Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships (LFP) is a diverse collection of innovative programs that work to make better health possible for people in difficult life circumstances. At the heart of our story is leveraging the power of partnership: a national foundation combining resources with local grantmakers to fund creative, pragmatic, community-driven projects.
LFP . . . by the numbers
- First matching grant in 1988
- 355 awards through Annual Grantmaking program
- 14 awards through Peaceful Pathways program
- $130M awarded over 23 years
- Grants in 49 states, D.C. & Puerto Rico
As part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Vulnerable Populations portfolio, we recognize that factors outside of our medical system—such as poverty, violence, inadequate housing or education—contribute significantly to poor health. We also recognize that the best ideas for solving pressing community problems come from members of the communities themselves.
So what do LFP projects have in common? They were each nominated by a local funder and awarded an RWJF Local Funding Partnerships matching grant after a rigorous competitive process. Our selection criteria elicited proposals that focused on the critical relationship between our health and where and how we live, learn, work and play.
Since 1988 each annual application cycle represented a national snapshot of changing community needs related to health and health care. LFP matching grants funded nonprofit organizations across the U.S. focused on improving health where it happens: in our homes, schools and neighborhoods.
- Projects to address newly-identified problems such as the serious mental health needs of children ages 0-to-3 (See Westside Infant-Family Network in West Los Angeles, CA.)
- Culturally responsive services for hidden communities such as programs for Amish children with rare genetic disorders (See DDC Clinic in Middlefield, OH.)
- New solutions for old problems such as treating gun violence like a contagious disease (See CeaseFire in Chicago, IL.)
- Creative approaches such as radio dramas to promote health information in rural African American and Hispanic communities (See Media for Health in Birmingham, AL.)
Please review our diverse portfolio under Search for a Project.
Significant credit goes to the many project directors who brought their passion, insight and leadership to develop fresh approaches to better health: approaches that often challenged established practices, engaged new coalitions, and offered ambitious improvements in systems and services.
LFP projects received their awards through one of our two matching grants programs:
- LFP Annual Program awarded multi-year matching grants of $200,000 to $500,000, 1988–2011.
- Peaceful Pathways: Reducing Exposure to Violence awarded multi-year matching grants of $50,000 to $200,000, 2009–2011.
Grants awarded in 2011 will conclude by 2015.
Our Funding Partners
The more than 20-year evolution of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships is a testament to our partnership model, our collaboration with many different types of local grantmakers, and our respect for the issues and priorities they brought forward from their communities.
Over the three- or four-year life of an RWJF LFP grant, a typical project accrues matching dollars from about nine different funding partners. We have been proud to join our resources with independent and private foundations, family and community foundations, healthcare conversion funds, ethnic and tribal funds, and corporate and other philanthropies.
Often grantmakers are instrumental in a project’s success by encouraging collaboration among organizations that typically do not work together—including established and emerging community groups, human service agencies, public entities, and groups from both inside and outside of the health sector.
Our Work Today
The LFP director and deputy director provide technical guidance, training and metrics to help funded projects sustain their work beyond the period of the LFP grant and become fully rooted in their communities.
Through site visits, annual meetings, webinars, and phone consultations they assist project directors with internal and external communications, organizational structure and board development, evaluation and fundraising, and other nonprofit best practices.
We benefit from the good counsel of our National Advisory Committee—professionals in various aspects of healthcare, grantmaking and nonprofit management who also participate in site visits and share their expertise with grantees and local funders.
Our National Program Office
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships is a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. There are approximately 80–90 RWJF national program offices. Our work falls within the Foundation’s Vulnerable Populations portfolio.
Established in 1987 and awarding its first grants in 1988, LFP is one of RWJF’s longest running national programs. Pauline M. Seitz has been involved in the program’s leadership since its inception—first as the senior program officer, then becoming the national director in 1994.
As it happens, the Local Funding Partnerships office is not far from RWJF in Princeton, NJ. We make our home on the campus of the New Jersey Hospital Association through a grant to the Health Research & Educational Trust of New Jersey.
Common Places, Common Causes, Uncommon Connections
While LFP grantees differ in their pathways to improving health, they have historically shared three distinctive characteristics.
- They focus their efforts where health happens: in Common Places across America’s small towns and big cities, in day care centers and prisons, at workplaces and on street corners.
- They call attention to social factors that have an enormous impact on health: on Common Causes that are often thought to be intractable and require tailored solutions that challenge assumptions and procedures.
- They forge new relationships reaching outside of the health sector: building Uncommon Connections through inclusiveness and respect to motivate the community will necessary to face complex health and social challenges.
At Local Funding Partnerships we have seen how combining these three elements can produce immediate and lasting improvements in people’s health and create change where previous efforts have failed.