ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County is one of four winners of the 2021 Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The prestigious prize recognizes innovative communities for working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity. County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by community partners today at Freetown Farm to celebrate the prize and award the Community Ecology Institute with the $25,000 prize funding. Photos from the event can be found here. Video can be found here.
This honor is a testament to the hard work of our team and our community in Howard County to positively impact the health and well-being of all our residents.The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront multiple physical and mental health challenges in our society, the importance of social determinants of health, and the opportunity to live a healthier, fuller life. This award would not be possible without all of our partners. This success is our shared success, and we’re thrilled to award this prize funding to the Community Ecology Institute, who are a true gathering place for so many people in our community to foster healthy living.
The competitive Culture of Health prize recognized Howard County for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health and wellness for all. Howard County’s award-winning efforts include: using data-informed approaches to meet the needs of its population by directing resources to low-income families; providing grocery-style food banks, mixed-income housing, and equitable funding for public schools to increase opportunity for all residents; and implementing a Complete Streets policy that has improved transportation and neighborhood walkability to keep all residents safe.
To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Howard County had to apply and 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.
- Creating conditions that give everyone a fair and just opportunity to reach their best possible health.
- Maximizing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
- Securing and making the most of available resources.
- Measuring and sharing progress and results.
"We celebrate Howard County’s RWJF Culture of Health Prize award, knowing how important it is that our community works together to honor and celebrate human diversity, the natural environment, and each person’s need to feel supported by and connected to the place they call home," said Community Ecology Institute Executive Director Chiara D'Amore. "We work closely with Howard County leadership and a wide variety of community members to create innovative and intersectional partnerships around a shared commitment to help all community members live healthy, happy lives. Through our collective and collaborative actions, we are enhancing and expanding the dream of our largest city Columbia’s founder, James Rouse, that a community can be ‘a garden for the growing of people.’”
About Community Ecology Institute
The Community Ecology Institute is a Howard County based non-profit with a mission to cultivate communities where people and nature thrive together. Its work focuses on tangible, community-level change at the intersection of environment, education, equity, and health. Its initiatives have concentrated on four Cs: Connection to Nature, Civic Ecology, Community Health, and Climate Action. To learn more, visit: https://www.communityecologyinstitute.org/.