Spartanburg County, South Carolina Receives RWJF Culture of Health Prize for Innovative Efforts to Help Residents Lead Healthier Lives

October 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Recognizes Spartanburg County, South Carolina for

Collaborative Work to Improve Health for All

Spartanburg County, South Carolina—Spartanburg County is one of eight winners of the 2015 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Prize celebrates the strides communities have made to ensure good health flourishes for all. Announced today at RWJF headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, Spartanburg County will receive a cash prize of $25,000 in recognition of its commitment to building a Culture of Health.

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.”

About The Mary Black Foundation

The Mary Black Foundation is a private foundation established to improve the health of Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Since 2003, the Foundation’s work has centered on advancing two priority areas:  Early Childhood Development and Healthy Eating | Active Living. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter @MaryBFoundation.

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 striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. 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 is the focal point within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to address questions of what it takes to improve health across the population. The Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and promoting evidence-informed approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and manages the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit