A young elementary age boy dribbles a basketball past his unrecognizable dad on the school basketball court.
Why Build a Culture of Health?
A doctor examining a patient.

Making Health Equity a Priority

We all have dreams for ourselves and our families. But we don’t all have the same opportunities to make those dreams come true. Structural racism embedded in every aspect of society is the root cause of the health disparities that persist today. For too long, our social practices, laws, and policies have placed more value on some lives than others based on race, class, and other factors. Since people created these laws and practices, we can reinvent them. If we are to create a world where health is truly for everyone and not just for the few, we have to embrace new ways of learning, working, and acting. 

RWJF is working toward a vision for the future where health is no longer a privilege, but a right. We aim to get there through our long-term focus: dismantling the structural racism that permeates society with the ambitious goal of building the future we all want for our children and grandchildren.   

A group of people are pictured in front of a graphic background.

A Future Where Health Is No Longer a Privilege, But a Right

RWJF is taking steps to focus on one of the biggest barriers to health in America: structural racism.

Ten Principles of Health Equity

RWJF believes we can achieve health equity—faster and together—if we ground our work in the following principles:

  • Every individual, family, and community is seen as deserving of health and wellbeing.

  • Health is considered a shared responsibility within our society.

  • America’s national narrative acknowledges that health and wellbeing is impacted by injustice, systemic racism, and inequities in social and economic conditions.

  • Everyone, no matter their background, has access to the resources they need to create conditions that support good health and wellbeing.

  • All families—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make—should have the resources they need to help their children grow up healthy.

  • Healthcare, public health, and social services work together to fully address the goals and needs of the people they serve.

  • Public Policy and decision-making in the private sector is guided by the goal of ensuring everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and wellbeing.

  • Communities, regardless of income or geography, have the power, agency, and resources to create and implement their own solutions to the unique health issues facing them.

  • Health data, research, and measures prioritize collecting information by race, age, ethnicity, sex, geographic region, and other relevant factors, to advance health equity for all.

  • Everyone is included in our vision.

Measuring Our Progress

By continually collecting and reviewing data, we learn whether we are making the right investments and help communities understand what drives their successes and where they need to target further efforts.

A graphic depicting a multi-cultural group of people.

A Comprehensive View of Health

Health is more than a measure of vital signs or absence of disease. Health requires access to clean drinking water and affordable healthcare. Health requires communities with well-funded schools and parks instead of polluted air and toxic waste dumps. Health also comes from access to safe and affordable homes in neighborhoods where people have opportunities to move up economically. Health reflects the ways policies shape neighborhoods and support families. RWJF supports programs that expand our understanding of what shapes our health and provide the data, knowledge, and tools communities need to enable everyone to live the healthiest life possible.

Grantee Story

Howard County, Maryland, has taken many steps to ensure diverse and equitable leadership and to boost equity—of opportunity, of access to the factors driving health, and of civic participation—among its 325,000 residents.