Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant Helps the Y Expand Efforts to Reduce Childhood Obesity

    • February 6, 2013

Chicago – YMCA of the USA, the resource office for the nation’s 2,700 YMCAs, received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to help deliver on its commitment to reducing childhood obesity. The grant, totaling $7.8 million over two years, enables the Y to expand its Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) initiative from six states to an additional 14 states.

Launched in 2009 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Statewide PHC addresses the childhood obesity epidemic through policy and environmental changes at the community and state level. The Y convenes state and community leaders to work together to implement strategies that support healthy living.

“The Y and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have a mutual commitment to ensuring our nation’s children grow to be healthy, happy and strong,” said YMCA of the USA President and Chief Executive Officer Neil Nicoll. “Our work together over the past three years has resulted in community- and state-level changes that will help children and their families live healthier lives for years to come. We are grateful to be able to continue this important relationship.”

To date, 32 communities in six states have participated in Statewide PHC through the original $6.8 grant awarded in 2009. These communities have implemented strategies that include: helping families put healthier food on the table by bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where there are no healthy food options; giving parents peace of mind by making safe walking routes to schools possible; helping to keep a generation of kids healthier by working with schools to increase physical education and physical activity during the school day or by working with afterschool programs to provide additional opportunities outside the school day for physical activity.

“The Y is really good at energizing communities and empowering them to tackle comprehensive policy approaches,” said John Govea, JD, MPA, senior program officer at RWJF. “As we all strive to reverse childhood obesity by 2015, the Y’s collaborative approach, which helps turn local innovations into statewide efforts, will be critical.”

The YMCA alliances in the following states were selected to participate in Statewide PHC: California, Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Statewide PHC is part of the Y’s Healthier Communities Initiatives. In more than 220 communities across the nation, Ys are working in collaboration with other community leaders on an intentional effort to ensure that healthy living is within reach of the people who live in those communities.

Learn more about the Y’s Healthier Communities Initiatives at

Media Contact:

Christine Clayton | Robert Wood Johson Foundation | | (609) 627-5937

Kelly Kennai | YMCA of the USA | | (800)932-9622

About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

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 improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. In 2007, the Foundation committed $500 million toward its goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. This is the largest commitment any foundation has made to the issue. 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.