Posted June 25, 2014 by & filed under Blog, Press Releases.

SOURCE: City of Brownsville

Brownsville, Texas (June 25, 2014) – Brownsville is one of six winners of the prestigious RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The prize honors communities that are harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and stakeholders to help residents live healthier lives. Announced today at the Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight: Health, Brownsville will receive a cash prize of $25,000 in recognition of its commitment to building a Culture of Health.

“The success of our endeavors in creating a healthier city, physically and economically, largely depends on the continued engagement and support of city and community leaders, as well as the community itself,” said City Commissioner Rose M.Z. Gowen, MD. “We must capitalize on the momentum built by this collaborative partnership to ensure health and prosperity for all our citizens.”

Brownsville is being recognized for its innovative strategies to improve health through the collaboration of The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the City of Brownsville’s Public Health Department, city leaders like Commissioner Gowen, and the involvement of the community. Other key partners include the Community Advisory Board and United Brownsville.

“For the last 10 years, the UT School of Public Health has partnered with the Community Advisory Board, comprised of over 200 organizations and individuals from around the Rio Grande Valley, to improve health through research, implementation of evidence-based programs, mass media strategies, and policy and environmental change initiatives. The united, collaborative and evidence-based approach has created lasting change,” said Belinda Reininger, DrPH, associate professor of health promotion and behavioral science at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus.

Initiatives like Tu Salud ¡Sí Cuenta!, a community-wide campaign to address chronic disease prevention that includes mass media and free exercise and nutrition classes, and the help of bilingual community health workers are essential to help uninsured and chronically ill residents live healthier lifestyles.

The City has also implemented a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, a Complete Streets Resolution and a Master Hike and Bike Plan. Activities like CycloBia, where thousands of residents walk, run, cycle and enjoy outdoor activities in traffic-free streets, and The Challenge, a city-wide, friendly weight-loss contest, have been highly successful to promote active lifestyles and have demonstrated the strength of community partnerships in action.

“Over the past several years, we’ve taken concrete steps toward improving our community and the lives of our citizens. It would not have been possible without the commitment of all parties involved, “said Art Rodriguez, City of Brownsville’s Public Health Department Director. “This recognition from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation energizes us to sustain our efforts toward becoming a healthier and more vibrant city.”

Brownsville was selected from more than 250 prize applications across the country. The other winning communities are Buncombe County, North Carolina; Durham County, North Carolina; Spokane County, Washington; Taos Pueblo, New Mexico and Williamson, West Virginia. Learn more about the RWJF Culture of Health Prize and watch a video profile of Brownsville at

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a national Culture of Health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These communities are inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together so that every resident has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”

Guided by the principle that every community—regardless of health status and resources—has the potential to improve and become healthier, the RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors communities that are setting the standard. TheRWJF Culture of Health prize winners excelled in six criteria:

  • Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners and community members.
  • Working strategically across the multiple factors that influence health.
  • Addressing issues that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations.
  • Developing sustainable, long-term solutions to shared community priorities.
  • Leveraging and maximizing resources.
  • Measuring and sharing results.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize was launched to further the work of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps help communities understand the many factors that influence health and identify strategies community leaders can take to improve health. Find out more at