Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Marks 40 Years: Board Approves Over $400 Million for Improving Health in 2013

    • November 1, 2012

Princeton, N.J.—The Board of Trustees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy focused exclusively on improving U.S. health and health care, marked its 40th anniversary this week by announcing that Foundation leaders have approved up to $425 million in grantmaking during 2013. Funding will be focused in three interrelated areas: increasing efforts that help people stay healthy; lowering national health care costs; and improving access to high-quality care, delivered by a diverse and abundant workforce. 

RWJF intends to award funds in 2013 to hundreds of organizations working to improve health nationally and in dozens of targeted communities. Since its inception in 1972, the Foundation has awarded more than $9 billion in grants, with grantees located in every state in the country.

“Robert Wood Johnson’s legacy is one of tremendous service and incredible foresight in addressing the most pressing challenges facing the health of all Americans,” said former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, chairman of RWJF’s Board of Trustees. “Decades after he made plans for his foundation’s work, we remain firmly rooted as one of the nation’s most reliable, responsive and enduring social institutions. I believe we’re doing exactly what both the public and private sector needs us to do to improve health and health care in America.”

RWJF’s contributions to U.S. health care are vast. Work supported by the Foundation in previous decades directly contributed to forging the nation’s 911 emergency system, the landmark Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, dramatic reductions in the use of tobacco products, and changed perceptions about options such as hospice care at the end of life.

“Whatever issues are the most vexing—responding to AIDS, an unprecedented shortage of nurses, millions of children being uninsured, astounding racial inequalities in health care—these are the issues we’ve taken on,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We cannot accept our responsibility as America’s largest health care philanthropy if we run from the toughest problems.”

RWJF was formed in 1972 after the death of Robert Wood Johnson II, former chairman of Johnson & Johnson. Its initial funding was roughly $1.2 billion. Today RWJF has an endowment of roughly $9 billion. Due to prudent financial management, the Foundation enjoys the same ‘buying power’ in 2012 as it did at its inception.

Significant grantmaking in 2012 has included efforts to:

Improve care for chronically ill people living in rural areasProject ECHO enables primary care providers and medical specialists to work together regardless of where each is located. Virtual clinics, similar to the grand rounds of major teaching hospitals, educate doctors in remote locales on the latest medical research and treatments.

Raise the overall quality of careAligning Forces for Quality is quantifiably lifting the overall quality of health care in 16 targeted communities, as well as reducing racial and ethnic disparities and providing locally tested models for broader reforms.

Create future health care leaders—The RWJF Clinical Scholars program has provided postdoctoral training for more than 1,100 young physicians interested in research and leadership careers in health policy and academic medicine.

Make neighborhoods healthy and safe—RWJF’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program helps every county in America make it easier for people to be healthy in their own communities, focusing on specific factors that evidence shows affect health.

Reverse the obesity epidemic—RWJF’s efforts to reduce and prevent childhood obesity help all children and families eat well and move more, especially those in communities at highest risk.

Better understand health and health systems—The Dartmouth Atlas Project documents variations in how medical resources are distributed and used nationwide. This research helps policy-makers and health care analysts improve health and health care systems across America.

Ensure America’s primary care needs are metFuture of Nursing: Campaign for Action is an initiative to advance comprehensive health care change. It envisions a nation where all Americans have access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a health care system where nurses contribute as essential partners in achieving success.

Re-imagine long-term care—The Green House Concept is turning traditional views of long-term care inside out. It establishes small houses for long-term care needs, rather than the large-scale institutions traditionally associated with nursing homes. The program has quickly expanded to 137 houses.

“Our future grantmaking aims to tackle America’s current health challenges head on,” said Lavizzo-Mourey. “We won’t succeed on every front—no one does—but the lessons we learn will inform future solutions. That’s the role of 21st century philanthropists. We look at what no one else seems able or willing to do, and we give it a shot.”

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook.


Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937