At more than 4 million strong, nurses are the largest part of the health care workforce, and a powerful force capable of helping more Americans become and stay healthy.

Seeking to tap that great potential is the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, the synthesis of three mission-oriented organizations: AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to improving health and health care, works across sectors to build a Culture of Health. The Foundation partners with communities to change local conditions; supports research to improve children’s physical, social, and emotional well-being; and develops and connects leaders prepared to collaborate in creating a Culture of Health. Nurses are central to the Foundation’s efforts to allow everyone to live the healthiest life they can.

Nursing is a strong part of AARP as well, with its mission of empowering people to choose how they live as they age. When AARP created the Center to Champion Nursing in America in 2007 with a grant from RWJF, it sought to answer the need for all Americans to have access—in all settings—to highly skilled nurses, now and in the future. The fact that AARP and its state affiliates serve millions of consumers made it an ideal organization to join with RWJF to position the nursing profession to create a healthier America.

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Guiding the work of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is a 2010 report from the then-named Institute of Medicine, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which sees the nursing profession as key to providing Americans better access to the care they need. The report recommends strengthening nursing to improve Americans’ health and health care—and was directed at health care organizations and providers, policymakers, businesses, educators, and nurses themselves.

The report raised awareness of inequities in health and health care even while providing a blueprint for how nursing could be a solution. In the years since the IOM – now known as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) – published its report, RWJF and AARP have increasingly focused on nursing’s unique ability to address these disparities.

As well as funding the initial IOM report, RWJF funded a second one, in 2015. That progress report urged greater efforts be made especially on creating a more diverse nursing workforce to help underserved communities. And the NAM has begun research on nursing’s next decade, for a Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report.

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is coordinated by the Center to Champion Nursing in America and housed in AARP’s Public Policy Institute, with a director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a chief strategist at AARP. The Campaign carries out its work through Action Coalitions in nearly every state and Washington, DC.

Nurses are embedded throughout the community in ways other health practitioners are not. Together, RWJF and AARP are working to position the profession to be a more powerful part of improving health and health equity.