Call for Proposals FAQs

What is Systems for Action?

Systems for Action (S4A) is a national research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that studies how to align delivery and financing systems for health and social services in ways that support a Culture of Health. S4A uses a wide research lens that includes and extends beyond medical care and public health systems to include other sectors that affect health and well-being, such as housing, transportation, social services, education, criminal and juvenile justice, and economic and community development.

What type of projects are eligible under this Call for Proposals?

This Call for Proposals (CFP) will fund research projects that evaluate the implementation and/or impact of novel strategies for aligning health and social service systems. Two types of studies will be funded: (1) exploratory/developmental studies that evaluate the design and feasibility of novel system alignment strategies; and (2) full-scale research studies that evaluate the impact of novel system alignment strategies.  Proposals that focus purely on implementing a strategy, without a strong scientific approach for evaluating the implementation and/or impact of the strategy, will not be funded.  

What types of organizations are eligible for funding?

Applicants must be either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or non-functionally integrated Type Ill supporting organizations. Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories. Awards will be made to organizations, not to individuals.  Multi-organizational consortia are encouraged to apply as long as a single eligible organization is designated as the primary applicant responsible for maintaining consortium agreements with other participating organizations.

Do the eligibility requirements for applicant organizations also apply to partners?

No, but subcontracts or partner relationships with for-profit entities or entities based outside the United States may require additional financial and/or legal due diligence.

How do I know which funding category is appropriate for my project?

This CFP has two funding categories. Category One (Exploratory/Developmental) awards are for early-phase, proof-of-concept studies that develop and refine the design of a novel mechanism for system alignment and establish the feasibility of the approach.  Studies supported in this category must be completed within 12 months with funding up to $100,000. Applicants should submit proposals under this category if they are testing an alignment mechanism that breaks new ground or are adapting a previously studied approach to a new setting or population group.

Category Two (Individual Research Project) awards will support studies that evaluate the impact of system alignment mechanisms on health and/or economic outcomes of interest, with a priority focus on equity. Studies supported in this category must be completed within 24 months with funding up to $250,000. Applicants should submit proposals under this category if they are utilizing complex and multi-method research designs and analytic strategies that can support sound causal inferences about impact.

Proposals that focus purely on implementing a strategy, without a strong scientific approach for evaluating the implementation and/or impact of the strategy, will not be funded.  

Can I apply to more than one funding category?

No; a research teams may apply to only one funding category.

Can an organization submit multiple proposals?

Yes, an organization may submit more than one proposal as long as each proposal submitted is distinct in terms of both project and research team.

Can I apply for this opportunity if I have previously been or are currently funded by RWJF?

Yes, previously or currently funded RWJF grantees are eligible to apply for this funding opportunity, but the proposed project must be different from previously funded work.

How will my proposal be evaluated?

Category One (Exploratory Developmental) proposals will undergo a one-phase submission and review process. Applicants will submit narrative proposals and information about the project’s budget, staffing, and institutional support. Applications will be reviewed by an external review panel that includes members of the S4A National Advisory Committee and other subject matter experts.  Funding decisions for this category will be made on the original proposal submission. See the CFP for the specific review criteria.

Category Two (individual Research Project) proposals will undergo a two-phase submission and review process. Applicants will first submit Brief Proposals that summarize the proposed project rationale, significance, and approach. Following a thorough review of all Brief Proposals by an external panel that includes members of the S4A National Advisory Committee and other subject matter experts, a limited number of applicants will be invited to submit a Full Proposal containing additional details about project rationale, approach and anticipated accomplishments, along with detailed budgetary information. Final funding decisions for this category will be made on the invited Full Proposal. See the CFP for the specific review criteria.

Are there any priorities or areas of interest?

The S4A program has identified several broad topics of research that are of special interest in the 2017 Call for Proposals (please refer to the CFP for examples).  These topics of interest include:

  • System alignment mechanisms that operate at the community or population level, rather than primarily at the individual household or patient level. 
  • Innovative financing and payment mechanisms that align medical, social, and public health services, including mechanisms for incentivizing and financing cross-sector collaboration.
  • Public deliberation, community engagement, and community decision-making processes as mechanisms for system alignment. 
  • Mechanisms that engage the private sector in aligning medical, social, and public health services, including employers, insurers, and financial institutions.
  • System alignment mechanisms that operate in rural and other low-resource communities. 

What type of investigators should apply?

We are looking for research teams from diverse health and social service fields that have expertise in all three broad types of delivery and financing systems implicated in the S4A research agenda: (1) medical care; (2) public health; and (3) social and community services and supports. This includes investigators from a variety of areas and disciplines, including but not limited to medicine, public health, social work, sociology, business, economics, education, transportation, housing, criminal justice, communication, public policy, political science, and urban planning and community development.

How can I tell if I am applying to the correct RWJF program?

Within the Foundation’s Research, Evaluation, and Learning initiative, RWJF funds a range of research to expand understanding of what will allow everyone in our nation to have an equitable opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, and which types of interventions may have greatest potential for impact. Its three signature research programs, including Systems for Action, work to identify root causes of inequitable health outcomes in America, and potential solutions which engage multiple sectors and disciplines.

The Systems for Action (S4A) program, based at the University of Kentucky within the College of Public Health and the Gatton School of Business and Economics, conducts rigorous research on ways to align, coordinate, and integrate the many delivery and financing systems that promote health and well-being on a population-wide basis, including medical, public health, and social services and supports sectors.

The Policies for Action (P4A) program, based at the Urban Institute, investigates how policies, laws, regulatory changes, systems interventions, and community dynamics can be leveraged to support population health, well-being, and equity. P4A is building a robust, actionable evidence base on how these critical levers can advance a Culture of Health, with a goal of delivering these data and insights to key policymakers, community leaders, and other change agents. (Call for Proposals is currently closed)

The Evidence for Action (E4A) program, based at the University of California, San Francisco, awards grants to encourage and support innovative, rigorous research on the impact of programs, policies, and partnerships on health and well-being, with a particular focus on research that will help advance health equity. It is the broadest of the three programs – it does not have a formal research agenda, and it funds across all areas of the Culture of Health Action Framework. Learn more about E4A’s rolling application process.

To learn more about additional current and upcoming RWJF funding opportunities of interest visit the Foundation’s Funding Opportunities page and/or use RWJF’s new Program Finder tool to identify programs that may align with your interests and goals.

If I am not chosen for this funding opportunity can I apply for another RWJF grant opportunity?

Yes, interested applicants may apply for other RWJF grants. You must actively submit to other opportunities in which you are interested as proposals declined by S4A will not automatically be considered by other programs.

What is the deadline for submitting proposals?

Proposals must be submitted through the RWJF Online system by May 5, 2017 at 3:00pm ET. Late applications will not be permitted. You will be required to register at MYRWJF at https://my.rwjf.org before you begin the application process. For Category Two applicants that are invited to submit full proposals, the deadline is August 1, 2017 at 3:00pm ET.