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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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.
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
Please visit www.rwjf.org/prize 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.
- Olivia Little, Carrie Carroll, Angela Acker, Erin Schulten. Community First- Three Ways that RWJF Culture of Health-Prize Winning Communities Foster Inclusion and Belonging. Winter 2022.
- Angela Acker, Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Erin Schulten. Inclusive & Equitable COVID-19 Responses. Fall 2021.
- Olivia Little. Actions Toward Equity_Examples from Prize Winners. Summer 2019
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Devarati Syam, Julie Willems Van Dijk. Actions Toward Equity Executive Summary. Summer 2019
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Devarati Syam, Julie Willems Van Dijk. Strategies to Build a Culture of Health. August 2018.
- Olivia Little. “Our Shared Humanity Is the Foundation for Cohesive, Resilient, and Equitable Communities.” November 2021. Healthy Places by Design. https://healthyplacesbydesign.org/our-shared-humanity-is-the-foundation-for-cohesive-resilient-and-equitable-communities/
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little. “Actionable Strategies for Communities to Build Health: The RWJF Prize Reports.” March 2021. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/news-events/actionable-strategies-for-communities-to-build-health-the-rwjf-prize-reports
- Carrie Carroll. “What It Looks Like to Build a Culture of Health During COVID-19.” October 2020. Build Healthy Places Network. https://buildhealthyplaces.org/sharing-knowledge/blogs/expert-insights/culture-of-health-during-covid-19/
- Julie Willems Van Dijk, Carrie Carroll. “Harnessing the Untapped Potential of Disconnected Youth” July 2017. Raising Places.
Reports & Research
- Angela Acker, Carrie Carroll, Sheri Johnson, Olivia Little, Erin Schulten. 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize-Winning Communities. Fall 2020.
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Devarati Syam.2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize-Winning Communities. Winter 2019.
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Devarati Syam, Julie Willems Van Dijk. Actions Toward Equity Full Report. Summer 2019.
- Carrie Carroll, Olivia Little, Devarati Syam, Julie Willems Van Dijk. 2017 RWJF Culture of Health Prize-Winning Communities. Fall 2019.
- Julie Willems Van Dijk, Bridgit Catlin, Abbey Cofsky, Carrie Carroll. Challenges and Lessons Learned from Communities Using Evidence to Adopt Strategies to Improve Healthy Food Environments. Health Aff (Millwood), 2015, 34(11):1979-85. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0643
Appreciations for Program Partners and National Advisory Group
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