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Klamath Falls
July 12, 2024

Culture of Health Prize Money Distributed Across Klamath Community

In September of 2018, Klamath County was one of four winners nationwide to be awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize. In addition to being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together around a shared vision of health, the community received a $25,000 prize. Healthy Klamath partners chose to invest that prize money back into the community to continue our health improvement journey.

Agencies applying for the grant money were required to align with one of six RWJF Culture of Health 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; and
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“I’m so proud of this community and the success it’s seen in the past few years. I’m thrilled that Klamath County was recognized as a community working towards a better future despite our low health rankings. This prize money will help continue these efforts and I foresee great things ahead of us,” said Jennifer Little, Public Health Director.

Six agencies were selected as winners: Youth Rising, Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Center, Klamath Union High School’s Culinary Program, Klamath Falls Farmer’s Market, Just Talk Suicide Prevention and Citizens for Safe Schools. The funds will help these organizations to further their missions by supporting SNAP dollars at the Farmer’s Market, building garden towers for high school culinary education, supporting youth mentoring and drop-in centers, funding an event to support suicide prevention, and creating an outdoor parklet for socializing and physical activity for our older adult populations.

“It’s exciting to see this money go toward a wide variety of programs and populations in our community.
We are all in this together, and these funds will help us continue our partnerships and mutual beliefs
that we can improve Klamath County’s health outcomes,” says Healthy Klamath Co-Chair, Merritt
Driscoll. Merritt is the Executive Director for Blue Zones Project and has been part of the Healthy
Klamath Coalition since 2013.

Cord VanRiper, Health Equity Manager for Cascade Health Alliance also Co-Chairs Healthy Klamath and stated, “It is inspiring to see Klamath’s Culture of Health prize applied toward furthering investments and programs directly tied to the social determinants of health. I’m excited to see the lasting impact each of these projects will have on the community.”

Those interested in getting involved in the Healthy Klamath Coalition or learning more about the ongoing health and wellness initiatives in our community are encouraged to reach out via email to info@healthyklamath.org.

About Healthy Klamath

The Healthy Klamath Coalition is a multi-sector partnership established to guide community health improvement efforts in Klamath County, Oregon. The community mobilized in 2012, forming the coalition in response to consistently low rankings in the annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) County Health Rankings. Over the past seven years, dedicated community members, leaders, and organizations have launched numerous initiatives, programs, and policy changes to address the health factors contributing to poor health outcomes in Klamath County. Passionate community leaders and community members are working together to find innovative solutions to address the health issues where we live, learn, work, and play. This momentum is helping build a culture of health in Klamath County.

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