Community Power: Increasing Understanding of Base-Building Methods

2019 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: August 20, 2019 | Application Deadline: Tue, 24 Sep 2019

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To successfully advance health equity we need to remove obstacles to health, including powerlessness. Base-building—the strategies used by grassroots-led organizations to build collective strength—advances this goal by enabling communities to exercise influence over the factors that shape their communities and their health.

To reduce inequities and build community power, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will fund projects that advance the ways the field assesses and measures base-building.

RWJF's Aditi Vaidya blogs about community power building and enabling communities to remove social and economic obstacles to health, including powerlessness.


This CFP will support research projects to build an understanding of the range of methods applied in innovative and effective community base-building that result in changes to community-level social, economic, and physical conditions that we know influence health and equity. We are seeking to fund research projects designed to retrospectively examine various methods resulting in innovative and effective community base-building. Base-building is a set of strategies and activities used by residents, workers, consumers, and other constituencies to build collective strength and power to address a variety of inequitable conditions in communities. Base-building has been utilized for generations by grassroots-led organizations and institutions to build power specifically in historically excluded or underrepresented populations.

We are seeking research proposals whose project teams will participate alongside other field and research experts in the RWJF Lead Local program, which is exploring the question: How does community power catalyze, create and sustain conditions for healthy communities? We are aware that community base-building methods vary across geographic areas and across racial, ethnic, and other demographic groups. We seek to understand community-identified innovations that lead to meaningful and effective community base-building. The proposed research projects are not intended to build understanding of methodologies applied to other critical approaches to achieve systems change, including policy advocacy, coalition-building, communications, or organizational development.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  • We encourage proposals from applicants who represent a wide range of organizations and disciplines—both within and outside the public health sector.
  • Applicants may include nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations as members of the proposed collaboration between grassroots-led organization(s) and researcher(s).
  • Preference will be given to applicants that are either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or Type III supporting organizations. RWJF may require additional documentation.
  • Awards will be made to organizations, not individuals. 
  • Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories.

Key Dates

Total Awards

  • RWJF expects to award grants ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 each. A total amount of $1,000,000 is available for this CFP.
  • Projects ideally will be 18 months in duration with the potential to extend to 24 months if needed.
  • This call for proposals (CFP) seeks to support collaborations between grassroots-led organizations and researchers to build the field’s understanding of the range of methods applied in base-building efforts that result in changes to community-level social, economic, and physical conditions that we know influence health and equity. For the purposes of this CFP, we have identified three categories that characterize common base-building methodologies: processes, infrastructure, and relationships (see table on CFP pages 2–3). Applicants are expected to include research in each of the methodology categories and may also address additional base-building methodologies and activities not included in the table.
  • Funded collaborations are encouraged to leverage resources from other sources to support research, engagement, and dissemination activities.
  • The proposed budget should be appropriate to the scope of work.
  • Grants will begin in December 2019.

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
September 24, 2019, 3:00 p.m. ET