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Based in Princeton, New Jerseymarker, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the United Statesmarker' largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. The foundation’s sole purpose is to help people in the U.S. live healthier lives and get the health care they need. The foundation has significant resources—$10 billion in assets, generating grants approaching $500 million a year—to address the nation’s most complex health and health care issues. The Foundation aims to use these private resources in the service of the public, and in a way that prompts new public policy, inspires action from the private sector, and changes systems for delivering the best health care to the most people.

History

Robert Wood Johnson II built a small, but innovative, family firm of Johnson & Johnsonmarker into the world's largest health products maker.

The title by which most knew him—General—grew out of his service during World War II as a brigadier general in charge of the New York Ordnance District. He resigned his commission to accept President Roosevelt's appointment as vice chairman of the War Production Board and chairman of the Smaller War Plants Corporation.

Johnson was an egalitarian industrialist committed to free enterprise who championed and paid a minimum wage. Over the course of his 74 years, Johnson would also be a politician, writer, sailor, pilot, promoter of alcohol abstinence, activist and philanthropist.His interest in hospitals led him to conclude that hospital administrators needed specialized training. He joined Malcolm Thomas MacEachern, M.D., then president of the American College of Surgeons, in a movement that led to the founding at Northwestern University of one of the first schools of hospital administration.

Johnson also had concern for hospital patients. He advocated improved education for both doctors and nurses, and he admired a keen medical mind that also was linked to a caring heart.

Johnson died in 1968, and established the foundation at his death with 10,204,377 shares of the company’s stock.

Leadership

Currently, the Foundation is led by Dr.Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, who was selected to serve as president and CEO in December 2002. Prior to Lavizzo-Mourey's tenure, Dr. Steve Schroeder served as the Foundation's president from 1990 - 2002. Under the leadership of Dr. Steve Schroeder, the foundation played a major role in curbing tobacco use in the US, spending $446 million from 1991 to 2003 toward that goal, and it plans to use those experiences to shape its attack on childhood obesity. Since 1995, the number of adult and teenage smokers has declined 12.6 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Grantmaking areas

These interest areas include:

Childhood Obesity: Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015 by improving access to affordable healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity in schools and communities across the United States.

In April 2007, the foundation committed $500 million to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. The President and CEO is personally committed to reversing this epidemic by 2015 she is quoted saying the following: Combined with a lack of safe playgrounds and cutbacks in school physical education programs, the absence of healthy food alternatives is one of the factors leading to an alarming increase in childhood obesity rates across the United States. These rates have soared among all age groups of children, more than quadrupling among those between the ages of 6 to 11 in the past 40 years. Today, more than 33% of children in the United States—approximately 25 million kids—are reported to be overweight or obese. The crisis is particularly acute in minority and low-income populations, which have significantly higher rates of obesity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been working over the past several years to support programs that offer potential for wide-scale change in communities and schools. These include efforts to bring supermarkets back to underserved communities and programs to improve nutrition, physical activity, and staff wellness in schools nationwide. The Foundation partnered with the Food Trust, a non-profit in Philadelphia, whose mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food. The Food Trust’s research on childhood obesity led the Philadelphia school system to ban soda vending machines from all of its schools, the strongest measure in the country.

Health Insurance Coverage: Ensuring that everyone in America has stable, affordable health care coverage through the development of policies and programs to expand health coverage and maximize enrollment in existing coverage programs.

Public Health: Strengthening the practice of public health and the implementation of policies to ensure the system can fulfill its vital role in protecting the safety and health of all Americans.

Quality/Equality: Helping communities set and achieve ambitious goals to improve the quality of health care in ways that matter to all patients and their families, and in particular to patients from specific racial and ethnic backgrounds who often experience lower-quality care.

Human Capital: Fostering a diverse group of promising scholars and professionals through leadership development, training and research to ensure that our nation has a sufficient, well-trained workforce to meet our needs.

Vulnerable Populations: Supporting promising new ideas that address health and health care problems that intersect with social factors—housing, poverty and inadequate education—and affect society's most vulnerable people, including low-income children and their families, frail older adults, adults with disabilities, the homeless, those with HIV/AIDS, and those with severe mental illness.

Pioneer Portfolio: Promoting fundamental breakthroughs in health and health care through innovative projects, including those from nontraditional sources and fields.

The Foundation’s Pioneer portfolio focuses developing and implementing new ideas in new and unexpected ways, or new methodologies that inform the future of health and health care. The portfolio was seeks disruptive ideas from all fields and invests in innovators who are looking to make long term social change. One example of a pioneering endeavor that fits into the portfolio is using video games to promote health. Although video games are often linked to the physical inactivity, Pioneer team is examining how video games can be used to help kids increase their physical activity level. The team is also examining whether or not an “X Prize” can be used to foster new ways of thinking about health and health care.

Criticism

Despite the Foundation's statements to the contrary, some critics have labeled RWJF as anti-alcohol or neo-prohibitionist. This is likely due to their stance on several alcohol-related issues (e.g. alcohol restriction laws, legal drinking age, alcohol taxation, roadblocks, etc.), their funding of certain alcohol-related studies, and the fact that they are a significant funding source for groups such as MADD (itself often accused of neo-prohibitionism lately) and many others who share their views on alcohol issues However, the American Beverage Institute and DISCUS (some of the biggest critics) can both be said to have vested interests as well.

See also



References

  1. Health Affairs - Search Result
  2. rwjf.org, 3/23/2009.
  3. $500 Million Pledged to Fight Childhood Obesity - New York Times
  4. onPhilanthropy: Articles: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Takes Aim at Childhood Obesity
  5. Health Affairs - Sign In Page
  6. http://www.abionline.org/newsDetail.cfm?nid=81&CFID=22484403&CFTOKEN=15449402 American Beverage Institute
  7. http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/headline/2111 The Center for Consumer Freedom
  8. http://www.consumerfreedom.com/downloads/pro/docs/030410_rwjf.pdf Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign The Center for Consumer Freedom


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