A group of women walking down the stairs of gym.
Group of multi-ethnic women walking down the stairs of gym. Three females in sportswear leaving the gym.

RWJF Culture of Health Prize: Communities Leading the Way

We all want to live in a United States where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to reach their best health and wellbeing no matter their race, ethnicity, ZIP code, or socioeconomic status. Across the country, people are working together to make this vision a reality.  

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors the work of communities where people and organizations are collaborating to advance health, opportunity, and equity for all. 

Worcester, MA

Tawa Woods (mom) and 3 year old Tanusha Woods at the Worcester Farmers Market. Tawa is originally from Liberia and has lived in Worcester for 10 years.

2023 RWJF Culture of Health Prize Call for Applications

Learn more about applying to become a Prize-winning community whose stories show what’s possible when we work together to build a Culture of Health for all.

About the Prize

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize celebrates communities across the country where people and organizations are collaborating to build positive solutions to barriers that have created unequal opportunities for health and wellbeing. The Prize serves to inspire others to take action and create a healthier future for everyone’s children and grandchildren.

Applications are being accepted now through March 29, 2023. The Prize is awarded to either whole cities, towns, tribes, reservations, or counties.

Prize Criteria

The Prize is awarded to communities that are:

  • Addressing structural racism and other structural injustices in order to create conditions that advance health equity.
  • Committing to sustainable policy, systems, environmental and cultural changes.
  • Working alongside partners across sectors, and elevating the expertise and solutions held by people with firsthand experiences of health inequities.
  • Engaging in cultural work that envisions and advances a more just future.
  • Making the most of available community resources and fostering sustainability.
  • Measuring and sharing qualitative and quantitative indicators of progress in culturally relevant ways.

Prize winners will receive:

  • A $250,000 Prize.
  • National and local promotion of communities’ stories that will inspire other’s efforts, and training to enhance outreach to media, policymakers, and advocacy networks and grassroots organizations.
  • Opportunities to expand networks by connecting with other Prize communities as well as national and local leaders working to build a Culture of Health.
  • Access to technical assistance, coaching, and workshops in order to enable Prize winners to accelerate their progress.

Past Culture of Health Prize Winners

ALAMOSA, CO - SEPT. 15, 2021 - Mount Blanca and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range rise above the San Luis Valley as evening traffic rolls through downtown Alamosa.
Snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and lush boreal forests framing Chickaloon Native Village, Nay’dini’aa Na’ (name in Ahtna), meaning “the river with the two logs across it”, is a vibrant, innovative, and culturally rich Ahtna Athabascan Tribe located in Sutton, Southcentral Alaska for the past 10,000 years.
A view of downtown Drew, Mississippi, a community where grassroots efforts are underway to build resident leadership and ownership, civic engagement and create paths for community members to be involved.
Residents enjoy Town Center, one of Columbia’s ten villages, along the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi
A redeveloped area encourages walking, bicycling and public transit use.
A diverse group stands in front of a mural.
The station in downtown Rocky Mount serves Amtrak lines as well as CSX. The tracks separate Edgecombe and Nash counties along historically racial lines. The county line was moved from the Tar River to the railroad tracks in 1871 roughly when when the region’s tobacco, cotton, and naval stores began to ship by railroad instead of the river. Rocky Mount, NC. September 23, 2021 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

In the face of historical challenges, the people of Rocky Mount, N.C., are embarking on a journey to address structural racism and racial equity as key drivers of health. This rural town of 54,000 is working to make the city’s power structure more inclusive, encourage collaboration between generations and racial groups, and address the root causes of racism. Residents are taking an expansive view of health and fostering connections around such critical issues as affordable housing, workforce development and wealth building, and access to healthy foods.
Taylen Garnette on a ride outside the corral. The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation workforce cohort participates in Equine Therapy. The exercise encourage mental health through the physical interaction between horse and human. The participants work on trust and relaxation as they ride the horses without a saddle or reins.
The people of Thunder Valley are tapping their warrior spirits to reclaim their identities, culture, and language. They are committed to clearing a path forward for generations to come. At the core of the Culture of Health journey is how action is taken by the community—not for the community. The mission includes reclaiming language and culture, healing from trauma, providing homes and creating a safe and regenerative community, and developing work-force skills by looking at the whole person and getting them ready for the workforce physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. September 17, 2021 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
The people of Thunder Valley are tapping their warrior spirits to reclaim their identities, culture, and language and heal from historical and present-day trauma. They are committed to clearing a path forward for generations to come. At the core of the Culture of Health journey is how action is taken by the community—not for the community. The mission includes reclaiming language and culture, healing from trauma, providing homes and creating a safe and regenerative community, and developing work-force skills by looking at the whole person and getting them ready for the workforce physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. September 17, 2021 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
The people of Thunder Valley are tapping their warrior spirits to reclaim their identities, culture, and language and heal from historical and present-day trauma. They are committed to clearing a path forward for generations to come. At the core of the Culture o
A banner hanging on a solar light pole.

