The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the nation’s largest foundation dedicated to improving health and health care for all Americans. The Healthy Communities team helps create the conditions for communities and their residents to reach their best possible well-being. The team was eager to take stock of trends in the field and to strengthen the Foundation’s strategies based on external input and structured reflection.
RWJF engaged Bennett Midland to help identify cross-cutting patterns to support strategy refinement. The central goal of our work was to synthesize key trends and insights about barriers and opportunities to improve health and health equity in communities. We conducted three workshops—in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Mobile—leveraging human-centered design techniques to engage in candid conversations with residents and city leaders about the connections between health, the built environment, economic stability, and social cohesion. This direct engagement with community members was supplemented by a wide-ranging literature review of books, scholarly articles, and media stories.
As the culmination of our work, Bennett Midland synthesized our findings and created a cohesive set of “themes” to support the Foundation’s reflection about strategies to increase health and health equity in the United States. We also documented our approaches so that the Foundation could revisit and augment the research exercise in the future.