A challenge for philanthropy is balancing two opposing approaches to grantmaking. The first emphasizes multipronged efforts at solving a problem through focused and coordinated portfolios of grants. This more centralized approach usually requires a high degree of involvement by a foundation's staff in the design of programs. The second approach is to listen to the field and respond to ideas that flow from potential grantees. This approach encourages local solutions to local problems.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation primarily follows the more centralized approach, at least in its national programs. However, even when the Foundation determines the area that it plans to fund, it seeks to incorporate locally generated ideas by inviting local agencies to send ideas for projects they think are important.
The Local Initiative Funding Partners Program falls squarely in the camp of bottom-up grantmaking. It is a collaborative effort between local foundations and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where both partners fund worthy projects developed at the local level.