Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal: Pioneering Ideas and a Culture of Health

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: US $150,000 - US $350,000

Fields of work: Health & Medicine Epidemiology & Public Health Wellness & Healthy Living Health Disparities & Social Determinants of Health

Applicant type: Nonprofit, For-Profit Business, Government Entity

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program, Research

Location of project: Preferred: United States Other eligible locations: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Preferred: United States Other eligible locations: Anywhere in the world

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NOTE: Applications for the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal Open Call for Ideas funding opportunity are accepted on a rolling basis. Applications for the current year are accepted until the deadline above. We review these applications on a rolling basis. Please allow up to eight weeks for a response.

Pioneering Ideas and a Culture of Health

The goal of the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal funding opportunity is to explore; to look into the future and put health first as we design for changes in how we live, learn, work and play; to wade into uncharted territory in order to better understand what new trends, opportunities and breakthrough ideas can enable everyone in America to live the healthiest life possible.

While improving the status quo is vital to the health and well-being of millions of people in America now, the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal opportunity reaches beyond incremental changes to explore the ideas and trends that will influence the trajectory and future of health. Ultimately, we support work that will help us learn what a Culture of Health can look like—and how we can get there.

What is a Pioneering Idea?

Good question! We don’t want to provide a checklist that limits your thinking—or ours. We do want to give you as clear a picture as we can about the kinds of proposals we hope to see, so you can best assess whether submitting an idea through our Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal process is the right next step for you. Our application form allows you to introduce your idea; if it seems to be a fit for our portfolio we will reach out for more information.

We share some examples below of Pioneering Ideas we have funded in the past to give you a sense of where we’ve been. Keep in mind that ultimately, we need you to challenge us, and to tell us where we should be going and what ideas have the most potential to transform the way we think about health. As you review the examples below, you may notice some shared themes or characteristics which:

  • Challenge assumptions or long-held cultural practices.
  • Take an existing idea and give it a new spin—or a novel application.
  • Offer a new take or perspective on a long-running, perplexing problem.
  • Apply cutting-edge ideas from other fields to health.
  • Explore the potential for emerging trends to impact our ability to build a Culture of Health.

Dollar Amount/Duration

For this funding opportunity, we generally fund projects within the $150,000-$350,000 budget range and with a project term of between 12-36 months.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • We’re open to ideas on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to pioneering strategies for changing norms and behaviors.
  • We’re interested in funding a number of different project types, including research, pilots or demonstration projects, idea sourcing, network or coalition building, and more.
  • Ultimately, we are looking for projects that bring new understanding and raise new questions about the future of health in the United States.
  • The vast majority of our funding is to nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Historically, less than one percent of our funding has been to for-profit organizations, and always in instances where the institution's project is an excellent fit with our strategies and we felt they were best suited to do the work.
  • We recognize that good ideas have no borders, and we fund grants that can help us learn from and adapt global ideas that can help build a Culture of Health in the U.S. RWJF works with Charities Aid Foundation of America on grants to organizations located outside the United States. Additional information about the role of Charities Aid Foundation of America will be provided to organizations invited to submit full proposals.


  • We are eager to hear from people outside of health and health care and from all stages in their careers. Whether you have a degree in health policy or consider yourself to be a pioneering thinker in a field completely outside of health and health care, or if you think your idea is a good fit and will help us explore cutting-edge ways to build a Culture of Health, we want to hear it.


  • There are any number of reasons why RWJF may decide not to fund a specific brief proposal; however, some of the most commonly declined proposals are those that:
    • Fall outside of the Foundation’s general grantmaking guidelines
    • Are similar to projects we are already funding
    • Are not a new idea
    • Are more appropriate for consideration through our Calls for Proposals process
    • Are focused on incremental change


This page was last reviewed September 28, 2021 and last updated June 24, 2021