As Healthy Places by Design’s Sarah Moore reflected in her August 15 blog, education is a social determinant of health and one of the strongest indicators of life expectancy. So it’s no wonder that communities across the country are working hard to ensure that all children have an opportunity to thrive. Their lives—and our nation’s health and wellbeing—depend on it.
2017 Prize Winner, population 3,126
Teal VanLanen, Director of Improvement & Community Engagement, Algoma School District, Live Algoma:
"It’s critical that we lead beyond the school walls to reduce the equity, achievement, and opportunity gaps that exist within our schools. The Algoma School District is committed to recognizing the untapped potential of our youth, families, educators, and communities. Together, we can apply lessons from our own experiences, shared vision, and collective ideas for action.
"We’ve learned that health, wellbeing, and prosperity are not just the absence of a chronic illness or disease. A student’s socioeconomic status, access to healthcare and food, connections to others, and safety are all contributing factors that can determine the outcome of the student’s education and longevity of life. And we know that, youth voices are critical at the decision-making table. I’m proud of how we’re getting out of the way of students’ leadership and ideas for change."
2018 Prize Winner, population 83,000
Linda Rios, All Our Kids Network Coordinator and Chair to the AOK/ECC Collaboration:
"In a community with a majority Latino population, there are cultural barriers to early childhood education. Some people lack knowledge about how children learn, the importance of certain developmental activities, or being enrolled in a high-quality early childhood program. The ISBE KIDS data reported that only eight percent of the kindergarten population in Cicero was kindergarten ready when they entered school.
"Early education, elementary education, and high school education are all interconnected—they’re each an important part of ensuring that our youth are not only graduating, but are also socially and emotionally ready to venture out into the world and continue their education or career path. Our community has a strong history of collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are working together to target education from birth through high school. We’ve learned that it’s important to make sure all voices are at the table—especially the community’s voices—when creating initiatives to improve educational outcomes. We’ll know that we’ve been successful when everyone is working together to create change."
2015 Prize Winner, population 8,700
Wendell Waukau, Superintendent of Schools, Menominee Indian School District:
"American Indians have some of the worst outcomes in education and health among all ethnic minorities, and most of the challenges and barriers to student achievement are connected to chronic health issues. Our data shows that if we don’t give up on our students when they don’t graduate on time, and instead give them an additional year or two, we can achieve a 90 percent graduation rate.
"When it comes to advancing education to improve health outcomes, we’ve learned that it’s important to build and tell our story; find and invite new leaders in our community to participate; develop champions within our organizations; and validate successes. When we do those things, the siloes come down one by one."
For more information on efforts to address trauma in Menominee Nation and across the state, view this documentary from Wisconsin Public Television: Not Enough Apologies: Trauma Stories.
2018 Prize Winner, population 1.5 million
Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, Executive Director, UP Partnership:
"In San Antonio, we’re expanding young people's opportunities by uniting diverse leaders behind a clear and powerful set of shared strategies. Our proudest accomplishment was to increase the Bexar County high school completion rate from 78 percent to 90 percent! That took the leadership of so many different stakeholders, including superintendents and their district staff, foundations and youth development agencies, and judges and community-based organizations.
"We believe that no single person, organization, or district can do this work alone. If we really want a generation of healthy and successful people, then collaboration has to be more than a notion. It has to mean real interdependence, where we share values, metrics, and resources. I think we've learned a lot about how to structure collective efforts in order to enable that level of sharing."
Click here for more information on how the UP Partnership is helping partners better understand their programs through data, expanding young people’s pathways to success, and driving policy improvements that will improve young people’s lives.
Is your community prioritizing health and committed to providing everyone, especially those with the greatest challenges, the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible? The 2020 Culture of Health Prize Call for Applications is now open! Click here for more information and to apply by November 24. And stay tuned for a public announcement of the 2019 Prize winners on November 12.
The RWJF Culture of Health Prize is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.