Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Launches Leadership Development Programs, Seeks Innovators from Every Sector to Improve Health for All

    • March 11, 2016
A community health worker makes a house visit.

Princeton, N.J.—In its mission to address one of the most pervasive challenges of our time—improving health for all—the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has launched four new leadership development programs to engage people working across a variety of sectors to build a Culture of Health in the United States. Applications are open now and are due April 19, 2016.

A Culture of Health is one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life. It’s a culture in which communities flourish and individuals thrive, and that enables everyone in our diverse society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come. RWJF’s vision is that building a Culture of Health becomes a national movement and that health becomes a national priority, valued and advanced by collaborators from all sectors.

To that end, the new programs will engage professionals, community advocates and organizers, doctoral scholars, clinicians, and researchers across multiple fields: health, health care, education, transportation, technology, public policy, business, community development, faith, urban planning and others. Participants will represent diverse backgrounds, perspectives and specialties. They will share a frustration with the status quo and a commitment to significantly improving equity and health. 

Each program will provide training in topics from change leadership to health policy, mentoring and executive coaching, networking with other program participants, and the opportunity to work on solutions to real, complex problems in local communities. Programs range from three to five years in duration. Participants will work in their home communities, connect via distance learning technology, and gather several times each year in person for training and collaboration. They will receive stipends to offset the time investment required.

To build a Culture of Health in America—a culture where everyone can attain the best health possible—we need leaders who can work together across disciplines, professions and sectors. This is more important than ever, as evidence shows that many factors beyond health care influence health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO.

Four Innovative Programs Will Engage Multiple Fields

  • Health Policy Research Scholars will bring together up to 50 diverse first- and second-year doctoral students from multiple disciplines whose research, connections and leadership will inform and influence policy toward a Culture of Health. Specifically, it seeks participants from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds to help diversify the next generations of leaders and ensure that solutions are inclusive.
  • Interdisciplinary Research Leaders seeks up to 20 three-person teams of researchers and community members who can bridge the myriad factors that have an enormous influence on people’s health—education, neighborhoods, transportation, income, faith and so on, address health disparities, and build fundamentally healthier communities. Each year, teams will work on projects that advance one of two annual themes; the first cohort will take on “early childhood and health” and “housing, community development and health.” Each participant will receive an annual stipend of $25,000, and teams will receive a $125,000 project grant. The program is led by University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
  • Clinical Scholars will engage up to 50 clinically active health care providers to collaborate in teams with fellow clinicians from a wide range of disciplines—including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians and others. Teams will take on complex problems in their communities, bridging clinical practice with transformative change centered on health equity. Participants will be selected primarily in inter-professional teams of three to five members; individual and pair applicants will also be considered. Each participant will receive a $35,000 annual fellowship. The program is led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Culture of Health Leaders will engage up to 50 participants—both individuals and established or emerging teams—from education, transportation, technology, public health, government, faith/spiritual, business, health care, social service, economic development, urban planning and other fields. Participants from for-profit companies, government agencies and nonprofits will receive formal leadership training and the opportunity to break down traditional silos and create radical solutions. Each participant will receive an annual $20,000 stipend, with additional funds available for project activities. The program is co-led by the National Center for Health Equity and CommonHealth ACTION.

Additional information and applications are available at

These programs represent a multi-year, multimillion investment by RWJF, and one that continues a long legacy of supporting the development and diversity of health care leaders. RWJF created these new programs to invest in leaders from additional sectors to navigate the rapidly evolving health and health care environment and the factors that shape it. Five additional leadership programs are continuing as well: Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, New Connections, RWJF Health Policy Fellows, Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, and State Health Leadership Initiative.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national culture of health that will enable all Americans 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

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

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