RWJF Culture of Health Prize

From 2013-2021 the RWJF Culture of Health Prize program was a close collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The Prize was designed to honor and elevate U.S. communities working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all.  

During the Prize’s initial years, this recognition award for community accomplishments served as a third pillar of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, providing concrete examples of communities in action through a broad definition of health.  

Through collaboration and partnership, Prize grew to be known as a coveted award for communities, and UWPHI became known for leading a gold standard selection process that included:  

  • Assessing communities through well-honed criteria and multi-day site visits.
  • Building networks with Prize-winning community leaders — more than 600 – from across the U.S by providing in-person and virtual spaces to celebrate, learn, and build relationships. . 
  • Developing community stories and translating to external audiences, in partnership with communications and media firms.  
  • Synthesizing, researching, and reporting themes and lessons learned with an emphasis on advancing equity.  
  • Engaging hundreds of national experts to inform and participate in the Prize selection process including a National Advisory Group.  
  • Developing partnerships to position Prize leaders strategically as experts in community improvement, health, and equity. 

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Prize Criteria

During this period communities were chosen as RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners through a rigorous selection process rooted in six key criteria which were iteratively developed by UWPHI in collaboration with program partners and an advisory group of national experts. The criteria are grounded in evidence on complex collaborations across sectors to advance health and equity and were continuously shaped and honed based on what we were learning from Prize-winning communities and applicants.  

2021 Prize Criteria

To learn more about the history of the Prize criteria and our continuous quality improvement process to evolve and refine the criteria language, see Developing and Evolving Selection Criteria to Recognize Community Improvement Efforts: Learning from the RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Appreciations for Applicant Communities

UWPHI and our partners have been honored to work alongside and learn from the 1,000+ community applicants, the 100+ finalists and the 54 winning communities. We thank and acknowledge these communities’ leaders for their contributions to our shared vision of building a culture of health and advancing equity

List of RWJF Culture of Health Prize Winners and Finalists, 2013-2021

Map of RWJF Culture of Health Prize Winners 2013-2021

Please visit to learn more about the Prize winners and to find out about future selection processes. 

Increasing Our Shared Understanding of What Contributes to Health & Equity

Through the Prize, UWPHI engaged closely with communities to elevate stories focused on advancing equity. We learned from applicants, finalists, and winners at every stage of the selection process.  

Over the years, the annual Prize selection process gave UWPHI the opportunity to live out our values and principles and put community first. Community will remain center-stage for UWPHI as we continue to do our part in ensuring an equitable world. There is so much to learn from the stories, strategies, examples, and insights of those working to build better communities for all who live there. Continue the journey with us by reading through some of our program reports, blogs, and briefs. 


Blog Articles

Reports & Research

Appreciations for Program Partners and National Advisory Group

Program Partners 

UWPHI is grateful to have worked alongside and maintained strong partnerships for such a coveted program as Prize. These partnerships informed and helped shape Prize in either its selection and/or storytelling process.  

In addition to working closely with RWJF colleagues, UWPHI was pleased to partner with a number of organizations including:  

 National Advisory Group 

UWPHI is honored to have worked alongside and maintained strong relationships with the members of Prize’s National Advisory Group. The advisory group consisted of national experts who helped to inform the Prize criteria and inform and participate in the selection process. Members of the Prize National Advisory Group for 2020-2021 and their affiliation at the time were: 

  • John Auerbach, Director of Intergovernmental and Strategic Affairs, CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  
  • Bettina Byrd-Giles,Chief Executive Officer, The Byrd’s Nest, LLC
  • Frank Castelblanco, Chair, Continuing Professional Development, Mountain Area Health Education Center 
  • Romi Hall, Director, Healthy Homes and Communities, NeighborWorks America 
  • Ben Hecht, President & CEO, Living Cities 
  • Justin Kii Huenemann, CEO, Pueblo of Jemez 
  • Letetia Jackson, President/CEO, Tandeka LLC 
  • Janhavi Kirtane, Former General Manager/Staff Vice President at CareMore Health System 
  • Paul Lindberg, Collective Impact Health Specialist, United Way of the Columbia Gorge 
  • Marcus Littles, Founder and Senior Partner, Frontline Solutions 
  • Xavier Morales, Executive Director, The Praxis Project 
  • Jessica Mulcahy, Director, Success Measures Philanthropic Evaluation Strategies, NeighborWorks America 
  • Khanh Nguyen, Senior Program Officer, Colorado Health Foundation 
  • Joe Reardon, President/CEO, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce 
  • Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE