Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities

New Recommendations from the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America

In 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) convened the Commission to Build a Healthier America to help us find better ways to improve the health of our nation. The Commission—a national, nonpartisan group of leaders from both the public and private sectors—issued  10 sweeping recommendations aimed at improving the health of all Americans.

The Commission’s work sparked a national conversation that has led to a marked increase in collaboration among a wide variety of partners aimed at addressing the many determinants of health. Eager to build upon this progress, RWJF asked the Commissioners to come together again. This year, the Commission tackled immensely complex matters that underlie profound differences in the health of Americans: experiences in early childhood; opportunities that communities provide for people to make healthy choices; and the mission and incentives of health professionals and health care institutions.

They found that to improve the health of all Americans we must:

  • Invest in the foundations of lifelong physical and mental well-being in our youngest children
  • Create communities that foster health-promoting behaviors
  • Broaden health care to promote health outside of the medical system

Explore the recommendations below

To request a print version of the executive summary or the full report (please specify), please contact creativerequests@rwjf.org.

Charts & Graphics

Charts & Graphics

Tools from the recommendations report illustrate the need for action and how promising programs are improving health across the nation.

Explore the charts and graphics
Recommendations Event

Recommendations Event

On January 13, 2014, the Commission released recommendations for a healthier America during a live online event broadcasted from Washington, D.C.

Watch the event video

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

Recommendation 1

Make investing in America’s youngest children a high priority. This will require a significant shift in spending priorities and major new initiatives to ensure that families and communities build a strong foundation in the early years for a lifetime of good health.

  • Create stronger quality standards for early childhood development programs, link funding to program quality, and guarantee access by funding enrollment for all low-income children under age 5 in programs meeting these standards by 2025. 
  • Help parents who struggle to provide healthy, nurturing experiences for their children.
  • Invest in research and innovation. Evaluation research will ensure that all early childhood programs are based on the best available evidence. Innovation will catalyze the design and testing of new intervention strategies to achieve substantially greater impacts than current best practices.

Read about Recommendation 1 in the report

#CBHA2014 Recommendation: Invest in early childhood for a lifetime of good health.

Prioritizing Early Childhood Development

Investing in the youngest Americans will lay a foundation for a lifetime of good health. Hear from experts and innovators on programs that may make a substantial impact for years to come.

Recommendation 2

Fundamentally change how we revitalize neighborhoods, fully integrating health into community development.

  • Support and speed the integration of finance, health, and community development to revitalize neighborhoods and improve health.
  • Establish incentives and performance measures to spur collaborative approaches to building healthy communities. 
  • Replicate promising, integrated models for creating more resilient, healthier communities. Invest in innovation.

Read about Recommendation 2 in the report

#CBHA2014 Recommendation: Integrate health into community development

Linking Community Development and Health

The health and community development sectors can be a powerful force -- if they work together. Watch Commissioners and leading experts discuss how to create communities that foster healthy choices, and see promising examples from across the US.

Recommendation 3 

The nation must take a much more health-focused approach to health care financing and delivery. Broaden the mindset, mission, and incentives for health professionals and health care institutions from treating illness to helping people lead healthy lives.

  • Adopt new health “vital signs” to assess non-medical indicators for health.
  • Create incentives tied to reimbursement for health professionals and health care institutions to address non-medical factors that affect health.
  • Incorporate non-medical health measures into community health needs assessments.

Read about Recommendation 3 in the report

#CBHA2014 Recommendation: Create incentives so health care can help people lead healthy lives.

Connecting Health and Health Care

Health care systems are looking beyond their walls to improve the health of their patients. See how Kaiser Permanente and the Medical-Legal Partnership are taking on the charge.

Taking Action

All of us have a role to play in creating a healthier nation.

From individuals and community organizers,to businesses, investors and community developers, to education leaders and policymakers, we all have a stake in a healthy America.

See how you can take action

Time to act to improve our nation's health. New #CBHA2014 recommendations point the way.

It's Time to Act

Commissioner Rev. Eileen Lindner challenges us all to take what we have learned and bring it back to our communities to create a greater culture of health for all Americans.

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