2014 RWJF Culture of Health Prizes — Celebrating Communities’ Innovative Public Health Efforts

Jul 17, 2014, 11:37 AM

Building a Culture of Health means building a society where getting healthy and staying healthy is a fundamental and guiding social value that helps define American culture...and it’s a mission that communities across the country are eagerly taking on. They include the six communities honored by this year’s Culture of Health prizes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), who are coming together today and tomorrow at RWJF’s Princeton, N.J. campus to celebrate their efforts and share the lessons learned. Picked from more than 250 submissions, these six communities are leading some of the nation’s most innovative public health efforts. 

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize was launched to further the work of the County Healthy Rankings & Roadmaps program, which aims to educate the public and policy makers on the multiple factors that influence community health—such as education, economic conditions and the physical environment—and to provide solutions that will improve community health. The prizes honor communities that place a high priority on health and bring partners together to drive local change.

This year's RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners:

Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville’s proactive approach to making health a priority has resulted in a more vibrant, mobile and age-friendly community. The city understands how one person’s health is linked to that of another and how working together to improve the entire community—to treat the “whole body”—is the best way to create sustainable solutions.

Read the full RWJF story about Brownsville.

Buncombe County, N.C.

Between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountain ranges sits a blend of urban and rural areas that make up Buncombe County, N.C., and its eclectic county seat of Asheville. Across this picturesque landscape, a new Culture of Health is taking root. By creating a broad collaboration of community partners, Buncombe County is on a path to long-term and sustainable change.

Read the full RWJF story about Buncombe County.

Durham County, N.C.

To build a healthier community, Durham County is addressing multiple factors that impact health. For decades, the county has struggled to overcome both racial and socioeconomic inequities and the community continues to face high rates of many diseases. Despite these challenges, it has a rich history and incredible modern assets to draw upon in its transformation. Today, Durham County leaders, health care partners and residents are responding as one, and are forging a new approach known as “The Durham Way.”

Read the full RWJF story about Durham County.

Spokane County, Wash.

While opportunities exist in Spokane County for a healthy lifestyle, many pockets of the community have struggled to access them. Despite being home to many higher education institutions and a good employment base in biomedical and technical fields, 18 percent of its children lived below the federal poverty level and graduation rates were low. The county formed Priority Spokane as a collaboration of local government, businesses, nonprofit organizations and others to focus on educational attainment from the youngest children to university students — as a path to better health and stronger futures.

Read the full RWJF story about Spokane County.

Taos Pueblo, N.M.

Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage Site, is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States and still carries on many of its original traditions, including farming, use of the tribe’s Tiwa language and respect for tribal elders. The tribe has 2,500 members, many of them young, and is led by a Tribal Council that is in charge of the Taos Pueblo natural resources, the land and its animals. The community is working to build a Culture of Health through a holistic approach that emphasizes being inclusive, sharing information and seeking input.

Read the full RWJF story about Taos Pueblo.

Williamson, W.V.

Nestled in the heart of Appalachia along the Kentucky border, Williamson is committed to improving health and expanding economic development. While it leads West Virginia in categories such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, the community has repurposed its resources and ingenuity as a former coal community to support and build a community grounded in a vision for health rather than a culture of poverty.

Read the full RWJF story about Williamson.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.