Jonas Center Highlighted in Health Affairs for Supporting Nurses Focused on Environmental Health

Foundation Funding For The Nursing Profession

Compiled and written by Lee L. Prina, Senior Editor, Health Affairs

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of registered nurses (RNs) is expected to increase “16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations [7 percent].” Nurses are in demand for several reasons, including the country’s aging population; the need to care for people with chronic conditions, such as arthritis and obesity, and educate them about their conditions; and the increased number of people with health insurance, as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The BLS notes that the supply of new nurses entering the labor market has increased in recent years, leading to competition for jobs in some markets. However, the need to replace RNs who are retiring will create opportunities for many new nurses.

As of May 2016 nineteen states were “actively pursuing legislation to modernize their state laws to allow nurse practitioners [NPs] to practice to the top of their education and training,” Sue Hassmiller, senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), told Health Affairs. State medical associations continue to oppose such legislation, even in states with significant primary care shortages and where access to care is markedly reduced. The Future of Nursing’s Campaign for Action, a joint effort by AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the RWJF, noted in March 2016 that since the campaign began, eight states have “removed statutory barriers” preventing NPs “from providing care to the full extent” of their education and training, she said.

Here are some examples of foundation funding related to the vital nursing profession.

Clinical Practice

The Helene Fuld Health Trust, the largest US private funder exclusively devoted to nursing students and nursing education, awarded $6.5 million to the Ohio State University College of Nursing to establish “a landmark national institute on evidence-based practice,” to be launched in October 2017, according to an April 2016 press release. The institute will be a “national hub” for teaching best practices for improving quality of care and patient outcomes, working with health systems to implement and sustain evidence-based practices, and studying the best ways “to translate evidence-based interventions into real world clinical settings.” Among specific activities funded under the grant will be a website with information about best practices and other resources, as well as national webinars and summits “on the best and latest evidence to guide the best nursing practice.”

Vulnerable Populations

The John A. Hartford Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration are current funders of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing. Based at the New York University College of Nursing, the institute focuses on developing an interprofessional workforce that is skilled “in addressing issues of aging” so that elders have “optimal health and quality of life.” The institute also aims to implement care models that “assure better outcomes, improved patient experiences and cost effective care” for older adults, according to its website. For example, the institute seeks to advocate for better care for older adults and, by partnering with influential stakeholders, to shape policy related to such care.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), an evidence-based, early-intervention program serving low-income women expecting their first child, has been widely replicated in diverse communities and populations, according to the program’s website. Each woman is partnered with an RN and receives nurse visits at home until the child’s second birthday. Current major funders include the Charles and Helen Schwab, Edna McConnell Clark, Episcopal Health, Laura and John Arnold, Overdeck Family, and Rita & Alex Hillman Foundations and other organizations. Many local funders also support the program, in operation for nearly forty years. The program works well, according to randomized controlled trials that showed, for example, that it could achieve a 56 percent reduction in emergency department visits for accidents and poisonings among children in their second year of life, and a 67 percent decrease in behavioral and intellectual problems among six-year-olds. The program not only strengthens families but also saves money for local, state, and federal governments. The program—now in forty-three states, the US Virgin Islands, and six tribal communities—is based on the pioneering work of David Olds of the University of Colorado Denver.

Judy Woodruff, in introducing a March 18, 2016, PBS NewsHour segment on the NFP, called it “a political rarity: an expanding health program supported by Democrats and Republicans.”

In February 2016 Gov. Nikki Haley (R), other state officials, and some private-sector leaders launched the South Carolina Nurse-Family Partnership’s Pay for Success project, which brings the NFP program to 3,200 additional first-time mothers and their babies in the Palmetto State. In a press release, Christian L. Soura, director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said that “the Pay for Success model changes the way that [the South Carolina state] government does business, by promoting evidence-based policy and making payments contingent upon actual measured outcomes.” Funders include theBlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the Duke Endowment.


In April 2016, long after its publication in 2010, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health was at the top of the Institute of Medicine’s most-read list of reports. Funded by the RWJF, the report “envisioned expanded roles for nurses in the fast-changing US health care system,” wrote Sue Hassmiller in a 2013 GrantWatch article.

