Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

By Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Victoria Chang
2007 | Case No. SI75 | Length 12 pgs.

In 1972, Robert Wood Johnson, who built Johnson & Johnson into the world’s largest health and medical care products company, founded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Its mission was improving the health and health care of all Americans. The foundation made grants in four areas guided by four overarching health-related objectives: 1) ensuring that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; 2) improving quality care and support for people with chronic health conditions; 3) promoting healthy communities and lifestyles; and 4) reducing the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse. RWJF’s focus was on strengthening health care systems and promoting the conditions that would advance better health. The foundation worked to build a knowledge base about health and health care that included research, policy analysis and program evaluation. The foundation had four grantmaking “portfolios”: 1) targeted—addressing specific improvements in targeted health and health care challenges over a defined time period; 2) human capital—attracting, developing and retaining high-quality leadership and workforce to improve health and health care; 3) vulnerable populations—promoting community-based projects that improve health and health care outcomes for society’s most vulnerable people; and (4) pioneer—promoting fundamental breakthroughs in health and health care through innovative projects. By 2005, RWJF valued knowledge management as a key strategic focus and was committed to communicating its findings to both internal and external constituencies. Looking ahead, RWJF faced the challenges of both effectively executing its communications and measuring its ability to inform policymakers and decision-makers in the health and health care fields.

Learning Objective

Foundations building knowledge management systems and philanthropic organizations sharing knowledge and learnings.

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