Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

With New Jersey’s health system widely failing underserved groups, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is taking steps to help change the system by offering $250,000 to communities that take action to bridge the divide.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize will be awarded to 10 U.S. towns, cities, or counties, given $250,000 for their work on structural racism and equity. New Jersey hopes to have one of its locations be amongst the list of this year’s winners and have their stories told along with other past winners. Winners will gain the opportunity to network with other community winners and access the foundation’s resources to help accelerate the progress within the winning communities.

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The communities that are awarded advance health equity by addressing structural racism and other structural injustices while committing to sustainable policies promoting the system and environmental and cultural changes. Other criteria include working alongside partners across sectors and elevating the expertise and solutions held by people with firsthand experiences of health inequities. The foundation also looks for communities that engage in cultural work to advance their communities for a more just future. These are a few criteria notes listed on the RWJF website, but there are no limits to what it could be for communities to win this award.

The New Jersey healthcare system has faced significant challenges in achieving race equality. Despite being one of the wealthiest states in the U.S., New Jersey has some of the highest health disparities in the country. One of the significant issues facing the New Jersey healthcare system is the unequal distribution of healthcare resources. Many minority communities in New Jersey lack adequate healthcare facilities, healthcare providers, and access to essential services. Among other things, this has led to significant disparities in health outcomes for minority groups with higher rates of chronic diseases and lower life expectancy.

The effects of the lack of healthcare stretch beyond the doctor’s office and into the social realm, from poverty, housing, and food insecurity, all significantly impacting minority communities. These factors greatly affect health outcomes and make it difficult for minority groups to access and afford healthcare services. A lot of work is still needed to correct the racial disparities within the New Jersey healthcare system, and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize could help bridge that divide.

Applications are currently being accepted until March 29, 2023. For more information on applying and reading about past winners, visit:

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