Data + Collaboration = Action•
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Prize embodies what all of us at Opportunity Nation work toward every day – inspiring communities to think about creating opportunity – economic, educational and civic — by collaborating across silos and sectors. This year, RWJF honored six communities for their innovative, collaborative strategies to improve the health of their residents. Spokane, Washington is a great representation of this model. To spread a culture of health throughout the community, Spokane’s leaders formed a collaborative and identified education as a crucial lever.
What was the tipping point to get all of these creative leaders united around the common goal of education? Data, of course! The Spokane health department released a report showing the ripple effects educational attainment had on poverty, health and household incomes. According to the Opportunity Index, Spokane County earned a C+. The county is in line with the national average for on-time high school graduation and ranks above average on post-secondary degree attainment, but falls behind on the percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, which is a critical first step for educational attainment.
A great LinkedIn Influencers post by RWJF’s President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the many implementations led by Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI)’s Priority Spokane that earned them this impressive award, including investments in STEM, business-driven local school curricula and early warning and prevention systems for at-risk students. By working together, Spokane’s high school graduation rate climbed from 60 percent in 2006 to nearly 80 percent today – a huge leap forward in building healthier communities and families.
The RWJF County Health Rankings are an incredible resource for community collaborators to start a conversation and think about ways to improve their community’s health – in fact, they’re even included in the Opportunity Index’s methods and sources! We congratulate Spokane and the rest of the winners on the example they are setting for the rest of the country as we all work together to increase opportunity in our communities.