Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards $7.8 Million to YMCA of the USA

The YMCA of the USA has announced a two-year, $7.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand its Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative from six states to twenty.

Launched in 2009 with funding from RWJF, Statewide PHC works to address the childhood obesity epidemic through policy and environmental changes at the community and state level. Through the initiative, local Ys convene state and community leaders, who work to develop and implement sustainable strategies that support healthy living in their communities.

To date, thirty-two communities in six states — Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee — have participated in the initiative, implementing strategies such as bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into neighborhoods where there are few or no healthy food options; giving parents peace of mind by making safe walking routes to schools possible; working with schools to increase physical education during the school day; and working with afterschool programs to provide additional opportunities outside the school day for physical activity.

With the additional funding, YMCA alliances in California, Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin will be able to participate in the initiative.

"The Y and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have a mutual commitment to ensuring that our nation's children grow to be healthy, happy and strong," said YMCA of the USA president and CEO Neil Nicoll. "Our work together over the past three years has resulted in community- and state-level changes that will help children and their families live healthier lives for years to come. We are grateful to be able to continue this important relationship."