County by County Blog

Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

How Communities Are Creating a Culture of Health and Advancing Equity

Publication date
September 16, 2019

Since 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize has honored and elevated U.S. communities working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all. Representing diverse places—from Allen County, Kansas to Menominee Nation in Wisconsin to Chelsea, Massachusetts to Columbia Gorge Region in Oregon and Washington—these Prize winners are tackling social and economic challenges that impact how long and how well we live.

But what strategies are these communities using? And how are their leaders, partners, and residents working together to improve health and advance equity? What can we learn from RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners on their journeys toward creating a Culture of Health to guide and inspire others?

Our new report, Actions Toward Equity: Strategies Communities Are Using to Ensure Everyone Has a Fair and Just Opportunity for Health, answers these questions and shares lessons learned from the 2013-2017 Prize winning communities. The report can be a helpful resource for communities striving to give everyone a fair and just opportunity for health, with key insights including:

  • Comprehensive approaches to address social and economic disparities rather than isolated strategies lead to promising results. From 35 Prize winners’ application materials, 1,377 discrete community strategies were identified, 45% of which target social and economic drivers of health and equity.
  • Empowering residents—especially those who have been historically excluded—is an important step for addressing inequities. In 77% of Prize-winning communities, there are explicit inclusionary efforts to ensure residents from historically excluded groups and those most affected by poor health outcomes feel recognized, welcomed, and equipped to participate in shaping priorities, decisions, and solutions.
  • Regular processes that are consistently supported and practiced across efforts are essential to authentic community engagement. Prize-winners offer compelling examples of fully engaging residents in community improvement in ways that go beyond gathering input and feedback on existing programs and initiatives.

Read the full report here and its executive summary here.

Is your community advancing equity and building a Culture of Health that gives everyone a fair and just opportunity for health? Start your application for the 2020 Culture of Health Prize today, visit to get started.

Questions about the application process? Review details of our informational webinar held on September 24.

Related Blog Posts