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Healthy Eating Research (HER): Building Evidence to Promote Health and Well-Being Among Children - Round 11

Grants to USA Nonprofits and Agencies for Research
to Promote Nutrition and Wellbeing for Children

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

Conf. Date:


LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

09/26/18 3:00 PM ET - Deadline for Small-Scale Grants; Applications for Large-Scale Grants are due 10/10/18


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofit organizations and public agencies for research on system, policy, and environmental strategies that will improve the health and wellbeing of children. Concept papers are due July 18. This program seeks to help all children achieve optimal nutrition and a healthy weight.


Optimal nutrition and a healthy weight are critical for child health and well-being across a wide range of dimensions, including physical, socioemotional, and cognitive development. Proper nutrition is particularly important during a child’s early years, as key nutrients are critical for neurodevelopment and long-term physical and mental health. Inadequate nutrition, poor diet quality, and obesity are most pronounced in residents of lower-income communities, who often lack access to healthy foods or experience an overabundance of unhealthy foods, as well as in households with limited funds to buy or time to prepare healthful foods.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has provided national leadership in efforts to improve the health of all of our nation’s children, especially those in lower-income communities and communities of color. This landmark work continues today as part of a vision to build a national Culture of Health that enables everyone in our diverse society to lead healthier lives now and for generations to come. Building a Culture of Health requires action in four areas: Making Health a Shared Value; Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration to Improve Well-Being; Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities; and Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems. Accordingly—our efforts to ensure that all children and their families have the opportunity and resources to experience the best physical, social, and emotional development possible through nutritious foods and beverages—rely on building the evidence to identify promising and effective strategies that catalyze and support change in those action areas.

Healthy Eating Research (HER) is an RWJF national program, which supports research on policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) strategies with strong potential to promote the health and well-being of children at a population level. Specifically, HER aims to help all children achieve optimal nutrition and a healthy weight. HER grantmaking focuses on children and adolescents from birth to 18, and their families, with a priority on lower-income and racial and ethnic minority populations that are at-risk of poor nutrition and obesity. Findings are expected to advance RWJF’s efforts to ensure that all children and their families have the opportunity and resources to experience the best physical, social, and emotional health possible, promote health equity, and build a Culture of Health.

Healthy Eating Research issues calls for proposals (CFPs) to solicit scientifically rigorous, solution- oriented proposals from investigators representing diverse disciplines and backgrounds. This CFP is for two types of awards aimed at providing advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers with evidence to promote the health and well-being of children through nutritious foods and beverages.

The Program:

Healthy Eating Research is an RWJF national program. Its goals are to:
-Establish a research base for PSE strategies that promote the health and well-being of children at the population level, primarily through achieving healthy dietary patterns without excess weight gain.
-Build a vibrant, multidisciplinary field of research and a diverse network of researchers.
-Ensure that findings are communicated effectively to inform the development of nutrition and obesity-related solutions in the form of PSE changes, with a particular focus on promoting health equity.

Priority Topic Areas:

RWJF funds efforts to change public and institutional policies, systems, and environments in ways that promote improved nutrition, dietary patterns, and healthy weight among children. RWJF is particularly interested in supporting efforts that will impact those at highest risk of poor health and well-being outcomes (e.g., black, Latino, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; children living in lower-income rural and urban communities), with the aim of promoting health equity. This work ranges from changes at the state or national level to those taking place at the organizational or community levels. Priority is given to solutions that could be replicated and scaled up if effective and have the potential to reach those in greatest need.

Currently, RWJF is focused on PSE strategies that support parents’ and caregivers’ ability to provide environments that nurture and foster children’s physical, socioemotional, and cognitive health and well- being. In the area of food and nutrition, we are particularly interested in PSE strategies that impact families, early care environments, schools, and communities at a population level. Research studies must focus on PSE approaches with strong potential to improve children’s physical, socioemotional, and/or cognitive health and well-being through nutritious foods and beverages. Proposals will need to make clear connections between the study’s PSE strategies of interest and specific indicators of child health and well-being.

In the past, Healthy Eating Research has focused on diet-related PSE efforts to reduce child obesity. While reducing child obesity still remains a key goal, we also strive to improve dietary intake and patterns that impact a wider variety of children’s short-term and long-term health outcomes. The Foundation’s goal is to accelerate evidence-based strategic, actionable, and equitable solutions for improving children’s weight and nutrition, diet quality, and food access and security. While important, it is beyond the scope of this CFP to address excessive or deficient intakes of specific micronutrients (i.e., sodium); rather, the Foundation is most interested in approaches that impact dietary patterns more holistically.

