Latino Cities among Culture of Health Prize Winners!


Gonzales California Culture of Health Prize Winner RWJF 2019 2
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A majority-Latino community is among the five winners of the 2019 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize!

Gonzales, Calif. (94% Latino), was chosen from nearly 200 applicants.

Two other cities with large Latino populations—Lake County, Colo. (36% Latino) and Broward County, Fla. (30% Latino)—also won the health prize. Greenville County, S.C., and Sitka, Alaska, also received the prize.

These communities made strong efforts to build a culture of health, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. They brought neighborhood, school, and business partners together to improve health for all residents.

Winning communities get a $25,000 prize.

“The 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners recognize that health is about more than just healthcare. It’s about what happens where we live, work, learn, and play,” said Dr. Richard Besser, RWJF president and CEO, in a statement. “These communities show the nation that solutions are within our grasp when we use local data to identify challenges and work together to implement solutions brought forward by residents.”

Health Prize Winner: Gonzales, Calif.

Gonzales is home to 9,000 people in the Salinas Valley—the “salad bowl of the world.”

The city is known for its lettuce farming, big heart, can-do attitude, and innovations in agricultural-technology, environmental awareness, and sustainable practices.

Gonzales California 2019 RWJF Culture of Health PrizeGonzales’ efforts for a culture of health include several initiatives that are resulting in real progress in economic development, health care access, and youth engagement.

For example, local voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2014 to pay for after-school programs, summer camps, better parks, and summertime career training.

“The money also funds mini-grants of up to $5,000 that allow residents to suggest ideas and lead projects that will improve the town’s quality of life—small but important steps, such as upgrading a food pantry or adding new hydration stations for filling water bottles at schools,” according to RWJF.

Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco said the health prize is recognition for years of hard work.

“The City Council and staff are committed to working collaboratively to provide the resources necessary to bring excellent services that enhance the quality of life of our diverse community,” Orozco said.

Health Prize Winner: Broward County, Fla.

Broward County is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Many spent one-third of their income on housing. They can’t afford food, child care, and health care.

This creates health inequity.

Fortunately, Broward County city, business, and nonprofit leaders have teamed up to tackle these inequities. Efforts include:

  • HIV testing and treatment
  • A school-based program to provide dental sealants
  • An initiative to dismantle racism
  • Successful ballot initiatives for transportation and affordable housing

“At the neighborhood level, residents are encouraged to champion their community’s health through five county-led Healthy Community Zones,” according to RWJF. “They identify their most pressing health challenges and help shape policies and practices to address those concerns, such as creating safer streets or reducing tobacco use.”

Linda Joseph of Broward County Florida
Linda Joseph of Broward County Florida.

Salud America!, our national network to promote Latino health equity and healthy change led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, is excited to have met several heroes working in Broward County.

These include:

“Physical activity is connected with our health,” Joseph said. “Exercise is the reason we are sickly or well. Wellness isn’t just physical, it is also mental.”

Health Prize Winner: Lake County, Colo.

Lake County is pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health.

Lake County Colorado Health Prize Winner RWJF 2019
Blanca Rodriguez, interpretation coordinator for the Lake County School District, provides simultaneous interpretation for a meeting of English and Spanish speakers at Lake County Intermediate School.

The region’s efforts include:

  • Get Outdoors Leadville!
  • The Youth Master Plan
  • A dual-enrollment program at a local college to improve college readiness
  • A restorative justice in the school system
  • Supporting homegrown businesses.

“At the heart of all of this work is a belief that we have the right people in our community to build our economy, create amazing schools for our youth, and develop a more healthy and equitable community,” said Katie Baldassar, Lake County Build a Generation Director.

“Our best community investment has been to provide opportunities and support for the many amazing people doing the work.”

Your Community Can Be Next!

RWJF is currently accepting applications for the 2019 Culture of Health Prize.

Apply by Nov. 4, 2019.

Winners will be announced in fall 2020!

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