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Culture of Health Leaders

Opportunity for USA Individuals to Participate
in a Public Health Leadership Development Program

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

02/21/18 3:00 PM ET Receipt


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A program is available to USA and territories individuals affiliated with qualifying institutions to participate in a leadership development program addressing public health issues in the United States. The intention of this program is to bring together a diverse cohort from across multiple sectors to collaborate on developing health equity and acquire the leadership skills needed to effectively promote health.

The sponsoring institution must be an organization based in the United States or its territories and willing to receive the funds from RWJF. Sponsoring institutions should have the administrative and financial capacity and experience to accept the award and to be able to distribute funds in a manner that is consistent with the permitted use of funds described herein, and within the approved budget. The sponsoring institution will be responsible for signing a letter of agreement with RWJF and submitting brief annual financial reports to the Foundation.


Culture of Health Leaders is a three-year national leadership development program designed to bring together a diverse array of individuals across multiple sectors to:
-Develop advanced leadership skills to take their leadership and influence to the next level to build a Culture of Health in America; and,
-Collaborate in unique and creative ways to create a more equitable, healthy future for all people.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recognizes that the nation’s ability to tackle difficult health challenges depends on the skills and creativity of its leaders. However, many people in leadership roles have not had the benefit of formal leadership training, the opportunity to work with skilled mentors and coaches, the chance to network with and learn from others who are faced with similar challenges, and the opportunity to build and contribute to a network of leaders advancing health, well-being and equity. Through the Culture of Health Leaders program, leaders will develop and use an equity lens—the perspective through which an individual views conditions and circumstances to assess who experiences benefits and who experiences burdens as a result of a program, policy or practice. They will challenge, dismantle, and recreate their own perspectives, as well as the systems and structures that perpetuate health inequities—a prerequisite to building a Culture of Health.


As a country, the USA faces critical health challenges—challenges that demand new and different solutions, challenges that require us all to work together more than ever before. Life expectancy varies widely based on where people grow up, live, work, and play. As a nation, Americans spend more for their health care than any other developed nation, yet the quality of health care and overall health status don’t reflect that investment. The population is increasingly diverse, yet inequities in health care and health persist.

That’s why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to working and collaborating with all to build a Culture of Health to enable all in the nation’s diverse society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come. RWJF believes health should be a fundamental and guiding social value—and that America should become a nation in which promoting health is as important as treating illness.

The Foundation recognizes that the USA needs a new kind of leader to build a Culture of Health. The USA needs leaders who refuse to be siloed, leaders who refuse to do things the way they have always been done, leaders from all walks of life who reflect the marvelous diversity of the nation. The Foundation has been investing in leadership from its earliest days, and the current programs are built on the solid foundation laid by those programs.

The four newest programs, which include Culture of Health Leaders, as well as Health Policy Research Scholars, Clinical Scholars, and Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, are designed to equip just that kind of leader—leaders with the skills they need to create and sustain a Culture of Health. These programs aim to connect people across sectors as well as disciplines, capitalize on technology to promote collaboration and mentoring, and reach and support more people. The Foundation believes participation in these programs will lead to enriching and lifelong partnerships with other participants and the Foundation as agencies work together to build and strengthen healthy practices. The Foundation also expects that alumni of these new programs will serve as valuable role models and mentors to future participants.

These programs are part of a broader spectrum of leadership programs that RWJF offers to leaders across sectors at varying stages of their careers.

The Foundation’s other leadership programs include:
-Summer Health Professions Education Program is a free summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions.
-ASTHO Leadership Institute aims to accelerate the leadership development of new state/territorial health officials as policymakers, administrators, and advocates for the health of the public.
-Harold Amos Faculty Development Program is designed to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who can achieve senior rank in academic medicine, dentistry, or nursing.

The Foundation’s goal is to help build the next generations of leaders—leaders who will collaborate across sectors to upend the status quo, address health disparities, and take bold steps to achieve greater equity in communities across the country.

The Program:

The Culture of Health Leaders program provides cross-sector leadership development based on evidence, informed by experience, and grounded in principles of equity and social justice. These principles inform all aspects of the program design, tools, recruitment, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination—and more importantly, they guide how the program is designed for participants.

This three-year program will develop a large group of leaders from diverse sectors (e.g., for-profit/business, government, nonprofit, social enterprise) to work with organizations, communities, health systems, and policymakers to build a Culture of Health in America. Within each of these sectors, leaders focused on technology, education, housing, transportation, business, the arts, and many other disciplines and focus areas play key roles in building a Culture of Health. The Foundation welcomes applications from individuals who are highly motivated and ready to lead and collaborate within and across sectors.

This year, the program will select up to 40 individuals for the 2018 cohort; these leaders will engage in structured, in-person and web-based leadership development experiences, as well as intentional network building with colleagues across sectors. These individuals will work within and across organizations to spread the Culture of Health message to their stakeholders and communities. They will have access to professional coaches and experts in a variety of fields. During the program, leaders will establish a team to catalyze and sustain their impact. In their third year, they will initiate a bold initiative to build a Culture of Health in their community.

Program Content & Activities:

The Culture of Health Leaders curriculum and experience is designed to develop and support leaders through a process that results in their mastery of self, relationships, environment, and change. Participants should anticipate spending 32-38 hours per month throughout the three-year program in a combination of distance-learning and in-person meetings (up to three each year, including the RWJF Annual Leadership Institute, are required). Leaders are involved in the following activities:

-Individual leadership development plans that include self-assessments, personal leadership development goals, and plans for sustaining leadership development and impact after the program is completed;
-Intensive executive coaching from expert coaches;
-Self-directed, individual leadership development activities and implementation of a bold leadership project to be identified in year 2 using data and rapid-cycle learning; and
-Cross-sector networking to harness and leverage the collective power of individuals, their networks, communities, and organizations.

Program focus areas include:

-Social and economic determinants of health: understand equity; social justice; the production of health; the root causes of health inequities; and the evidence base for successful strategies to improve health outcomes, particularly among populations with the greatest need.

-Power analysis, policy, and systems change: examine how power and influence shape policy, including how to assess the equity and health impacts of current or proposed policies; build public will for action; and collaborate with policymakers.

-Community readiness, engagement, and mobilization: identify community assets, resources, and skills; “democratize” data; and learn from on-the-ground organizers and community leaders how to engage and mobilize communities.

-Understanding and navigating cultures: identify, navigate, and manage the interaction of the diverse cultures within communities, including the organizations and systems that comprise them.

-Social entrepreneurship: explore emerging roles for leaders in new models of systems, social, and institutional change.

-Futures training and change management: use change management methodologies and tools focused on individual, organizational, social, and systems change—to develop bold visions and set goals that are not constrained by conventional or current thinking.

Participants will work with their sponsoring institutions to determine how the stipends will be used to support the participants’ successful completion of the program, for example, defraying salary/release time; living expenses; consultant fees; relevant conference/workshop registration fees; travel; supplies; and executive education. In keeping with RWJF policy, grant funds may not be used to support clinical trials of unapproved drugs or devices; to construct or renovate facilities; for lobbying; for political activities; or as a substitute for funds currently being used to support similar activities.

Project funds for bold community-based initiatives that promote a Culture of Health may also be available. These resources can be used to implement and evaluate the initiative in year 3. Leaders may also be eligible to receive additional financial support from the national program center, if needed, to facilitate their participation in the program. Please direct inquiries to the national program center.

Selection Criteria:

This program attracts a number of highly qualified applicants. To be competitive, applicants should consider the following selection criteria:

-The eligibility criteria described above;
-Application materials, including the video and references, are completed according to the guidelines;
-Application responses demonstrate a commitment to addressing social change, equity, and other critical challenges to building a Culture of Health in organizations, communities, systems, and the nation;
-Capacity and willingness to learn (in collaboration with other leaders) through action, reflection, critical feedback, and support;
-Demonstrate a readiness to collaborate across disciplines and sectors;
-Evidence of a strong employment and/or service history that reflects increasing leadership responsibility (formal and/or informal) and the desire and potential to achieve higher levels of leadership effectiveness;
-Evidence of a vision and passion to make a substantial impact on equitable conditions within their communities, sectors, or organizations to support health and well-being;
-Demonstration of insight, courage, and evidence of a commitment to ongoing personal growth and development; and,
-Commitment to participate in all scheduled activities, including the following in-person meetings:
-Applicant semifinalist interviews: between May 15–24, 2018, Washington, D.C.
-Program orientation: October 2018
-RWJF Annual Leadership Institute: January 13–17, 2019, Indianapolis.
-Program convening: January 2019 and July 2019