Topics of interest for this CFP include but are not limited to research exploring:

-U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Assistance Programs [e.g., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and Child Nutrition Programs relevant for school and early-care settings (e.g., Child and Adult Care Food Program, School Breakfast Program, School Lunch Program)];

-Other policies and practices in child-care settings, schools, and retail food outlets;

-PSE changes aimed at (1) increasing access, affordability, and/or demand for healthy foods and beverages (e.g., reforms to agricultural systems; pricing incentives; potable water access; food procurement in early care and pre-K through 12th grade education settings) and (2) decreasing access to and/or demand for less healthy foods and beverages (e.g., product placement, pricing disincentives, calorie or nutrition labeling);

-Industry practices and related systems that influence purchasing and/or consumption of healthy or unhealthy foods and beverages (e.g., marketing of foods and beverages for infants and toddlers and to children and adolescents).

All applicants are encouraged to visit the Healthy Eating Research website to learn more about the program and view the abstracts for studies funded previously, keeping in mind that the focus of those studies was only on PSE strategies aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

Targeted Age Groups and Priority Populations:

Target age groups for studies funded as part of this CFP are infants, children, and adolescents (ages 0 to 18) and their families.

All studies must have the potential to impact groups at highest risk for poor health and well-being, and nutrition and weight-related health disparities. We are especially interested in studies focused on black, Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations; and children living in lower-income rural and urban communities, with the aim of promoting equity.

Types of Studies:

Studies could include any of the following: experimental or quasi-experimental studies; secondary analyses of existing datasets; evaluations of PSE interventions or natural experiments; retrospective analyses of PSE change successes; case studies; financial, economic, or cost-effectiveness studies; health impact assessments; statistical modeling or simulation studies; policy and legal analyses to identify or evaluate promising PSE interventions; and quantitative meta-analyses. Many of these could be the small-scale grants (up to $200,000 and 18 months). The large-scale grants (up to $500,000 and 24 months) could include national cost-effectiveness studies, evaluations of policies, including national implementation studies, or evaluations of PSE changes.

Descriptions of the Round 11 grants awarded through Healthy Eating Research are outlined below.

Overall Study Guidelines for All Grants:

-The two types of awards described in this CFP (Round 11 small and large grants cover the same objectives and types of studies. Where possible, objective measures of health and well-being outcomes are strongly encouraged (e.g., dietary consumption; food/beverage sales or purchases; academic outcomes; behavioral outcomes). Variables likely to affect the impact and feasibility of the policy and environmental changes studied (e.g., demographics, community characteristics, and other contextual variables) should be assessed.

-Target populations are infants, children, and adolescents ages 0 to 18 and their families from lower- income communities and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity and nutrition-related health disparities. Studies focused on lower-income rural or urban communities or populations mentioned on page 3 of the brochure will be prioritized.

-Studies focused solely on behavior change at the individual level or nutrition education interventions will not be funded.

-Studies conducted in real-world settings are preferred. Experimental studies or laboratory simulations must show promise for generalization to real-world settings, especially in lower-income and racial and ethnic minority populations.

-Researchers should seek input from relevant stakeholders—such as advocates, policymakers, school or community leaders, parents, or children— in order to develop feasible, relevant and sustainable studies.

-Proposals should describe the strategies that will be used to communicate research results. Applicants must include at least one representative of the community or stakeholder group targeted (e.g., advocate, community leader, policymaker) as an ongoing adviser. Specific plans should be outlined for communicating and disseminating research results to advocates, decision-makers, policymakers, relevant stakeholders, and scientists.

-When developing the proposal, it is important to take into account that grant extensions and cost extensions are not allowed and an exception would be granted only under rare circumstances. Reasons such as obtaining Institutional Review Board approval or recruitment taking longer than expected will not be approved. Therefore, researchers need to be realistic (and not idealistic) in what can be achieved within the time frame of the grant.

-Awards will be made directly to the principal investigator’s home institution. Indirect costs (up to 12%) are included in the total project awards.

-Proposed projects may be conducted as supplements to existing studies. Project co-funding is welcome; sources and amounts must be fully described in the proposal. The added value of the proposed research grant should be clearly described.

-In order to ensure that HER research is made accessible to a wide and diverse audience, grantees of the HER Round 11 Large-Scale Grants who publish HER data and findings in peer-reviewed publications must do so in open access journals or must include funds in their budgets to cover the cost of making the resulting publications open access.

