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

2022 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: July 6, 2022 | Application Deadline: Multiple

Award Categories

The full proposal application deadline for both award categories is October 19, 2022 (3pm ET). Applicants must read the following descriptions to determine which award category (Development Studies or Impact Studies) they will apply for, and apply only to that specific award category:


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) works to build a Culture of Health that ensures everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthy by removing obstacles such as poverty and discrimination, providing access to quality education, good jobs with fair pay, affordable housing, safe environments, and effective health care. The historical and contemporary manifestations of systemic racism and injustice play powerful roles in sustaining obstacles to health, transmitting them across generations, and making them resistant to remedies. Social determinants of health such as those related to housing instability, food insecurity, social isolation, financial strain, and interpersonal violence remain dominant causes of preventable disease and injury.

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. New strategies and tools are needed to help medical, social, and public health systems work together to dismantle structural racism and improve health and well-being for all.

S4A studies a variety of novel approaches for aligning systems, using rigorous scientific methods to determine their impact on health and health equity. This 2022 call for proposals (CFP) will provide funding for a new cohort of research studies to produce new, actionable evidence about how to help medical, social, and public health systems collaborate to address structural barriers to health and health equity, including racism and the social conditions that impact health.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Applicants must be 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 non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations. The Foundation may require additional documentation from applicant organizations. Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories. Awards will be made to organizations, not to individuals. Multiorganizational consortia are encouraged to apply as long as a single eligible organization is designated as the primary applicant responsible for maintaining consortium agreements with other participating organizations. The primary applicant organization must have a demonstrated history of successfully managing funds awarded by foundation or government sources. 

We welcome applications from people of all personal and professional backgrounds. We especially encourage applications that include:

  • Individuals having backgrounds and life experiences that are underrepresented on research teams, including Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other persons of color, first-generation college graduates, and individuals from low-income households. 
  • Individuals and institutions who are new to RWJF and have not received funding previously. 
  • Individuals from disciplines outside of the health professions and medical sciences, including but not limited to education, social work, criminal justice, economics, engineering, sociology, transportation, and urban and regional planning. 
  • Individuals working in nonacademic settings including government agencies, professional associations, and community-based organizations. 
  • Interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research teams that include individuals with both scientific expertise and operational experience. 
  • Because S4A is a research program, all applicants should make sure that their team includes individuals with relevant expertise in scientific research design, data analysis methodologies, and scientific publication. Applicants from nonacademic settings that do not have internal research expertise are strongly encouraged to collaborate with a research partner.


Applicants are eligible to apply for the Impact Study award category only if they have completed a pilot study of their proposed system alignment approach and can provide documentation about results that confirm the feasibility of the approach and its acceptability to key actors. Acceptable documentation of pilot test results must be submitted with the application, and may include a publication, report, working paper, or research brief. If the pilot test study was conducted by an organization other than the applicant organization or a partner organization, then the applicant must explain how their organization will ensure that it has the necessary knowledge, experience, community relationships, and trust to replicate the results of the pilot test.

Key Dates

  • July 13, 2022 (1 p.m. MT; 3 p.m. ET)
    Optional applicant webinar. Registration is required through this link.
  • August 15, 2022 (1 p.m. MT; 3 p.m. ET)
    Optional applicant webinar. Registration is required through this link.
  • October 19, 2022 (3 p.m. ET)
    Deadline for receipt of full proposals.
  • January 15, 2023 
    Grant start date (subject to change if review period runs longer than expected)

Total Awards

Developmental Studies:

  • Total award amount: up to $100,000 for each award
  • Grant award length: up to 12 months
  • Number of awards: up to five awards


Impact Studies:

  • Total award amount: up to $500,000 for each award
  • Grant award length: up to 36 months
  • Number of awards: up to four awards

Application is Now Closed

Applications closed as of:
October 19, 2022, 3:01 p.m. ET

Key Contacts

Glen Mays, PhD and Carrington Lott, MPH
Phone: (303) 724-3759

From the Blog

Connecting Systems to Build Health Equity

Working together, academic and community-based researchers can strengthen the connections across medical, social service, and public health systems to help diminish structural racism.

Read the blog