The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize (the Prize) elevates the compelling stories of places where residents are working together to transform education, jobs, transportation, housing, and more so better health flourishes for all. A Culture of Health recognizes that where we live—such as our access to affordable homes, quality schools, good jobs, and reliable transportation—affects how long and how well we live.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize recognizes communities working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all.
There are characteristics shared by communities that catalyze and sustain positive change. Because the Prize recognizes whole communities, applicants must think beyond their own individual organizations and initiatives to what has been accomplished across the community. Reviewers use the following criteria as the lens to evaluate all applications.
- Defining Health in the Broadest Possible Terms
- Committing to Sustainable Systems Changes and Policy-Oriented, Long-Term Solutions
- Creating Conditions that Give Everyone a Fair and Just Opportunity to Reach Their Best Possible Health
- Maximizing the Collective Power of Leaders, Partners, and Community Members
- Securing and Making the Most of Available Resources
- Measuring and Sharing Progress and Results
Defining Health in the Broadest Possible Terms
Building a Culture of Health means using comprehensive strategies to address the many things that contribute to health, opportunity, and equity in our communities. This criterion includes ways communities are acting across multiple areas that influence health, such as but not limited to the factors in the County Health Rankings model: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Communities are also encouraged to show how they respond to their local challenges and build on the strengths of their community.
Given the importance of social and economic factors in influencing health outcomes—strategies addressing education, employment, income, family and social support, community safety, and housing—are considered crucial elements to achieving a Culture of Health.
Committing to Sustainable Systems Changes and Policy-Oriented, Long-Term Solutions
Building a Culture of Health involves making thoughtful, data-informed decisions that include a strategic mix of policy, programmatic, and systems changes designed to last. This criterion involves communities taking a strategic approach to problem-solving that recognizes the value of evidence and the promise of innovation. Communities are encouraged to demonstrate how residents, leaders, and organizations are collectively identifying priorities, addressing causes of problems, and taking coordinated action to implement solutions that have staying power.
Creating Conditions that Give Everyone a Fair and Just Opportunity to Reach Their Best Possible Health
Building a Culture of Health entails working intentionally to identify, reduce, and ultimately eliminate barriers that limit opportunity, in collaboration with those who are most directly impacted by local challenges. This criterion includes ways that communities value diverse perspectives and foster a sense of security, belonging, and trust among all residents. Communities are encouraged to demonstrate:
- specific actions to remove obstacles to better health and increase the ability of residents who have been historically excluded from opportunities to fully participate in problem solving; and
- examples of shared power and leadership with residents traditionally absent from decision-making processes.
Maximizing the Collective Power of Leaders, Partners, and Community Members
In building a Culture of Health, individuals and organizations across sectors and disciplines work together to provide everyone with the opportunity for better health. This criterion includes efforts to build diverse and robust partnerships across business, government, residents, and nonprofit organizations, and fostering inclusive civic engagement and leadership capacity among all community members. Communities are encouraged to demonstrate how they are:
- inspiring people to take action to support change for better health;
- developing methods for buy-in, decision-making, and coordinated action;
- building a shared sense of accountability; and
- continuously communicating about community improvement efforts.
Securing and Making the Most of Available Resources
Building a Culture of Health requires adopting an enterprising spirit toward community improvement. This criterion includes efforts to critically examine existing and potential resources to maximize value, with a focus on leveraging existing assets; making equitable decisions about how to invest resources; and cultivating a strong belief that everyone in the community can be a force to improve the community so that all people can live their healthiest lives possible.
Communities are encouraged to demonstrate how they are creatively approaching the generation, allocation, and alignment of diverse financial and non-financial resources to improve the community’s health and well-being.
Measuring and Sharing Progress and Results
Building a Culture of Health begins with the destination in mind and a commitment to measuring the quality and impact of coordinated efforts. This criterion includes collective efforts to:
- establish shared goals across sectors and partners;
- agree on definitions of success, with attention to reducing disparities;
- identify measurable indicators of progress; and
- continuously use data to improve processes, track outcomes, and change course when necessary.
Communities are encouraged to demonstrate how they are developing systems for collecting and sharing information—determining impact across efforts—and communicating and celebrating successes when goals are achieved.
