No. 12: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“Good health is the bedrock of prosperity"


It’s probably no wonder that the United States’ largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health is the brainchild of the founder of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson, known as “The General” because he served in World War II.

The products his firm have created, such as Savlon, Neutrogena and Listerine, have become staples in many households across the world. When Johnson died in 1968, he left his 10.2m shares (then worth about £770m) to the foundation.

In the 1970s, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was instrumental in the creation of the national 911 emergency medical- response system across the US, and in the 1990s it helped to put tobacco control on the agenda.

On 9 November, together with the Reinvestment Fund, the RWJF announced the launch of Invest Health, a pioneering, multi-sector initiative that will align people, strategies and capital to improve health in cities across the country. The initiative aims to transform the way city leaders work together to help communities thrive, with specific attention to factors that drive health in low-income neighborhoods, including a scarcity of quality jobs, affordable housing and nutritious food, high crime rates and unhealthy environmental conditions.

“Good health is the bedrock of prosperity, so it’s more important than ever that we invest in communities where health challenges are greatest,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, RWJF director. “Invest Health aims to give all families — especially in places hit hardest by poverty and poor health — the opportunity and the means to live the healthiest life possible.