Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards $450,000 to the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation

Grant supports building ties between corporations and business education to create a healthier and more sustainable society

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (Oct. 15, 2018) – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $450,000 to the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation (RICSI) to further its mission to prepare the next generation of business leaders by integrating social innovation, sustainability and shared value creation into Rutgers Business School’s curriculum.

The funding will support curriculum development by building collaborative networks between corporations and faculty committed to providing students the education, skills and will to drive sustainable and socially responsible enterprises to create healthy communities across New Jersey, the country, and beyond.

RICSI was founded by Gary Cohen, RC ’80 and RBS ’83, through his intent to contribute $1 million to the Rutgers University Foundation to ensure that future business leaders are prepared to drive progress in addressing the world’s most pressing issues.

“As educators of future business leaders, we want to impart our students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in business, and we also want to instill a mindset that being a business leader means being a force for positive change,” said Lei Lei, Dean of Rutgers Business School.

According to RICSI co-director Michael Barnett, professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School, corporate social innovation (CSI) integrates a company’s full range of capabilities and assets within innovative business models to achieve positive societal impact while advancing the success and sustainability of the enterprise.  “With CSI, firms utilize their core competencies and commercial capabilities to directly fill social needs,” said Barnett.

“With more than 29 schools and colleges at Rutgers University to partner with, we are able to tackle social issues from a business standpoint from any angle,” said Jeana Wirtenberg, RICSI co-director and associate professor of professional practice at Rutgers Business School.

Cohen, who is executive vice president of global health for BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, is deeply experienced in collaborating across the public and private sectors and developing innovative business models for positive societal impact on a global scale.

Starting in the late 1980s, BD developed a broad range of safety-engineered needles designed to reduce the risk of needle stick injuries that can spread disease to health workers.  And responding to concerns expressed at that time by international health agencies such as UNICEF and WHO about the spread of hepatitis and HIV to children from reuse of needles used for mass immunizations, BD developed a new, low-cost device that physically locks after one use, eliminating that source of disease spread.

Cohen and BD have collaborated with the U.S. government to strengthen health systems and improve diagnostic testing in sub-Saharan Africa, are developing a new innovation to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and are engaging globally to combat antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest threats to the health and well-being of the world’s population. 

“We are very pleased to have someone in the RBS family who is very experienced in the principles of corporate social innovation,” said Lei.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit

About Rutgers Business School

Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick stands on the principles of academic excellence, cutting-edge research and public service that have defined Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey for more than 250 years. Today, Rutgers Business School is educating more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students at two main campuses in Newark and New Brunswick as well as satellite locations in Jersey City, Madison and Singapore.

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