The RWJF is lead funder of the Future of Nursing Scholars program, which announced its third cohort of grantees in February 2016. Thirty-two nursing schools across the country—from the University of Washington to the University of Alabama at Birmingham—received funding to support one or two PhD students. Each school chooses the scholar or scholars, each of whom receives a $75,000 scholarship as well as training in “leadership, research, and other skills,” according to a press release. Training related to science, research, teaching, administration, and policy is offered. Those skills will help scholars “take their nursing careers to the highest levels.” Hassmiller noted in the release that “enrollment in doctorate of nursing practice [DNP] programs has increased an incredible 160% from 2010 to 2014.” But enrollment in PhD programs has increased only 14.6 percent, she added. (According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a DNP degree is focused on clinical practice; a PhD degree, on research.)

The program’s other current foundation funders include Independence Blue Cross Foundation and a Michigan funders collaborative (consisting of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Metro Health, Ethel and James Flinn, and DMC Foundations, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan). Johnson & Johnson and several care providers also fund the program. Cofunders may change each year, the RWJF notes on its website.

The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare announced in an April 2016 press release that it was expanding its Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars Program “to support students pursuing doctoral degrees with a focus on researching environmental pollutants.” In cases of exposure to agricultural chemicals and water containing lead, for example, “nurses are in the best position to spot early symptoms of overexposure and to advocate for policy solutions to minimize environmental hazards,” Donald Jonas, cofounder of the center, said in the release. The Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund supports the center, which will be housed at Columbia University’s School of Nursing beginning in 2017, thanks to a ten-year, $11.1 million grant from the center to the university. The center, which awards grants and receives donations, marked its tenth anniversary in February 2016. It has partnered with foundations such as the Ahmanson Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Mayday Fund, and several others.

Independence Blue Cross Foundation, which funds in southeastern Pennsylvania, has a Nurses for Tomorrow program. It “focuses on advancing the nursing workforce through education, career development, and research,” according to a February 2016 press release. In 2015 the program awarded more than $1.7 million in scholarship grants to twenty-two nursing schools for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. Also in 2015 the foundation and the National League for Nursing cohosted a national conference attended by more than 500 nurses and health care leaders. The meeting focused on increasing nurses’ “executive leadership presence” and improving patient care through leadership, the release said.

The Fuld Trust, based in New York City, also established the Fuld Palliative Care Fellowship program in 2014. Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, the grantee, “aims to develop nurse leaders” who can have an effect on palliative care, a health care sector that is growing as increasing numbers of people in the United States face life-threatening and chronic illnesses, the nursing school’s website explains. The fellowship prepares nurses to work in a team with chaplains, physical therapists, physicians, and social workers to help relieve the pain, stress, and other symptoms stemming from serious illnesses. The ultimate goal is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Emory says that its nursing school chooses two fellows annually, who have an opportunity to work on clinical initiatives, policy development, and research. The Fuld grant includes funding not only for scholarships and mentoring of fellows but also for palliative care education for other nursing students.

Key Personnel Changes

The Duke Endowment’s president, Gene Cochrane, has retired. He joined the foundation in 1980 and became its president in 2005. Cochrane “helped elevate the importance of evaluation in the Endowment’s work and bolstered communications to share lessons learned,” according to an April 2016 announcement. Rhett Mabry took over as president July 1, 2016. He has been with the endowment since 1992, most recently as vice president.

Donald F. Schwarz

has been named vice president, program, at the RWJF. He guides the funder’s strategies and works with others to build a Culture of Health in the United States, with the goal of having everyone live “the healthiest life possible,” according to a press release. A board-certified physician, Schwarz was previously an RWJF director.

Rani Snyder

has been named the new program director at The John A. Hartford Foundation. She returns to the foundation, where she began her career in 1992. Most recently, Snyder was CEO for the Nevada Medical Center. She has also worked for the Commonwealth Fund and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Rachael Watman,

formerly a senior program officer at The John A. Hartford Foundation, is now the vice president of programs at the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation.

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