Robert Wood Johnson Foundation renews support for health reporting and communications initiative.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation renews support for health reporting and communications initiative

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded a $1.3 million, two-year grant to Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to tackle the problems of health disparities in the Southwest.

The Southwest Health Reporting and Communications Initiative will continue to provide award-winning student journalism on health issues related to underserved communities and people of color, with a particular focus on Hispanic and Indigenous communities. Now entering its fourth year, the initiative will expand, integrating a public relations campaign, community education outreach, and digital marketing strategies aimed at the Spanish-speaking parents of young children.

The project will also seek to inform public officials, health care providers and other stakeholders about the concerns and challenges surrounding health and health care in underserved communities across the Southwest. 

“One of our priorities is to ensure that journalists and communicators improve their coverage of inequities and marginalized communities,” said Battinto L. Batts Jr, dean of the Cronkite School. “Thanks to the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this program will help raise awareness of health issues that are unique to the Southwest while helping to educate residents who are affected. The Cronkite School is grateful for the opportunity to continue this important partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” 

Under the grant, the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative, part of Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, will continue to produce comprehensive coverage of health issues in a region that encompasses Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, southern California and Texas.

RWJF’s increased support will create a focused strategic communications initiative, enabling the Cronkite School’s Public Relations and Digital Audience labs and Arizona PBS’s educational outreach program to design two extensive multimedia Spanish-language public health information campaigns, specifically geared toward providing critical health information to Spanish-speaking parents. 

The funding will make possible three Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Graduate Assistantships for graduate students participating in the program that will cover the full cost of tuition, fees and health insurance, plus a stipend. 

The grant also will enable the Cronkite School to recruit a director of health equity information with expertise in health care marketing and communications to help lead the expanded initiative. 

The health reporting team’s work has been featured in outlets such as The Associated Press, PBS NewsHour, Univision, Indian Country Today, The Washington Times and NPR member station KJZZ, as well as in publications in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. 

The team has won student and professional journalism awards from the Education Writers Association, Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, the News Leaders Association Batten Medal for Coverage of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Broadcast Education Association and Hearst Journalism Awards.

Earlier this year, the team was asked to collaborate with The Carter Center, the Atlanta-based human rights nonprofit founded by former President and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, to collaborate on a national reporting project focused on improving mental health equity. The RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative is the only university program included in the partnership.

About the Cronkite School
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs and has received international acclaim for its innovative use of the “teaching hospital” model. Rooted in the time-honored values that characterize its namesake — accuracy, responsibility, objectivity, integrity — the school fosters journalistic excellence and ethics in both the classroom and in its 13 professional programs that fully immerse students in the practice of journalism and related fields. Arizona PBS, one of the nation’s largest public television stations, is part of Cronkite, making it the largest media outlet operated by a journalism school in the world. Learn more at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. Support for this program was provided in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at