County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, A Healthier Nation, County by County

Download Rankings Data

Get data for the entire nation or a state

Learn about the data & methods

Our Approach

Our model of population health

Ranking Methods

How Rankings are calculated

Using the Rankings Data

How to understand and go beyond the Rankings

Measuring Progress

Guide to understanding the health trends in your community

What can I do?

Action Center

Guides and tools for improving health

What Works for Health

Find effective policy/program strategies

What can I learn from others?

Community Grants

Local action to change policies or systems

National Partners

Learn about our partners in improving health


How communities are improving health

Projects Showcase

Examples of ways people are using the Rankings data

RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Learn about communities making a difference and how to apply

About the Prize

This section provides an overview of the Prize purpose and application/selection processes. Complete information is available via the Call for Applications (PDF)la solicitud para aplicaciones en español, and other prize web pages, including the Frequently Asked Questions


The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors and elevates U.S. communities that are making great strides in their journey toward better health.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize recognizes and celebrates communities that have placed a priority on health and are creating powerful partnerships and deep commitments to make change. America has long spent more than any other nation on building a health care system primarily focused on treating people once they are sick. The Prize honors those communities that are committed to, not only providing access to good quality care, but also to addressing the barriers to better health by transforming our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses so that good health flourishes.  

Based on a comprehensive model of health, the County Health Rankings help communities see where they are doing well and where there are opportunities to improve across many factors that influence health—including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. The Rankings are a call to action—designed to motivate community leaders to work together to build a Culture of Health. Building on the foundation of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, the RWJF Culture of Health Prize recognizes that every community is on a unique journey toward better health and that success stories are as diverse as our nation’s populations. 

In this third round of the competition, up to 10 winning communities will each receive a $25,000 cash prize and have their success stories celebrated and shared broadly to inspire locally-driven change across the nation. The invitation to apply for this prize is being extended to all U.S. communities working toward better health.

The Prize application process is designed to add value to all communities that apply, regardless of the outcome. It calls on leaders and community members to pause and take a comprehensive look at their community, to take stock and celebrate collective accomplishments – something that unfortunately does not happen often enough in our hurried world.


The RWJF Culture of Health Prize is a place-based prize that honors whole U.S. communities; submissions representing the work of a single organization or initiative are not considered.

To be eligible to apply for a prize, a “community” must be based in the United States and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Town
  • City
  • County
  • Tribe or Tribal Community
  • Region (such as contiguous towns, cities, or counties)

Communities are asked to select primary and alternate contacts for their application. These individuals indicate their organizational affiliation, which could be a:

  • Business
  • Coalition
  • Hospital or health care organization
  • Local foundation
  • Government agency or department
  • School
  • Social service agency

Each applicant community is required to designate a local U.S. governmental 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; reports to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute on prize expenditures are not required. 


The RWJF Culture of Health Prize celebrates what communities have done as well as how they have done it.

When it comes to building a Culture of Health, the challenges are many and solutions seldom straightforward. However, evidence from community successes points to several key elements playing a vital role. Six elements or “criteria” are central to the RWJF Culture of Health Prize, are serving as the lens through which all applicant communities’ submissions are judged throughout the process.

RWJF Culture of Health Prize Criteria

Building a Culture of Health means using diverse strategies to address the multiple factors that influence health. This includes raising awareness and catalyzing action in a manner that aligns with the County Health Rankings model and its four health factor areas: clinical care, health behaviors, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how they are bringing this model to life in ways that demonstrate responsiveness to community needs, assets, and priorities. Given the relative weight of the social and economic factors that influence health, judges are particularly interested in how communities are addressing these barriers to better health.

Building a Culture of Health means making thoughtful and deliberate policy, programmatic, environmental, and systems changes focused on identified community priorities with a goal of sustaining the impact of these changes over time. This includes having a strategic approach to problem-solving that recognizes both the value of evidence as well as the promise of innovation. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how leaders, organizations, and  sectors throughout the community are making decisions with the goal of improving health.

Building a Culture of Health means working to identify and address gaps in opportunity that tend to disproportionately and negatively affect certain populations, such as ethnic minorities and those with limited English skills, lesser income, and/or limited education. This includes recognizing the power of collective problem-solving approaches that not only value the voices and perspectives of all community members, but engage all, especially those most impacted, in creating and implementing solutions. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how they are putting health within everyone’s reach.

Building a Culture of Health means recognizing we are all in this together and share a common vision for providing all with the opportunity of better health. This includes developing strategies for buy-in, decision-making, and coordinated action; finding and empowering champions (including those with and without positional power; and strengthening all people’s voices and contributions through authentic civic engagement. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how business, government, individuals, and non-profit organizations are working together to improve health outcomes and how becoming healthy and staying healthy is valued by the entire community.

Building a Culture of Health means adopting an enterprising spirit toward health improvement. This includes the critical examination of existing and potential health investments, with an eye toward minimizing waste and maximizing value. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how they are creatively approaching the generation, allocation, alignment, and mobilization of diverse financial and non-financial resources to sustain their health improvement efforts.

Building a Culture of Health means beginning with the destination in mind. This includes having a commitment to quality and impact in both process and outcomes. Applicant communities are encouraged to share how they are agreeing upon definitions of success based upon shared priorities; identifying specific goals; and finding ways to track, communicate, and celebrate progress along the way and change course when progress is not evident.


The RWJF Culture of Health Prize application offers communities a valuable opportunity for collective reflection. 

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 logic model, workplan, or required budget. Because the prize recognizes whole communities, applicants must think beyond their own individual organizations and initiatives; they must consider what has been accomplished across their entire community. 

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize has three distinct phases:

Phase I Application

Phase II Application

Site Visits with Finalist Communities

All U.S. communities are invited to submit a Phase I Application, due September 17, 2014 (3 p.m. ET). Applicants will be notified of their status by October 17, 2014.

Selected applicant communities will be invited to compete for a finalist slot by submitting a Phase II Application, due December 10, 2014 (3 p.m. ET). Applicants will be notified of their status by February 13, 2015.

Finalist communities will be invited to participate in a site visit to take place April 6 – June 12, 2015. Final judging will be conducted following these visits. Winners are expected to be announced in Fall 2015. 

For Phase I, applicant communities are asked to submit a brief essay up to five pages in length to:

  1. Introduce their community
  2. Describe when their journey began and what catalyzed collective action (such as an event, opportunity, or decision)
  3. Showcase four accomplishments—specific policies, programs, or strategies—that best reflect their response to identified community needs and progress toward better health.

For Phase II, invited applicants will be asked to submit a second brief essay to provide judges with additional information about community health improvement efforts, prepare a brief four-minute multimedia presentation that brings their community to life, and draft a site visit itinerary to give judges a sense of what they might see and who they might meet should their community be selected as a finalist.

Approximately 16 Phase II applicants will advance as finalists in the competition and be invited to host a site visit.


In 2015, the RWJF Culture of Health Prize will be awarded to up to ten communities—each on its unique journey toward better health. 

Every community can participate in the process of becoming healthier. Judges will evaluate each applicant individually, considering demonstrated progress relative to the prize criteria in light of each community’s unique challenges, opportunities, and resources.

Judging will be conducted by program staff at RWJF and UWPHI along with a panel of expert national reviewers. Following site visits, the national Roadmaps to Health Advisory Group will review the merits of all finalist communities and recommend a slate of winners. Final decisions will be made by RWJF.




For more information on the RWJF Culture of Health Prize, please contact:
Carrie Carroll, Deputy Director, RWJF Culture of Health Prize