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Sitka waiting to hear about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation prize

Back in March, Sitka was selected as one of the 12 finalist communities in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health competition. The awards should be announced later in November. The RWJF sent a crew to Sitka in August for a site visit, plus we've had to submit a variety of items detailing how Sitka has created and improved its culture of health.

Watch this space to hear how we do.

Here is a link to the essay Sitka submitted for the first phase of the application process, Here is a link to the essay Sitka submitted for the second phase of the application process,

Here is the text of the press release about Sitka becoming one of the finalist communities:

Sitka Alaska Selected as Finalist for RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Community Improvement Efforts Recognized as Sitka Advances in Prize Selection Process

SITKA, Alaska, (March 6, 2019) – The Sitka Heath Summit Coalition is proud to announce that our community is a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. Sitka is just one step away from the national Prize, which honors communities that are bringing partners together around a shared commitment to health, opportunity, and equity.

Sitka joins 11 other finalist communities selected from nearly 200 applications from across the country. The Culture of Health Prize team will conduct site visits to each finalist community this spring. Winners will be announced in the fall.

“We are pleased to advance as a RWJF Culture of Health Prize finalist community. Having national experts recognize that we are making great strides is a testament to the important work that’s been accelerating for years,” said Doug Osborne with the Sitka Health Summit Coalition. “We believe Sitka was chosen because we have so many great stories to share: the new accessible community playground, Sitka Tribe’s ICWA Partnership, the revitalization of the SJ campus, the Wooch.een Preschool, the Fish to Schools program, clean energy, a fantastic trail system…it’s an amazing list that goes on and on.”

The Prize is guided by the principle that every community has the potential to leverage its unique strengths and assets to expand opportunities for residents to thrive. Sitka advanced to the finalist stage by demonstrating how local efforts reflect the six 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.

  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“These communities have set themselves apart by recognizing that health is about opportunity. It is connected to every element of our lives – good schools, safe and affordable housing, high-quality jobs that pay a fair wage and so much more,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “In the coming months, we look forward to visiting each community to learn more about how it is working with local leaders and residents to shape solutions in all these areas that impact health.”

If selected as a Prize winner, Sitka would be the first community in Alaska to win the prestigious national honor, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize. Winners enjoy a national platform to share community stories and lessons learned with the country, and have access to other local leaders, including past Prize winners, through the national Prize Alumni Network.

The video that Sitka submitted with its application is available here: To

learn about the work of the 39 previous Prize winners, visit

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and

the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


The Sitka Health Summit ( is a program that pioneers citizen driven and directed health improvements. The Summit hosts an annual Planning Day that provides community members with the opportunity to prioritize and democratically select two community health goals every year. Previous goals led to Sitka becoming Alaska's first Bicycle Friendly Community, becoming Alaska's first Walk Friendly Community, building the Sitka Community Playground, starting the Fish To Schools program, launching the Sitka Farmers Market, and several other projects."

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