Addison, Illinois

The residents of Addison, Illinois, are taking a “we’re all in this together” approach to community problem solving and marshalling their resources for health. 

Alamosa County, Colorado

Alamosa County, Colo., has worked hard to overcome its remoteness and arid environment for generations by being resourceful. Community members form partnerships to address needs and make long-term changes for a better future.

Chickaloon Native Village

For Chickaloon Native Village, health depends on connections across generations, across communities, and to the land.

Drew, Mississippi

In Drew, Mississippi, residents with deep roots in the community are harnessing their collective power to build hope for future generations.

Howard County, Maryland

With a spirit of compassion, Howard County, Maryland, strives to boost equity and remove barriers to opportunity, to access to the factors driving health, and to civic participation.

National City, California

A spirit of communal unity, work, and cooperation is integral to National City, California's, efforts over the past decade to create better health and well-being for all. 

Palm Beach County, Florida

Residents are driving priorities in Palm Beach County, Florida, particularly around behavioral and mental health, racial equity and cradle-to-career advancements for children and youth.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Rocky Mount leaders of all ages have started on a journey to reverse generations of disinvestment and structural racism by expanding economic opportunity, building community wealth, and increasing access to affordable housing.

Thunder Valley Community-Oglala Lakota Nation

The Thunder Valley community, Oceti Sakowin Territory, on the Pine Ridge Reservation uses its lifeways and traditions to create pathways to healing, hope, and ultimately liberation from trauma, past and present.

Worcester, Massachusetts

New England’s second largest city relies on data and partnerships to strengthen the health of all residents.

Fort Lauderdale, FL - August 21, 2019 - The skyline of downtown Fort Lauderdale is visible against one of the city's numerous canals.
Development taking place in a downtown environment.
Three girls sitting in a park.
Lake County High School students take a semester long fly fishing class at Crystal Lake outside of Leadville, Colorado through a partnership between Lake County High School and Get Outdoors Leadville! Three days a week the students are in class learning about fly rod construction and two days a week they go out and fish at various local places with instructor Colin McFee.
Kids swimming in a harbor off a dock.

Broward County, Florida

Broward County, Florida, is “going big” in its efforts to eliminate barriers to health and economic wellbeing for its residents. Español disponible.

Greenville County, South Carolina

Greenville County, South Carolina, is engaging around public transportation, affordable housing, and education to improve the community's health and well-being. Español disponible.

Gonzales, California

The residents of Gonzales, California, share a can-do attitude and passion to make their community a healthier, more sustainable place to live and work. Español disponible.

Lake County, Colorado

The residents of Lake County, Colorado, are using data and teamwork to improve health, education and economic standards in the community’s post-mining era. Español disponible.

Sitka, Alaska

The residents of Sitka, Alaska, are working across cultures and sectors to improve well-being for everyone in their island community. Español disponible.

The Peace Mural in Cicero was completed by rival gangs.
Entrance to Historic Town of Eatonville
A picturesque view of a river running between trees.
Downtown San Antonio.

Cicero, Illinois

Once tormented by poverty, disconnected youth, and a lack of resources, residents of Cicero, Illinois, are taking action so that everyone has a chance at a healthier life.

Eatonville, Florida

The oldest historically black incorporated town in America is looking at the big picture of what creates conditions for good health. 

Klamath County, Oregon

In Klamath County, 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.

San Antonio, Texas

The residents of San Antonio, Texas, are focused on health inequities and the connections between education, health and wealth. 

Two children running with kites.
Iola, KS - August 1, 2017 - Members of THRIVE Allen County, construction staff, and and community officials discuss plans for a new grocery store in downtown Iola.
A view of Broadway, the main artery through downtown Chelsea.  (AEM Chelsea, MA story image)
A greenhouse, barn and chicken yard are part of the outdoor environmental laboratory behind Crellin Elementary School. In the laboratory children learn about the natural world, the history of Garrett County and environmental stewardship, including a water reclamation project that deals with acid mine drainage.
Richmond, VA COH 2017. Kendrell (name of both son and father) and Arshae Jackson (sister) play basketball. Chimborazo Playground is a neighborhood park where kids and adults alike congregate to workout and play. It's a friendly environment that feels wholesome and safe. The park is  expansive at 30 acres and was renovated in 2009.
A girls' soccer team walks by a mural.
A girl tending to plants in a greenhouse.
Vicksburg, MS - Aug 3, 2017 - Sunset over the Mississippi River near the South end of town.

