Columbia Gorge Region Receives RWJF “Culture of Health” Prize

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Recognizes the Columbia Gorge region for ” Efforts that Give All Residents the Chance to Thrive” creating a healthier community through collaboration and a broad definition of health. The Columbia Gorge is one of seven winners of the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Prize honors communities for their efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

The Columbia Gorge region is being nationally recognized for bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health, drawing especially on the wisdom, voice, and experience of residents themselves. Chosen from nearly 200 applicant communities across the country, the Columbia Gorge’s award winning efforts include, its broad definition of health which includes social determinants of health (food security, affordable housing, etc.), its efforts to give voice to the region’s vast Latino population, and expanding the scope and role of Community Health Workers.

“It’s a willingness to be open and to listen to our end users and what our community actually needs,” says Paul Lindberg, a Collective Impact Health Specialist, a position funded by Providence Hood River Hospital through the United Way of the Columbia Gorge, “as well as a willingness to collaborate as community partners to address those needs.”

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities show us that in towns and regions across the nation, individuals are coming together to find powerful ways to help people achieve the best health possible. These communities are connecting the dots between health and education, jobs, housing, and community safety,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “We’re privileged to learn from this growing network of communities that offer hope for the well-being of the entire nation.”

The Columbia Gorge region will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities and have their inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. The other six winning communities are: 24:1 Community in the St. Louis area of Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Manchester, New Hampshire; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Santa Monica, California, and the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Washington.

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, the Columbia Gorge had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria:

  • Defining health in the broadest possible terms.
  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.
  • Cultivating a shared and deeply-held belief in the importance of equal opportunity for health.
  • Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
  • Securing and making the most of available resources.
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“The Culture of Health Prize is a great recognition that we’re heading in the right direction,” said Sarah Sullivan, Executive Director of Gorge Grown. “We look at this award as encouragement rather than accomplishment.”

The Columbia Gorge will join this year’s other Prize winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event taking place at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey on October 19-20. Learn more about Columbia Gorge’s work, as well as this year’s other Prize winners through a collection videos, photos, and more at

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