Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards Four Communities the 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Prize winners selected for their impressive efforts to improve the health and well-being of residents.

    • September 18, 2018
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Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced the four communities chosen to receive the 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize. The winning communities were selected from nearly 200 applicants.

Honored for their shared commitment to health, opportunity, and equity, the 2018 Prize winners are: Cicero, Illinois; Eatonville, Florida; Klamath County, Oregon; and San Antonio, Texas.

Each winner will receive a $25,000 prize, join a growing network of Prize-winning communities, and have their accomplishments shared broadly to inspire other communities across the nation who are building a Culture of Health.

“The 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners understand good health requires far more than access to good health care. It requires a thriving community with access to quality education, good jobs, and safe, affordable housing,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “These inspiring places are engaging community members in decision-making to give all residents the opportunity to live well, no matter where they live, how much money they make, or the color of their skin.”

Each Prize community is unique with its own distinct vision for the future, but all the winners are aligned in their commitment to deliver the promise of opportunity and improved health for all residents:

Cicero, Illinois: A suburb of Chicago—Cicero, Illinois—is empowering residents of all ages to improve community health and outcomes. In a Latino-majority town where 45 percent of residents identify as immigrants, community members and organizations have rallied to keep their school-based health clinic open, prevent violence on school routes, provide safe and enriching afterschool programming, and increase access to early education. Community providers offer mental health counseling and trainings to help generate trauma awareness and combat its negative effects. Cicero’s efforts are guided by a collaborative of community stakeholders. Direct engagement with residents, parents, and young people has shaped solutions, setting the stage for a stronger community for future generations. Thanks to a strong collaborative spirit, Cicero is united in its mission to enhance quality of life for all.

Eatonville, Florida: Two miles north of Orlando, Eatonville, Florida—the oldest historically black incorporated town in America—is looking at the big picture of what creates conditions for good health. Eatonville is strengthening its workforce with training and certifications in high-need trade areas and adult education classes. The town is expanding housing by offering even more options for families transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing with wrap-around services and support. Residents actively shape Eatonville’s priorities as demonstrated by the community-led revision of the town charter. The town is also fostering leaders of all ages to pass the Culture of Health baton through initiatives like Leadership Eatonville. In 2011, when a study revealed the town’s high diabetes rates—nearly triple the national average—community partners launched into action, creating Healthy Eatonville Place to promote and support healthier lifestyles.

Klamath County, Oregon: Collaboration is in the fabric of Klamath County, the fourth largest county in the state of Oregon which spans 6,135 square miles. Partners come together to improve high school graduation rates for all students, build a strong cadre of local, skilled workers through job training, and attract new businesses. Leaders from law enforcement and mental health agencies have teamed up to provide alternatives to incarceration and build stronger police-community relations by increasing positive interactions with residents. Bilingual community health workers and a rural health care residency program are working to remove barriers to health care. Community leaders and organizations address housing challenges by incentivizing exterior home improvement through mini grants to residents in low-income neighborhoods. Local leaders also drive the development of trails and green space through geographic information system mapping.

San Antonio, Texas: Local leaders in San Antonio, Texas are working to ensure its future success leaves no one behind. Resident-driven efforts focus on factors that impact health, from approving funding for city-wide, all-day pre-K to expanding internet connectivity among public housing residents. The city’s strong data-driven collective action is demonstrated through efforts like SA2020, which publicly tracks city progress on nearly 60 indicators of community health and holds leaders accountable. The city’s Equity Office puts policies into play to reduce disparities and the city’s budget is designed to prioritize opportunities for neighborhoods and populations that have been historically marginalized. Mental health is a community-wide priority with a multi-systems approach that includes decriminalizing issues related to mental health and substance abuse and diverting individuals with mental health crises or substance abuse problems from jail to treatment.

Learn more about this year’s winners, including videos and photos, and how to apply for the 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize award at  


About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit


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 Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Building a Culture of Health means creating a society that gives every person an opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. The RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities reflect this vision in action.

Learn more about the 2018 winners

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