Kansas City’s steps toward becoming a healthier community earned it a major prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Kansas City, Missouri, is receiving one of eight $25,000 RWJF Culture of Health Prizes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The prize celebrates the strides communities have made to ensure good health flourishes for all, and Kansas City is being recognized for leveraging its unique strengths and rallying community partners around a shared vision of health.
Efforts include the Health Department’s AIM4Peace initiative, using health workers who hit the streets to interrupt violence and Creating Opportunity, which works with community members and helps organize them to push for changes like predatory lending reform and minimum wage increase. Kansas City Public Schools and more than 50 community partners have also distributed 32,000 books to children and recruited more than 450 volunteers to improve literacy rates; educators witnessed a two percent increase in third grade reading levels in one year.
“We’re building Kansas City to be a City that cares for everyone in it, and we only do that by working together,” says Mayor Sly James. “The genuine commitment to all citizens in our Health Department and many partners is the foundation of the greater community we want for future generations.”
To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Kansas City had to demonstrate how it excelled in 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; and measuring and sharing progress and results.
“The prize is great recognition for the work we’ve done as a community, the shared focus on improving our collective health by government, business, our health-related organizations, and charitable institutions,” says Jim Heeter, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “The work continues as we search for more solutions to shape a ‘Healthy KC.’”