Solutions for Social Isolation: What We Can Learn from the World

As COVID-19 forced us physically apart, feeling disconnected and isolated became commonplace. Yet, well before COVID-19, the United States was experiencing an epidemic of social isolation.

In 2017, RWJF’s Global Ideas for U.S. Solutions team issued a Call for Proposals (CFP) titled “Developing Solutions for Social Isolation in the United States: Learning from the World,” whose purpose was to learn how other countries were dealing with the challenges of social isolation and how to adapt those promising ideas to the United States. 

RWJF received 200 proposals spotlighting a wide variety of global models for addressing social isolation that either have been or could be adapted to the United States, ultimately funding six projects which bring ideas from abroad to communities across our nation–transporting solutions from Iceland to Anchorage, Brazil to Baltimore, and more. 

This brief shares what we have learned from this process, and points to future opportunities for addressing social isolation—from raising the visibility of social isolation and its root causes, to implementing screening to aid with early identification and prevention, to building an evidence base around promising interventions, and exchanging best practices across borders.  

Opportunities for Addressing Social Isolation


Social isolation is recognized in the United States and globally as a significant threat to individual, family, and community health and well-being. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more urgent time to recognize and address the causes and effects of social isolation—and help us all develop and sustain meaningful social connections.

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Global Ideas for U.S. Solutions

When it comes to health, good ideas have no borders. To build a Culture of Health, we’ll need the best ideas that the world has to offer.

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Socially Connected Communities: Solutions for Social Isolation

Social isolation is not a personal choice or individual problem, but one that is rooted in community design, social norms, and systemic injustices. This brief   by Healthy Places by Designoffers five recommendations for creating socially connected communities, starting with public spaces, transportation, and housing.

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Blue Marble Quiz

How do you learn from the rest of the world? Answer 12 short questions to explore where in the world your ideas come from.


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