Algoma, Wisconsin

Through the Live Algoma initiative, people and institutions are coming together to set goals and work as a team to address the city’s health and wellness issues.

Allen County, Kansas

Residents of this county in rural southeastern Kansas are banding together to foster a sense of belonging and create a shared vision of health and enhanced livelihood for all.

Chelsea, Massachusetts

With grit and determination, Chelsea, a tiny city across the Tobin Bridge from Boston, is tackling big urban challenges with innovation and heart.

Garrett County, Maryland

In Garrett County, Maryland, everyone seems to know everyone, and neighbors band together to bridge economic, cultural and health divides.

Richmond, Virginia

Stakeholders from across Richmond, Virginia, are coming together to create agency and opportunity for all residents, empowering them to make healthy choices and forge pathways out of poverty.

San Pablo, California

Having weathered tough times during the recession, the people of San Pablo, California, have drawn a direct line between economic well-being and health.

Seneca Nation of Indians (New York)

Seneca Nation of Indians in western New York infuses its cultural strength and resilience into wide-ranging efforts to improve health. 

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi, are coming together to set priorities and focus on core issues like decreasing the obesity rate and improving children's learning environment.

Jaylen Davis, 9, center, tries on his new backpack with the help of Laurence Gray, 9, right, during Beyond Housing's "Beyond the Backpack" event on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. The event, held at Normandy High School in Northern St. Louis County, Mo., provided families in the 24:1 communities with back-to-school resources, including immunizations and haircuts. (TRACIE VAN AUKEN/ For the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
Columbia Gorge 2016 Culture of Health. Mt Hood.
RWJF COH Louisville August 25-28, 2016 The Big Four Bridge is a six-span former railroad truss bridge that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was completed as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2014. Pedestrians and bicyclists on the Louisville ramp leading to the Big Four Bridge.

The Big Four Bridge is a six-span former railroad truss bridge that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was completed as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2014.

Pedestrians and bicyclists on the Louisville ramp leading to the Big Four Bridge.
Phoenix Bruce, 3, plays on the new playground during the Ninth Annual Cookout and Block Party in Harriman Park in Manchester, N.H. on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. The cookout is a chance to bring community members together, but was special this year because of the new playground installed at the park.
RWJF COH Miami. August 29-31, 2016.  Pictures of people exercising (walk, run, bike) along Miami Beach neighborhood area.
Santa Monica 2016 Culture of Health.
2016 Culture of Health Prize winner. Shoalwater Bay 2016 Culture of Health. Woodcarver Earl Davis teaches his son Aiden the traditional techniques.

24:1 Community, Missouri

Twenty-four contiguous municipalities northwest of St. Louis, M.O., embrace an “all-for-one” approach to heal their community. 

Columbia Gorge Region, Oregon and Washington

To bridge disparities, the people of the Columbia Gorge Region turned an ordinary requirement from Oregon lawmakers into an extraordinary opportunity to improve the health and wellness of all residents.

Louisville, Kentucky

Collaboration, data driven decision-making, and a shared commitment to health and health equity anchor efforts in Louisville.

Manchester, New Hampshire

In the largest city in northern New England, public officials and private sector leaders have taken a data-driven, block-by-block approach to better health.

Miami-Dade County, Florida

A vibrant, collaborative, and coordinated approach to improved health is happening across a diverse county, where 51 percent of its almost 2.7 million residents are foreign-born and at least 79 cultures are represented within its borders. 

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica has been building an inclusive, equitable, and diverse community for more than 40 years, taking a data-driven approach to become a true City of Wellbeing where everyone thrives.

Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, Washington

The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe's holistic approach to health led them to open a Wellness Center, encourage youth leaders, and come together for emergency preparedness.

