This commentary explores how Active Living by Design (ALbD), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), has evolved from a five-year individual grant program into a nationally recognized service organization with multiple clients and the capacity and expertise to address active living and healthy eating systems, policies and environmental change initiatives.
Philanthropic organizations use a variety of strategies to ensure the sustainability and impact of grantmaking beyond the funding period. From the outset the ALbD National Program Office (NPO), with the support of RWJF, thought strategically and proactively about how to leverage RWJF funding to help build on and sustain their efforts. Effective stewardship in the early years attracted new partners with related missions and led to the eventual rebranding of the grant program into an organization that fosters community-led change by working with local and national partners to build a culture of active living and healthy eating.
Key to the success of this transformation were:
- a talented and committed staff;
- grantee satisfaction with technical assistance;
- excellent relationships with the funding partner; and
- increased national attention to the obesity epidemic.
Challenges included managing growth and diversification and demonstrating quantifiable value through independent evaluation. As the mission of the organization expanded to include healthy eating, this goal had to be integrated within program operations.
By planning carefully, and capitalizing on strengths and opportunities, the NPO has transformed a five-year grant into a lasting legacy—a network of healthier communities resulting from policies and environmental changes that will endure for generations to come.
Active Living by Design featured in a Special Supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
- 1. The Active Living by Design National Program
- 2. Bike, Walk, and Wheel
- 3. Project U-Turn
- 4. Promoting and Developing a Trail Network Across Suburban, Rural, and Urban Communities
- 5. Building the Base
- 6. Leveraging Neighborhood-Scale Change for Policy and Program Reform in Buffalo, New York
- 7. Active Living Logan Square
- 8. ACTIVE Louisville
- 9. Slavic Village
- 10. The Path to Active Living
- 11. Get Active Orlando
- 12. Active Seattle
- 13. Achieving Built-Environment and Active Living Goals Through Music City Moves
- 14. Partnership Moves Community Toward Complete Streets
- 15. Activate Omaha
- 16. From Partnership to Policy
- 17. Establishing Best Practices for Changing the Built Environment to Promote Physical Activity
- 18. Implications of Active Living by Design for Broad Adoption, Successful Implementation, and Long-Term Sustainability
- 19. Active Living by Design as a Political Project
- 20. Active Living by Design