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I usually reserve this space for reflections on those we serve, our work and it’s many challenges. Today, I want to do something different. Today, I want to share the good news that our work and that of so many of our partners was recognized by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJ) with one of only seven Culture of Health of Prizes given nationally. RWJ is the largest foundation in the country dedicated solely to health and has a corpus, as of their 2015 audit, of over $10 billion – billion with a capital B! To be recognized in this fashion is truly remarkable and a testament to the commitment and hard work by so many people. The prize was awarded to the 24:1 Community and info about the announcement can be found here.
It’s a big deal!
The news release on the awards quoted Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey:
“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. . . .“We’re privileged to learn from this growing network of communities that offer hope for the well-being of the entire nation.”
It’s a big deal!
Here is what the release said about our efforts:
“24:1 Community, Missouri—In north St. Louis County, twenty-four municipalities came together with a collective vision: stronger communities, engaged families, and successful children. Calling themselves “24:1,” their work towards this vision is broad and innovative. Mayors meet regularly to share best practices. Police chiefs work together to reach the highest standards of policing. Schools have linked with businesses, nonprofits, childcare providers, and parents to restore the accreditation its school district lost in 2012. Across the 24:1 region, communities are focused on attaining health equity in ways that go far beyond health care. For instance, in one municipality, there is now a grocery store in a ‘food desert’, a new cinema, a ‘wealth accumulation’ center that demystifies banking and finance, and other supports for residents.”
As a general rule when we receive grants or awards I pause briefly to celebrate but usually get back to work quickly because there is much to do. I am grateful for the recognition and support. I am grateful for our incredible staff who make our mission come to life. I am grateful for those we serve in our community and their great leadership and passion for a better life for themselves and their communities. I am grateful for our outstanding partners who join us in this most important work. I do, however, choose to not dwell long on all these points for we are far from “being done” In this case, though I am forced to stop longer and say to myself and you that “It’s a big deal”.
It’s a big deal because we competed nationally for this award. It’s a big deal because of all the hard work and commitment it has taken from so many to be positioned to receive this recognition. It is an award for our entire community and we all can be so very proud! It’s a big deal because our work can now be known in many more circles and hopefully allow us to leverage more support for our work and that of our partners. It’s a big deal because RWJ is on the leading edge of this kind of work and had put their stamp of approval on our collective efforts.
I know pausing and celebrating is important – so for everyone involved in making 24:1 a Culture of Health Prize winner raise a glass and know we are on the track.
It’s a big deal.
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.