Luz Garcia, owner of Garcia Carniceria and Restaurant, serves customers in Garden City, Kansas. Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, she has lived in Kansas for 25 years.  
In 1990, Luz Garcia came to Kansas for what she calls the “Mexican Dream,” the opportunity to earn a living and care for her family. Her brother was already in Finney County, working at Tysons. She met her husband here; she worked at Tyson for 7 years and he worked there for 22. The Garcias always planned to open businesses in Mexico, but when Luz’s mom passed away and a friend offered a chance to take over the carnicería (butcher shop), they decided to take the opportunity. 
The big stores like Sam’s Club don’t bring down her business she says. In fact, they come to see how her shop operates and check her prices. On pay day, her shop is always full. 
Garden City has a large Hispanic community,  making up 48% of the population according to the 2010 census. Garcia's is one of several Mexican businesses downtown.
Volunteers uprooting potatoes at Costello Urban Farm.
The Mobile Market is an extension of the hub City Farmers's Market which was purchased and refitted to expand the market's service to food deserts across Spartanburg County. In 2015, the Mobile Market is projected to make over 400 stops in Spartanburg.
Students from the New Settlement Community Center summer camp look at their growing vegetables on the rooftop garden. Bronx NY
Lac du Flambeau. September 2015.  Waaswaaganing Players Theatre Group Musicians.

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Innovative “green” strategies revitalized Bridgeport, creating a healthy, sustainable environment. The transformation boosted the economy and is leading to new schools, housing, green spaces—and opportunities for health. 

Everett, Massachusetts

The people of Everett, Mass., did not wait for a crisis to address racial justice, immigration and assimilation. They dealt with the issues head-on.

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City is creating a safe, healthy environment for all its residents by addressing what impacts health. Over the past decade, life expectancy improved for all. 

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Lawrence is making schools a community hub where parents get help for their children and financial and employment guidance for themselves. 

Menominee Nation, Wisconsin

Menominee Nation is improving health by reclaiming traditional culture and using trauma-specific interventions to foster healing from historical losses. 

Spartanburg County, South Carolina

Data driven decision making, partnerships, and collective impact—that is the Spartanburg way. They are connecting low-income residents to medical homes and support for the social determinants of health.

The Bronx, New York

Residents and organizations of the Bronx have united to revitalize everything from jobs and schools to housing and the environment. 

Waaswaaganing Anishinaabeg (Lac du Flambeau) Tribe, Wisconsin

This community is drawing on cultural traditions to strengthen well-being. A youth program uses practices steeped in the Ojibwe language to improve school attendance and redirect at-risk youth.

Buncombe County, North Carolina is living proof that improved collaboration among individuals, stakeholders and community leaders can significantly improve health for local residents. 

Led by the local nonprofit Children First/Communities in Schools, community leaders are attacking the issue of poverty at both the individual level and the policy level. Community leaders are working hard to ensure that children have access to and knowledge about nutritious local food.
Photos of Community Health Representatives â   Home Visits  at Taos Pueblo, NM for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize, Thursday, May 22, 2014. (AP photo/Craig Fritz)

Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville is highly successful in promoting active lifestyles and demonstrates the strength of community partnerships in action.

Buncombe County, North Carolina

By creating a broad collaboration of community partners, Buncombe County is on a path to long-term and sustainable change.  

Durham, North Carolina

To build a healthier community, Durham County is harnessing locally driven revitalization efforts to address the many factors that impact health.

Spokane County, Washington

Recognizing the powerful impact education has on long-term health, Spokane is improving health by expanding educational opportunities that empower young people.

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

The Taos Pueblo community of northern New Mexico is drawing on its cultural traditions to address modern challenges and envision a healthier future for its people.

Williamson, West Virginia

In the heart of central Appalachia coal country, Williamson is committed to improving health and expanding economic development.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA - JAN. 25:  Mural near Central Square, Cambridge, MA. (Photos by Tsar Fedorsky/Getty Images for Home Front Communications)
A nurse performs a blood pressure screening.
The market creates access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at affordable prices for the residents of our community, and allows low-income participants to use coupons. Manistique is one of six winners of the inaugural RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge—best known for its world-renowned universities—is improving health equity by addressing public health challenges like obesity and school readiness.

Fall River, Massachusetts

Realizing that its public health efforts must focus on long-term changes, Fall River has worked hard to reach out to youth and even foster youth-driven health improvement.

New Orleans, Louisiana

In New Orleans, a renewed focus on schools promoting academic achievement and good health offers new gardens and cooking classrooms, as well as state-of-the-art kitchens and new physical activity programs in schools.

Manistique, Michigan

Manistique is slowly but surely making environmental changes and systems changes that give people access to healthier foods and physical activity without having to really change their daily routines very much.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The key in Minneapolis is infrastructure—the community is intentionally designed with bikeways and paths to encourage active transportation, including biking and walking.

Santa Cruz County, California

In Santa Cruz County diverse partners are facing public health challenges as one, coming together across sectors and across the community to engage everyone in the mission to improve the health of all residents.

Apply for the Prize or Other Funding Opportunities

Are you interested in helping to build a Culture of Health for everyone in America? 

Please take a look at the funding opportunities for community action, innovative policy change and research initiatives. 

Prize Stories