Systems for Action: Systems and Services Research to Build a Culture of Health

2019 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: August 15, 2019 | Application Deadline: Wed, 6 Nov 2019

Learn more


Health and well-being often depend on factors beyond health care, for instance, access to jobs, education, and stable housing. The Systems for Action program will award new research grants up to $500,000 to study how to connect disparate systems to improve individual and community health. Researchers with underrepresented backgrounds and from disciplines outside of the health and medical science sectors are encouraged to apply.

View October 1 informational webinar recording.


Systems for Action (S4A) is a signature research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that helps to build the evidence base for a Culture of Health by rigorously testing new ways of connecting the nation’s fragmented medical, social, and public health systems. Studies conducted through the S4A program test innovative mechanisms for aligning delivery and financing systems for medical, social, and public health services, with a focus on the effects of these mechanisms on health and health equity. S4A uses a wide research lens that includes and extends beyond medical care and public health to incorporate social service systems—such as housing, transportation; education; employment; food and nutrition assistance; child and family support; criminal and juvenile justice; and economic and community development. 

Research studies supported through S4A must: 1) focus on solutions to high-priority system alignment problems that involve medical, social, and public health services; 2) test the effectiveness of these solutions using rigorous scientific methods; and 3) engage stakeholders from medical, social, and public health systems in the design and conduct of the research, so that findings can be readily used in practice. 

Studies funded through the S4A program must test a specific system alignment mechanism that engages all three of the broad sectors referenced in this call for proposals (CFP), including medical care, public health, and social services. These sectors are defined in greater detail below. The S4A Research Agenda uses the term “system alignment mechanism” broadly to include any action that an organization, network, or community may undertake to reduce fragmentation and improve coordination in the delivery of medical, social, and public health services.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Complete eligibility criteria is available in the Funding Opportunity Brochure. Before starting a proposal, be sure to review carefully for a full explanation of eligibility, funding priorities, and selection criteria used by this program.

Key Dates

  • September 5, 2019  (1 p.m. ET)
    Informational webinar for applicants. Registration is required. Please visit to register.
  • October 1, 2019  (11 a.m. ET)
    Informational webinar for applicants. Registration is required. Please visit to register.
  • October 4, 2019 (3 p.m. ET)
    Deadline for receipt of one-page Letter of Intent (strongly encouraged, but not mandatory and nonbinding). 
  • November 6, 2019 (3 p.m. ET)
    Deadline for receipt of full proposals via RWJF online system.
  • Mid-February 2020
    Applicant finalists notified of funding recommendations.  
  • April 1, 2020
    Grants initiated.

Total Awards

This call for proposals will support studies that can be completed over a 36-month period with up to $500,000 in total funding from RWJF. Up to four awards will be selected for funding under this solicitation.   

Each study will be expected to distribute its resources for stakeholder engagement, research implementation, and research dissemination in the most productive and equitable ways. Funded investigators are encouraged to leverage resources from other sources to support research, engagement, and dissemination activities.