Eatonville a Finalist for Prestigious National Health Prize from Robert Woods Johnson Foundation


Nearly 200 communities applied for the coveted “Culture of Health Prize” from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF),the largest health funder in the U.S —  and Eatonville, the oldest African American incorporated town in the U.S., is one of just ten finalists! With its broad efforts to improve community health, Eatonville leaders and residents impressed the team of five RWJF representatives who completed a two-day site visit to assess and score the finalists on rigorous criteria.

The Prize recognizes communities that have made significant improvements in the health of their town. Eatonville is the smallest community by far. Other finalists include Nashville, Tennessee, Cincinatti, Ohio and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“Selected from nearly 200 applicants, these RWJF Culture of Health Prize finalists recognize what it takes to build a healthy community,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “They have set themselves apart with innovation grounded in evidence; partnerships across non-profit, education, business, and local government sectors, among others; and an unrelenting commitment to all residents having an opportunity to lead their healthiest lives.

Eatonville has been working hard on improving community health since a 2012 Healthy Central Florida study revealed that 24.2% of residents had diabetes –  a shockingly high rate.  Many organizations are working together to create a healthier community and the site visit team got to see many of them, including Hungerford Elementary School, the Boys and Girls Club, the Yard and Gardens Club, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, which has a large health ministry, and Wayne Densch Center, a supportive housing complex that offers affordable housing. They also toured HostDime, a massive data storage facility and saw plans for their new world headquarters, which are being built on five acres of the old Hungerford Prep property.

The Team also toured the Preserve Eatonville Community/ZORA museum and the cornerstone to the town’s health-centered work, Healthy Eatonville Place, operated by Florida Hospital. Healthy Eatonville Place hosts cooking classes from Hebni Nutrition, Diabetes education and more.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize  awards $25,000 to each of the winning communities and showcases their stories and lessons learned with the nation. The 2018 winners will be announced this fall. To earn Prize finalist status, communities had to demonstrate how their efforts reflect the six Prize criteria:

  • Defining health in the broadest possible terms.
  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.
  • Creating conditions that give everyone a fair and just opportunity to reach their best possible 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.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


To read the Orlando Sentinel story about the RWJF visit, click here.