

We share some examples below of pioneering ideas we have funded in the past to give you a sense of where we’ve been. Take a look at those. But keep in mind that ultimately, we need you to challenge us, and to tell us where we should be going and what ideas have the most potential to transform the way we think about health.

To understand whether your idea or project might be a good fit for a Pioneering Idea Brief Proposal ask yourself these questions—some of the very same ones we ask ourselves as we seek new areas to explore and fund.

  • What assumptions or long-held cultural practices does your project challenge?
  • Do you take an existing idea and give it a new spin—or a novel application?
  • Are you creating new platforms or models?
  • How are you reframing or refocusing age-old questions?
  • Are you exploring the potential of cutting-edge ideas, new fields or emerging trends?
  • Do you take knowledge from one field or industry and apply it to another?

Here is a slideshow of some current pioneering RWJF grantees. (Please note: examples are not indications of future funding areas as we are always exploring new ideas.)

Okay, I’m in. I have a Pioneering Idea. What do I do next?

First thing you should do is visit the general FAQs about applying for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to understand basic requirements for receiving a grant and to learn more about the funding process.

Next, review this set of FAQs for Pioneering Idea Brief Proposal for more information on this specific funding opportunity and what happens once we receive your proposal.

Before you begin your application, you can preview a blank application to understand the kind of information and level of detail required at this stage.

All grant proposals submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—including the Pioneering Idea Brief Proposal—must be completed online. Begin the application process by submitting your brief proposal through the online application:

We look forward to learning about your pioneering idea.

Pioneering Ideas Podcast

Listen to RWJF's Pioneering Ideas podcast—for people interested in exploring cutting-edge ideas and emerging trends. We seek to inspire new thinking, spark “aha! moments” and cultivate rich, ongoing conversations. Join us each episode as we talk with leading thinkers in and outside of health and discover together new ways to build a Culture of Health. Tune in and subscribe.

How We Work

Lori Melichar explains our approach to finding innovative ideas.

How We Work

RWJF Director Lori Melichar discusses how the Foundation is looking for innovative ways to meet our nation's health challenges.

How We Work

RWJF Director Lori Melichar discusses how the Foundation is looking for innovative ways to meet our nation's health challenges.

What's Next Health

What’s Next Health: Conversations with Pioneers features leading thinkers to inspire us all to think big about the future of health and health care. Read on.