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

Being healthy means more than not being sick. Complex social factors and deeply ingrained systemic barriers are such powerful influences that people in some communities will die 20 years earlier than others living just a few miles away. The risks begin at birth and continue across the lifespan because stable housing, good schools, steady jobs, and accessible healthcare are inequitably distributed.

Building a Culture of Health means working together to dismantle structural racism and other barriers so that everyone has the chance to live the healthiest life possible.

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

Health Should Be a Right, Not a Privilege

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

Ten Principles of a Culture of Health

RWJF believes a national Culture of Health grounded in health equity must reflect the following underlying 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 industry 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.

  • No one is excluded.

Measuring Our Progress

Building a Culture of Health rooted in equity requires establishing and tracking metrics and cultural indicators. Doing so helps pinpoint areas of success and opportunities for improvement.

A graphic depicting a multi-cultural group of people.

Understanding the Social Determinants of Health

While medical care is critically important to health, the conditions in which children, families, single adults, and aging populations live, and the resources and services available to them, also play a decisive role. RWJF’s work promotes a collective understanding of the social determinants of health and how they influence our path to health equity.

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.