Diversity Statement:

Consistent with RWJF values, this program embraces diversity and inclusion across multiple dimensions, such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, age and socioeconomic status. The Foundation strongly encourages applications in support of individual candidates who will help expand the perspectives and experiences. The Foundation believes that the more it includes diverse perspectives and experiences in its work, the more successful it will be able to bring about a Culture of Health.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179172

Number of Grants:

The program will select up to 40 leaders for the 2018 cohort.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each leader will have access to a stipend of up to $20,000 per year for three years (total of up to $60,000). Additional tools and resources, including funding of up to $35,000, may be available for year 3 project-related activities. Leaders may also be eligible to receive additional support, if needed, to facilitate their participation in the program.

Term of Contract:

The program begins September 1, 2018.

Selected leaders will receive a stipend and program benefits for three years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The sponsoring institution must be an organization based in the United States or its territories and willing to receive the funds from RWJF. Sponsoring institutions should have the administrative and financial capacity and experience to accept the award and to be able to distribute funds in a manner that is consistent with the permitted use of funds described herein, and within the approved budget. The sponsoring institution will be responsible for signing a letter of agreement with RWJF and submitting brief annual financial reports to the Foundation.

Eligibility Criteria:
-The program is open to individuals from a variety of disciplines—such as technology; the arts; public policy; business; community development and planning; education; transportation; public health; health care; and others—who are committed to working with organizations, communities, health systems, and policymakers to build a Culture of Health in America.
-Applicants must be at least 21 years old as of September 1, 2018.
-Federal, state, tribal and local government employees who are not considered government officials1 under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code are eligible to apply.
-Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. Changes in federal policy or law may necessitate that we consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms.
-Individuals whose official job description or responsibilities are primarily government relations are not eligible to apply.
-Individual candidates for receipt of award funds cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The Foundation encourages interested candidates to participate in an optional applicant web conference call scheduled for January 16, 2018 from 3:30 - 4:30 PM ET. You must register in advance. The webinar will be recorded and available on the program’s website for those who are unable to participate.

A second webinar will be held for potential applicants of all four leadership programs on January 23, 2018, 3:00 - 4:00 PM ET.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be received by February 21, 2018, 3:00 PM ET.

Representatives from the national program center, the national advisory committee (NAC), and RWJF staff will review each application based on the criteria above. Semifinalists will be required to participate in in- person interviews with a program team consisting of program center staff, RWJF staff, and advisory committee members. Semifinalists must be present for the in-person interviews to be eligible for selection. The interviews will be scheduled during May 15–24, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Candidates who are unavailable for the interviews will not receive special consideration in future years.

After the semifinalist interviews are completed, the NAC and the national program center will make recommendations to RWJF, and RWJF will make the final decisions. Finalists will be required to provide additional information, including a form completed by each individual’s sponsoring institution documenting that the organization is willing to fulfill the requirements as a sponsoring institution and a form completed by the individual’s employer (s) acknowledging the employee’s potential participation in the program.

Key Dates:
-January 16, 2018: Optional webinar for applicants interested in Culture of Health Leaders
-January 23, 2018: Webinar for potential applicants of all four leadership programs
-February 21, 2018 (3 p.m. ET) Deadline for receipt of full applications, including video and references.
-May 15–May 24, 2018: Semifinalist interviews (attendance required).
-Mid-June 2018: Notification of finalists.
-July 2018: Deadline for receipt of finalist supplemental applications.
-September 1, 2018: Program begins. Stipend funding initiated for program participants.
-October 2018: Program orientation (attendance required).
-January 13–17, 2019: RWJF Annual Leadership Institute, Indianapolis. (attendance required).


Contact Information:

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

Register for the January 16 webinar:

Register for the January 23 webinar:

Apply Online:

Theresa Lewallen, MA, Deputy Director
(202) 765-2500

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;   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)