NAACP and RWJF Partner to Improve Health Equity

Leveraging grassroots activism and cross-sector commitment for better health for everyone in America.

    • February 4, 2019

Princeton, N.J.—The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have expanded their partnership to improve health and opportunity in communities of color across the United States.

“To get to a position where everyone in this county is truly afforded equal rights, we must place a heavy emphasis on health,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Both RWJF and the NAACP recognize that to address what influences health and eliminate racial and ethnic inequities, we must focus on the conditions in our communities, at home, at work, and at our schools. The first step is widening the conversation to include education, criminal justice reform, economic development, housing, and discrimination. This partnership will allow us to do that.”

With $5.25 million in RWJF funding, the work will focus on:

  • Strengthening NAACP’s research capacity to identify, document, and use data to advance community-driven health priorities, inform community-driven policies and bridge local and national work.
  • Expanding the focus on health equity and health justice at the NAACP, including:
    • Civic engagement and nonpartisan policymaker education; and
    • Technical assistance and capacity building for select state and local NAACP affiliates to increase their understanding of policy priorities associated with improving nutrition, early care and education, and income supports, specifically as they relate to underserved African-American children and families and other minorities.
  • Investing in youths as leaders building healthier, more equitable communities.

“Building a Culture of Health that benefits everyone in this nation means being honest about the fact that too many people in the United States start behind and stay behind, because they don’t have the same opportunities as others,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “As a society, we need to work together to change systems, many with built-in discrimination, which perpetuate health inequities. With the NAACP’s long history advancing civil rights and its roots in communities across our nation, we know this partnership brings us a step closer to ensuring everyone a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.”


About the NAACP

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. 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

Achieving Health Equity

Learn about why health equity matters and what you can do to help ensure we all have the basics to be as healthy as possible.

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