Anchor institutions are broadly defined as organizations that are rooted in their local communities by mission, invested capital, and relationships to employees, customers, and vendors. They are key economic drivers, often the largest holders of real estate and the leading source of employment in many communities. While it is well-accepted that nonprofit universities and hospitals are anchor institutions, a more expansive definition includes the for-profit or business sector—recognizing the unique and powerful role companies play in the communities where they are located. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Understanding and Supporting Anchor Businesses to Build a Culture of Health program, supported by AcademyHealth, aims to examine the ways that for-profit businesses advance health and well-being in the communities where they are located.
In October 2019, RWJF announced five grants under this program. The grantees are now working to identify and describe anchor businesses across the country. Study topics range from how energy companies address social determinants of health to how for-profit hospitals promote health, economic security and equity in their communities. Other studies will examine why some businesses have invested in community development while others have not. See below for descriptions of 2019 Awarded Grants.