Funded Projects

The Policies for Action program (P4A) funds research identifying policies, laws, and other regulatory tools in the public and private sectors that can support RWJF’s mission to build a Culture of Health.

Research is conducted at institutions across the United States. The projects by our Research Hubs and other grantees investigate policies and laws that are traditionally and directly correlated with health outcomes, but also nontraditional areas of focus that influence population health, well-being and equity — including policies and regulations from areas such as education, economics, transportation, justice, and housing.

Funded Projects

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Many hourly workers, especially in the retail sector, contend with unstable and unpredictable work schedules in which the number of hours, the days of the week, and the times of day that they work vary substantially from week to week. This chronic instability is likely to negatively affect workers and could also have spillover effects for children.

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

While there is an extensive and growing research literature on the benefits of paid parental leave, few studies have examined the impacts of paid family leave on caring for elderly family members. Yet families that take advantage of these policies may actually be helping to lower state costs in other areas. Arora and Wolf (2018) estimate that paid family leave reduced elderly nursing home utilization by 11 percent in California relative to an empirically matched group of control states.

Principal Investigator: Heidi Hartmann - Institute for Women's Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s (IWPR) simulation model estimates the costs and benefits of paid leave for six common leave types, using data largely derived from the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Survey. The types include 1) own serious medical condition; 2) maternity and childbirth; 3) new child care following birth, adoption, or foster placement; 4) care for spouse; 5) care for children; and 6) care for parents.

Principal Investigator: Heidi Hartmann - Institute for Women's Policy Research

Income is considered one of the key underlying social determinants of health. However, there has been relatively limited research on the health effects of policies designed to increase income for vulnerable families.

Principal Investigator: Sylvia Allegretto - University of California, Berkeley

Childhood vaccines play a major role in minimizing the incidence of vaccine-preventable disease. While all states accommodate medical vaccine exemptions, certain states also allow for waivers on the basis of religious or philosophical objections.

Principal Investigator: Avi Dor - George Washington University

In 2016, the Chicago Police Department developed a pilot pre-arrest diversion strategy, the Westside Narcotics Diversion and Treatment Initiative (WNDTI), to respond to the opioid crisis in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. The goal was to encourage police officers to redirect low-level drug offenders (users and sellers) to treatment, instead of jail and prosecution. This strategy was modeled after a promising program in Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

Principal Investigator: Harold Pollack - University of Chicago

Springfield, Massachusetts is a mid-sized city with a large community of color population experiencing socioeconomic and health inequities. Historically there has been little infrastructure in Springfield to support active transportation and recreational walking and biking, so in 2015, Springfield City Council adopted a city-wide “Complete Streets” resolution.

Principal Investigator: Kathleen Szegda - Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts

In response to research on food deserts across the country, scholars and public health practitioners are encouraging limited service food stores, like discount stores, to expand their healthy food selections and accept SNAP and WIC benefits. By becoming WIC-authorized, these stores would be required to carry a certain number of healthy food items, which can improve food access in low-income communities that may lack a full-line grocery store.

Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Racine - UNC Charlotte

Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) currently comprise nearly a quarter of US expenditures on children. The programs have the potential to significantly reduce health and socioeconomic disparities, yet little is known about the impact of these programs on later generations’ health and well-being. 

Principal Investigator: Marianne Page - UCD Center for Poverty Research, University of California Davis

The U.S. is one of three industrialized countries without universal access to paid sick leave. Thirty-five percent of all full-time employees lack this coverage. Among low-income and part-time employees, uninsurance rates exceed 80 percent. In addition to concerns about inequality, worker well-being, and productivity, a lack of paid sick leave also contributes to the spread of disease, when ill workers are forced to choose between their health and their job.

Principal Investigator: Nicolas R. Ziebarth - Department for Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University