National Programs: Understanding the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Approach to Grantmaking

Chapter 7

In this chapter of To Improve Health and Health Care, Volume XV, Robert Hughes, a former vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation talks about the Foundation's national program model. Anybody trying to understand how the  Foundation operates needs to appreciate the national program model. Since the Foundation’s early years, the model has been the mainstay of the way that the it develops and implements its national programs, that is, those that test ideas in a number of sites. About two-thirds of the Foundation’s program expenditures have been for national programs. National program offices have traditionally provided program leadership, implementation, technical assistance, some of the Foundation’s grant oversight, and communications.

As Hughes notes in the reprint from Volume VIII of the Anthology, outsourcing these functions has allowed the Foundation to keep a relatively small staff and to involve prestigious leaders in the field in its efforts.  Although there has been a reduction in the number of national programs, they remain an important part of the Foundation’s work and are key to understanding how the Foundation and its grantees develop and implement programs.