Skip to main content

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-09-14

At A Glance

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

College Rd. E. and Rte. 1, P.O. Box 2316

Princeton, NJ United States 08543-2316

Telephone: (877) 843-7953


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $10,501,370,521

Total giving: $346,240,905






Incorporated in 1936 in NJ; became a national philanthropy in 1972 - Founded by the late Robert Wood Johnson, who built the family firm, Johnson & Johnson, (which was founded by his father Robert Wood Johnson, I) into a worldwide health and medical care products company. Because of his service during World War II as a brigadier general in charge of the New York Ordnance District, people who knew him addressed him as the General. President Roosevelt appointed him as Vice Chairman of the War Production Board and Chairman of the Smaller War Plants Corporation. He endowed the foundation with a $1.2 billion bequest from his personal fortune. In 2014 the foundation announced that it will continue to work on issues it believes are key to the well-being of all Americans, but within its organization it will no longer divide its efforts into the silos of health and health care. Rather, all that it does will serve one goal: building a culture of health. The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation's mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Its efforts focus on fostering environments that promote health and on improving how health care in America is delivered and paid for, and how well it does for patients and their families.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

21st Century Leadership

The foundation identifies leaders who have the potential to transform our nation’s health and providing them with the support they need to realize their promise. It is committed to investing in the development of health innovators and to develop new health-focused leadership programs that connect people across sectors as well as disciplines, capitalize on technology to promote networking and mentoring, and reach and help many more individuals .

Bridging Health and Health Care

The foundation believes that for too long being healthy has been defined as not being sick. It also believes that good health extends beyond the walls of medical offices to the places where people live, learn, work and play. As such, the foundation will continue to invest in programs that bridge health and health care, balancing treatment with prevention, community action and individual responsibility.

Cost, Quality, and Value

The foundation is committed to seeking the best possible outcomes and highest value from our national investments in health care, public health and population health. This includes reducing wasteful spending, increasing the reach and efficacy of fundamental health services, and investing in the identification and spread of strategies to improve the quality and reduce the costs of health care and other health services.

Culture of Health Prize

The prize is awarded annually to honor outstanding community efforts and partnerships that are helping people live healthier lives. Winning communities will each receive a $25,000 cash prize and have their accomplishments celebrated and shared broadly with the goal of raising awareness and inspiring locally-driven change across the country. The prize is a place-based prize that honors whole U.S. communities; submissions representing the work of a single organization or initiative will not be considered. Each applicant community will be required to designate a local U.S. governmental or tax exempt public charity operating in its community to accept the $25,000 prize on the community’s behalf, should they win. Community partners can decide together how to use the funds to benefit the community; reports to RWJF or UWPHI on prize expenditures are not required. See foundation web site eligibility and selection criteria and online application process.

Equal Opportunity

The foundation works with other foundations, organizations, and businesses that have long worked to increase opportunities in education, housing, and community development to make the fruits of good health available to all. In 2013, it established Forward Promise, a $9.5 million initiative focused on promoting opportunities for the health and success of middle school and high school-aged boys and young men of color.The foundation will continue to delve more deeply into the causes of the unacceptable gaps in opportunity for good health and identify additional areas that we believe call for immediate attention.

Future of Nursing Scholars

The goal of the program is to develop the next generation of PhD-prepared nurse leaders who are committed to long-term careers that advance science and discovery, strengthen nursing education, and bring transformational change to nursing and health care. Schools with research-focused PhD programs in nursing are eligible to apply for the program. Selected schools will choose the PhD students to be designated as Future of Nursing Scholars. The school must be committed to facilitating the scholar’s completion of the PhD in three academic years. The scholars selected by the school must also be committed to completing their PhD program in three academic years. Each scholar will receive $75,000 to be used over the three years of the program. This award must be matched by $50,000 in support from the school (which may be in-kind). See foundation web site for online application process.

Health Care Coverage For All

For decades, the foundation has worked to improve access to affordable, high-quality coverage for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act has created new opportunities for more than 30 million uninsured Americans to acquire coverage. The foundation's objective is to ensure that all who are eligible for coverage know what is available to them and how to make the most of it.

Healthy Places and Practices

To help build public demand for a culture of health, the foundation will identify, support, and spread the word about individual and community actions that promote lifelong health for all Americans. It is committed to finding strong examples of places and practices reflecting a culture of health, and sharing the lessons they have to offer with others so Americans can link forces and build small victories into a national movement.

Healthy Weight for All Children

In 2007, the foundation announced that it would dedicate $500 million to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in America. The relentless rise in childhood obesity rates has abated, and in some areas has even decreased. Moving forward, the foundation will stress the importance of achieving a healthy weight for all of our nation’s children, especially in poor communities and those of color.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made PRIs in the form of loans in a pooled PRI fund to improve economically disadvantaged urban communities and the lives of their residents and for an expansion of playworks to promote youth development in school. The foundation has made a PRI to provide a reserve for a loan fund serving women and minorities in medicine. In the following years, PRI support has included funding for organizations focused on the aging, the housing needs of the chronic mentally ill, and increasing the effectiveness of rural hospitals. Specifically, PRIs have supported facilities improvement and equipment acquisition, and capitalized earned income ventures and housing development projects.

Vulnerable Populations

The foundation supports finding innovative and effective ways of addressing the many factors that influence the health of our nation’s most vulnerable people. Its work in this area will focus on mental wellness and violence prevention, particularly in early childhood. The foundation believes we cannot call ourselves a healthy nation if we continue to be a violent one. The foundation has chosen to address how health is diminished by all forms of violence—child abuse, bullying, post-traumatic stress, domestic abuse, street violence—and how the cycle can be broken.

Fields of Interest

  • Addiction services
  • Bullying
  • Child development
  • Child educational development
  • Child welfare
  • Environmental health
  • Family services
  • Health
  • Health care financing
  • Health insurance
  • Homeless services
  • Hospital care
  • Leadership development
  • Medical education
  • Mental and behavioral disorders
  • Mental health care
  • Nursing care
  • Obesity
  • Palliative care
  • Preventive care
  • Senior services
  • Smoking
  • Voluntarism
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • American Indians
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Homeless people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • People with disabilities
  • Seniors

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $10,501,370,521 (market value)

Gifts received: $2,990

Expenditures: $565,494,575

Total giving: $346,240,905

Qualifying distributions: $475,328,795

Giving activities include:

$346,240,905 for 3112 grants (high: $6,250,000; low: $55)

$50,651,361 for foundation-administered programs

$18,637,879 for 5 loans/program-related investments