Synopsis of Work: Shortly after its establishment as a national philanthropy in 1972, RWJF made an effort to encourage local foundations to develop primary health care centers in their communities. The effort, however, was not uniformly well-received. RWJF staff decided that the Foundation's efforts would prove be better received if RWJF were to make money available. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships (February 1987 through August 2011) provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations.
Wilmington, N.C.'s Lakeside High School Wellness Center helps young people deal with the physical and psychosocial difficulties of life at home and school.
The Wellness Center—a source of more comprehensive services than available at the typical school nurse's office—is a satellite operation of Wilmington Health Access for Teens, a nonprofit health facility for youth that opened in 1997 with the help of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships grant.
Story Told: Had there been no Local Funding Partnerships program, the Wilmington community would have developed the health center anyway—but more slowly and with greater difficulty, according to the executive director of Wilmington Health Access for Teens.
The RWJF grant gave the fledging organization the financial freedom to concentrate on program implementation, additional fund raising and service expansion, she says.
Also, RWJF's support increased the credibility of the undertaking, making it easier to attract additional funding from other sources. "We would not have been able to be what we are [today] without RWJF. No way," she says.
In addition to opening the satellite Wellness Center at Lakeside High in 1999 (a step taken with state funds), Wilmington Health Access for Teens in 2002 completed a major expansion of its central health facility, almost tripling the square footage.