Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Today the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced the seven communities selected to receive the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health Prize. The city of Louisville, KY, is one of seven cities to receive the honor for efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

Collaboration, data driven decision-making, and a shared commitment to health anchor efforts in Louisville. The city aims to offer full economic opportunity for all residents through job training opportunities for youth and an effort to increase the number of residents with college degrees. The city has responded to rising violence with an all-in prevention approach and a range of initiatives, including weekly neighborhood Peace Walks with residents and police sharing ideas on how to make the city safer. Artists are being trained to help tackle challenging issues such as violence and racism and playing a pivotal role in job creation and science and technology education. Community organizations, businesses, health systems, universities, and residents are working alongside each other to put good health within everyone’s reach.

IDEAS xLab–a member of Americans for the Arts whose co-founder, Theo Edmonds, serves on the Private Sector Council–is the leader of the arts for social change component of the city's commitment to health. "In a yearlong effort, Louisville shared its own journey toward better health for all and won over the judges," said Edmonds. "Health is not just what happens in a physician’s office. Health takes place in those other areas, where we live, work, worship, learn, and play.”

Edmonds noted that the four differentiating factors that elevated Louisville to the top were: making health equity the primary focus; a commitment to violence prevention; putting data-driven decision-making at the top of the agenda; and using arts and culture, combined with entrepreneurship and social change, as a strategy to improve health.

Each winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities, and share their inspiring stories of challenges met, successes achieved, and lessons learned with other communities building a Culture of Health across the country.