Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards IHI $4.8 Million to Help Communities Become National and Global Models of Health

    • January 29, 2015

Cambridge, Mass.The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded a $4.8 million grant to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to help communities develop capability to improve health and to spread effective community-driven approaches to help build a Culture of Health.

The two-year initiative, SCALE (Spreading Community Adopters through Learning and Evaluation), will involve up to 30 communities from across the United States, aiming to match up to 10 “mentor communities”—those with a recent track record of achieving better health—with 20 “pacesetter communities” that are seeking to accelerate their pace of change. With multiple sources of support, communities will seek to spread effective, best practices as quickly as possible, in order to realize improvements in health. Together, all the communities intend to stand as beacons and resources for any community, anywhere, striving to obtain the best health possible, especially those most vulnerable to poor health due to poverty, violence, or lack of social supports. 

This RWJF grant marks the first community-based phase of the recently announced global initiative, 100 Million Healthier Lives, led by IHI and 90 founding project partners. Through unprecedented collaboration, this initiative aims to achieve an audacious goal: 100 million people living healthier lives by 2020. To date, more than 200 patients, community members, leaders, and implementers across the domains of public health, community health, health care, policy, academia, business, and financing have joined the 100 Million Healthier Lives initiative, with additional members welcome to join here. 

IHI has convened a team of partners to help the mentor and pacesetter communities engage in transformative work. Community Solutions, Communities Joined in Action (CJA), and the Collaborative Health Network (CHN) each bring unique capabilities and expertise to strengthen, measure, and spread the efforts of local communities. 

In addition, the initiative will tap into the expertise of Abraham H. Wandersman, PhD, from the University of South Carolina, who will lead a team of experts in formative evaluation across institutions. “I am pleased to be leading up the evaluation of the SCALE initiative because of the opportunity to learn from this work, starting right at the outset,” stated Wandersman. “A major purpose of the formative evaluation is to provide important lessons learned throughout the grant period that can then contribute to spreading what communities are doing well to build a culture of health. Learning what it takes to ignite and sustain peer-to-peer support and learning among and between communities will yield new strategies that all communities can tap into. The hope is that determining best practices by communities will add to data-informed decision making about health, and will have a snowball effect on the journey toward widespread improvement.”

IHI’s mission has long been to improve health and health care worldwide, and for more than 25 years the organization has worked to make health care safe, timely, patient-centered, effective, efficient, and equitable. This includes a focus on helping organizations deliver great health care and high value today, and innovatingfor the emerging health and health care models of tomorrow through collaboratives such as IHI’s Leadership Alliance. As IHI has helped hundreds of communities pursue the Triple Aim (better health, better care, and lower cost), it has become clear that true improvement in population health requires improvement in the many determinants of health and well-being that exist outside the walls of the health care system—in communities. 

“Across the United States and around the world, we see bright spots where organizations and communities are collaborating to improve health,” stated Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO of IHI. “This grant from RWJF will create resources to help develop capability for improvement within these communities, as well as help spread these local successes between communities—identifying the gaps that have impeded progress in the past, creating a system for cross-community engagement and mentoring, and, most importantly, developing a sustainable, peer-to-peer pathway to bring proven improvement strategies to thousands of communities, with potential impact on millions of lives.”

In 2013, RWJF announced its goal to enable everyone in society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come, by achieving a Culture of Health together. 

“We see this galvanizing opportunity to build a healthier world, and are thrilled to join with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with our community partners, and groups worldwide to build a Culture of Health,” said Soma Stout, Executive External Lead, Health Improvement, IHI. “No single organization or entity has the ability to achieve this inspired aim, and so we look forward to co-creating new solutions and sharing innovative approaches across communities.”

The Request for Applications (RFA) to become a mentor or pacesetter community will be announced in early February. To learn more about the opportunities available through this grant, including upcoming information sessions, contact

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

IHI is a leading innovator in health and health care improvement worldwide. For more than 25 years, we have partnered with visionaries, leaders and front-line practitioners around the globe to spark bold, inventive ways to improve the health of individuals and populations. Recognized as an innovator, convener, trustworthy partner, and driver of results, we are the first place to turn for expertise, help, and encouragement for anyone, anywhere who wants to change health and health care profoundly for the better. To advance our mission, IHI's work is focused in five key areas: Improvement Capability; Person and Family-Centered Care; Patient Safety; Quality; Cost; and Value; and Triple Aim for Populations. Learn more at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937