City + Citizen News

Spartanburg wins major prize for health initiatives

Wednesday, October 28

Spartanburg one of eight communities nationwide to earn distinction


Chalk up another big win for Spartanburg. This morning, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, named Spartanburg one of eight winners of its Culture of Health Prize for 2015. 


From major economic investments to significant public infrastructure and parks projects to being named one of five Way to Wellville communities, the past several months have seen a dizzying string of announcements and progress in Spartanburg. And the RWJF Culture of Health Prize ranks right at the top of the list. Along with a cash award of $25,000, the prize is confirmation of the progress Spartanburg has made tackling very difficult issues of health, wellness and health outcomes. 


Spartanburg County is being recognized for leveraging its unique strengths and rallying community partners around a shared vision of health. Efforts have resulted in a significant reduction in teen pregnancy rates in the county, a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization that is increasing affordable housing, education opportunities, and access to wellness services and healthy foods, increased access to healthcare and social services for low-income, uninsured residents in the county, and creative strategies to integrate behavioral health services into the community.


“Across Spartanburg County, leaders and citizens have been working together for years in an effort to address our most vexing issues of health and wellness,” said Kathy Dunleavy, President and CEO of the Mary Black Foundation. “Earning the RWJF Culture of Health Prize is confirmation of the progress we have made. We still have a lot of work to do, but, because of Spartanburg’s collaborative nature and the strong partnerships that have been developed, we should all be optimistic about the opportunity we have to build a community that is among the healthiest anywhere.”


“This year’s RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are inspiring examples of communities that are weaving health into everything they do,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These eight communities, and our 12 previous winners, are connecting to like-minded people across the country to build a Culture of Health movement fueled by bold ideas, collaboration, and solutions so that everyone will have the opportunity and means to live the healthiest life they can.”


Spartanburg County was selected from more than 340 prize applications across the country. The other seven winning communities are Bridgeport, Connecticut; Bronx, New York; Everett, Massachusetts; Kansas City, Missouri; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Menominee Nation, Wisconsin, and Waaswaaganing Anishinaabeg (Lac du Flambeau Tribe),Wisconsin. Tune in to today at 12pm ET/9am PT for a live webcast of the Prize announcement ceremony.


Building a Culture of Health means creating a society that gives every person, no matter who they are, the opportunity to be as healthy as they can be. To become a RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Spartanburg County 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.


“Over the last several years, thanks to the leadership of the Mary Black Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and many other organizations, our community has made great strides in addressing several important health and wellness issues,” Spartanburg Mayor Junie White said. “This recognition is exciting, and it should encourage us to continue and accelerate our efforts.”



Tagged: Culture of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation