Allen County, Kansas Receives RWJF Culture of Health Prize For Efforts to Improve Health and Well-Being

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Recognizes Allen County for Transforming Rural Community Health

 IOLA, Kansas (September 19, 2017) Allen County, Kansas is one of eight winners of the 2017 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Prize honors communities for their unwavering efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.

Allen County is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen from more than 200 applicant communities across the country, Allen County’s award winning efforts include building and sustaining a robust healthcare safety net, including constructing a new critical access hospital, establishing a local federally qualified health center, dramatically reducing the county’s uninsured rate, and recruiting new providers to the community; creating a built environment that supports healthy physical activity, including developing 25 miles of trails, encouraging new development in walkable locations, and constructing a new supermarket in a USDA-designated “food desert;” and making major policy changes, including establishing a drug court and food policy council, restricting youth access to tobacco through Tobacco 21, supporting workplace wellness policies at large and small employers, and encouraging consideration of all modes of transportation through Complete Streets policies.

The nomination of Allen County was a joint initiative of Thrive Allen County and Allen County Regional Hospital.

“Allen Countians have been working for a decade toward becoming the healthiest rural county in Kansas,” said David Toland, CEO of Thrive Allen County. “We’re not there yet, and there’s a long way to go. But the progress our community has made is nothing short of incredible, and we thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for recognizing the creativity, dedication and resourcefulness of Allen Countians in creating and fostering a culture of health.”

“For the past five years, RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities have inspired hope across the country. We welcome these new eight Prize communities who are forging partnerships to improve health for their residents,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “There are now 35 prize-winning communities across the country that are thinking big, building on their strengths, and engaging residents as equal partners to tackle the problems that they see.”

Allen County 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 seven winning communities are: Algoma, Wisconsin; Chelsea, Massachusetts; Garrett County, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; San Pablo, California, Seneca Nation of Indians in western New York, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Allen 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.

RWJF President and CEO Dr. Richard Besser will join Allen Countians at a community Prize celebration, tour, and community conversation on Tuesday, September 19 beginning at 9:45AM CDT at the Thrive Allen County office, 9 South Jefferson Avenue, Iola, Kansas.

A delegation from Allen County will join this year’s other Prize winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey on October 11-12.

Learn more about Allen County’s work, as well as this year’s other Prize winners through a collection of videos, photos, and more at


About Thrive Allen County

Thrive Allen County is a quality of life coalition based in Iola, Kansas that works to improve health, wellness, recreation, education and economic conditions. Its vision is that Allen County will be the healthiest rural county in Kansas. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @thriveallen, or find us on

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit


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