Fast Company announced today that it named the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the largest U.S. foundation devoted to health, as one of the 10 most innovative not-for-profit organizations globally. The magazine’s annual list of the world’s most innovative companies recognizes established enterprises and rising newcomers alike for exemplifying the best in business and innovation; this is the first time a separate category for not-for-profits has been included in the list.
Fast Company recognized the 43-year-old foundation for its “dramatic change” in vision in 2014, when President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, announced that, rather than approach health care and public health as separate goals, the Foundation would build a Culture of Health aimed at all the elements that affect a person’s well-being, whether it’s poverty, food security, adequate housing, assistance to the elderly, or bike paths in cities. The magazine noted that, “RWJF won’t stop working for quality, cost-effective health care,” but will “broaden its mission to include other factors that affect the public well-being.”
“We are honored to be recognized by Fast Company for our efforts to build a Culture of Health for all, and to develop innovative, impactful solutions that will help us accomplish this goal,” said Lavizzo-Mourey. “As we strive to ensure that each person in the United States, no matter where they live or how much money they have, has the opportunity to achieve the healthiest life possible, we will continue to work to bring in the ideas and innovations of many people, from all sectors.”
RWJF actively works with businesses, community organizations, policymakers, educators, researchers, and other non-profits, in and outside of the health sector, to discover new perspectives, cutting-edge ideas, and emerging trends that have the potential to accelerate a Culture of Health. Fast Company named Health Leads, an organization supported by the Foundation, as one example. To remove social barriers to good health, Health Leads enables physicians and other health care practitioners to write prescriptions for resources such as food, housing, and heating assistance, and trains college students to help patients then access those resources.
Here is a small sampling of some of the other innovative efforts RWJF supports:
- Childhood Obesity initiative—On February 5, the Foundation announced a $500 million, 10-year commitment to expand efforts to ensure that all children in the United States—no matter who they are or where they live—can grow up at a healthy weight. Adding to a commitment of $500 million made in 2007, this brings to $1 billion dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.
- Culture of Health Prize—Each year RWJF recognizes communities that place a high priority on innovative, collaborative solutions for building a Culture of Health for all their residents. These communities serve as beacons of progress that can inspire other communities to be creative in addressing their own health challenges.
- MIT Media Lab—In September 2014, RWJF gave the influential Media Lab a $1 million grant to launch a wellness initiative, meant to spark innovation in the areas of health and well-being and encourage healthier workplaces and lifestyle behaviors.
- MakerNurse—RWJF funds the MakerNurse initiative, started by the Little Devices Lab @ MIT, to provide creative nurse-inventors with the resources and tools they need to bring their innovative health care ideas to life.
- OpenNotes—This initiative supported by RWJF allows doctors to share visit notes with patients as a routine part of their care, allowing patients to become true partners in decision-making about their health.
“We are honored that our ongoing search for creative, innovative and collaborative solutions to some of the most challenging problems threatening health has gained the recognition of Fast Company,” said Roger S. Fine, chairman of the Board of Trustees of RWJF. “We can only hope that our own efforts, and those of the many other entities on this list, will inspire others to be equally innovative in developing solutions that will better the well-being of all.”