Six Steps to the Prize
ABOUT THE PRIZE
At RWJF, building a Culture of Health has become the central aim of what we do, with a goal of giving every person across the nation an opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Communities are already leading the way to drive local change and providing all residents opportunities to live their healthiest life possible. The RWJF Culture of Health Prize, a collaboration between RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, is the Foundation's way of honoring communities—urban, rural, tribal, large, or small—that are beacons of hope and progress for healthier people, families, and places.
What is the Culture of Health Prize?
Learn How We Work Toward
The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors U.S. communities. Submissions representing the work of a single organization will not be considered. With the exception of previous Prize winners and 2020 finalists, all past applicants are eligible to re-apply for 2021.
- Meet the definition of a community.
- Provide primary and alternate contact people for your application, preferably from two different organizations.
- Designate a local U.S. governmental entity or tax-exempt public charity operating in its community to accept the $25,000 Prize on the community’s behalf, should they win.
Meet the definition of a community.
A “community” must be a geographically defined jurisdiction within the United States* that falls into one of the following categories:**
County, parish, borough, city, town, village, or other municipality with a publicly elected governing body
Federally recognized tribe or a state-designated Indian reservation
Native Hawaiian organization serving and representing the interests of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii
Region defined as geographically contiguous municipalities, counties, and/or reservations
* Communities within U.S. territories are welcome to apply. Communities in places that may have unique governance structures (such as U.S. territories, Alaska, and Hawaii) should contact the Prize program with eligibility questions well in advance of the application deadline.
** Neighborhoods and states are not eligible to apply.
Provide primary and alternate contact people for your application, preferably from two different organizations.
Each individual will indicate one of the following organization types with which they are affiliated, such as:
- Community coalition, grassroots, advocacy, or resident group
- Hospital or health care organization
- Local foundation
- Government agency or department
- Non-profit, community-based organization
- Community development organization
Designate a local U.S. governmental entity or tax-exempt public charity operating in its community to accept the $25,000 Prize on the community’s behalf, should they win.
Community partners can decide together how to use the funds to benefit the community; budget reports on Prize expenditures are not required
Through the RWJF Culture of Health Prize application process, a community comes together to tell their inspiring stories of collaboration, action, and results. Communities should understand they are applying for a prize and not a grant. The Prize recognizes work that has already been accomplished so there is no required workplan or budget. To be competitive, it is imperative that Prize applicants showcase the breadth of work and collaboration happening across the entire community.
Phase I Application
- Introduce their community by describing:
- Key community demographics, characteristics, strengths, and challenges, including who in the community is most affected by poor health outcomes and what root causes are driving community health conditions;
- How the community’s health improvement journey began and what catalyzed collective action (such as an event, opportunity, or decision).
2. Showcase four accomplishments—specific policies, programs, or strategies—that best reflect their response to identified community needs and progress toward better health for all, and describe how accomplishments relate to the first three Prize criteria. Additional guidance is available through the online application system.
Phase II Application
A select group of Phase I applicant communities will be invited to compete for a finalist slot by submitting a Phase II Application. Detailed guidance will be provided to communities invited to advance in the selection process.
Phase III Site Visit
Up to 16 Phase II applicants will advance as finalists in the competition and be invited to host a site visit. Detailed guidance will be provided to communities invited to advance in the competition.
Here are the major milestones from initial application through winners' celebration event:
October 15, 2020 (3 p.m. ET)
Phase I Applications (for all applicant communities) are due.
November 13, 2020
Invitations extended to select applicant communities to submit Phase II Applications.
December 21, 2020 (3 p.m. ET)
Phase II Applications (for invited communities) are due.
Phase III: Site Visit Phase
February 16, 2021
Invitations extended to finalist communities to participate in the Site Visit Phase.
Site visits with finalist communities.
National announcement of winners and celebration event.
What Prize Winners Receive
In this ninth round of the annual Prize competition, up to 10 winning communities will receive:
- A $25,000 prize.
- Communications funds to help share their story. Communities will have the opportunity to determine the communications tools that will best support their work.
- Strategic guidance and training from communications professionals. Communities will receive support and resources to aid in the national and local promotion of their stories and training to improve media skills.
- National and local promotion. Stories will be shared to inspire others’ efforts, such as outreach to media, policymakers, and networks of organizations.
- Opportunities to expand networks. Winners will have opportunities to connect with other national and local leaders working to build a Culture of Health such as past Prize-winning communities.