Selection Criteria:

Invited full proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of HER national program office staff, national advisory committee members, other invited expert reviewers, and RWJF senior staff. The committee will use the following criteria to assess proposals:

-Ability to identify and assess PSE strategies that promote the health and well-being of children at the population-level, specifically focused on helping children and families achieve healthy dietary patterns without excess weight gain and improving healthy food access and security.

-Relevance and timeliness of the study to accelerate evidence-based and equitable PSE solutions for improving children’s nutrition, diet quality, and weight;

-Relevance to the needs of children in lower-income communities and racial and ethnic minority populations at highest risk for diet and weight-related disparities in health and well-being outcomes (specifically, we will assess whether the proposal’s significance, specific aims, research design and methods, and communications plan take into account: intention, ability, and approaches to address health disparities/health equity; and whether the research team, including consultants, has sufficient experience in research that addresses disparities or equity issues or with the populations and settings of interest);

-Degree to which the strategies are widely applicable, feasible, and sustainable;

-Clarity of study goals, hypotheses, methods, and outcomes;

-Use of a clear theoretical framework, conceptual model, or rationale;

-Scientific rigor of proposed research and analytic methods, including quality of the measures and data to be used;

-Research qualifications and experience of the investigator(s) and appropriateness of disciplines and perspectives represented;

-Appropriateness of proposed budget and project time line, including the realistic feasibility of completing the project within the specified funding period;

-Approaches for communicating and disseminating research results to advocates, decision-makers, policymakers, and scientists that go beyond an exclusive focus on peer-reviewed publications and/or academic conference presentations; and

-The presence of any real or perceived conflict of interest (either financial or other personal considerations).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 169949

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Funding is available for up to eight small research grants and two large-scale grants.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each small-scale grant will award up to $200,000.

Each large-scale grant will award up to $500,000.

Term of Contract:

Small-scale grants will be awarded for up to 18 months. Large-scale grants will be awarded for up to 24 months.


Additional Eligibility Criteria:

For All Grant Opportunities
-Preference will be given to applicants that are either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or Type III supporting organizations. The Foundation may require additional documentation.
-Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories.
-The focus of this program is the United States; studies in other countries will be considered only to the extent that they may directly inform U.S. policy.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to building a Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. Achieving this goal requires focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

To that end, the Foundation is committed to fostering diverse perspectives. The Foundation recognizes that individuals’ perspectives are shaped by a host of factors, such as their race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, age, socioeconomic status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, familial status, education, religion, legal status, military service, political affiliation, geography, and other personal and professional experiences.

The Foundation knows that the presence of diverse perspectives alone is not sufficient. Therefore, the Foundation is also committed to creating inclusive environments where all individuals are encouraged to share their perspectives and experiences. The Foundation believes that only through valuing differences and similarities, and remaining vigilant in advancing equity, will the Foundation be able to maintain an equitable workplace and actively pursue equity in all aspects of its work. The Foundation commits to being continuous learners and working alongside others to cultivate equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Total Awards:

Approximately $2.6 million will be awarded under this CFP for the two award types. The anticipated allocation of funds is as follows:

Approximately $1.6 million will be awarded as small-scale grants, resulting in the funding of up to eight small research grants through this solicitation. Each grant will award up to $200,000 for up to 18 months.

Approximately $1 million will be awarded as large-scale grants, resulting in the funding of two large-scale grants through this solicitation. Each grant will award up to $500,000 for up to 24 months.

Pre-proposal Conference:

An optional applicant webinar is scheduled for June 6, 2018 (3 p.m. ET). Registration is required.

Please visit the program’s website for complete details and to register:

Pre-Application Information:

All applicants must submit a concept paper. The deadline to submit concept papers for small- and large-scale grants is July 18, 2018 (3 p.m. ET). Applicants must follow the instructions and use the templates provided in the RWJF online system.

Selected Phase 1 applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. The deadline to submit full proposals for small-scale grants is September 26, 2018 (3 p.m. ET) and October 10, 2018 (3 p.m. ET) for large-scale grants.

Key Dates

-May 23 - July 18, 2018 (3 p.m. ET): RWJF online system available to applicants for concept papers.
-June 6, 2018 (3 p.m. ET): Optional applicant webinar. Registration is required. Please visit the program’s website for complete details and to register.
-July 18, 2018 (3 p.m. ET): Concept papers due. Those submitted after July 18, 2018 (3 p.m. ET) will not be reviewed.
-August 13, 2018: Applicants notified whether they are invited to submit a full proposal.
-March 13–15, 2019: Healthy Eating Research Annual Meeting


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

Duke Global Health Institute
310 Trent Drive
Duke Box 90519
Durham, NC 27708

(800) 578-8636

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)