The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the leading health philanthropic organization in the nation, endorses a culture of health. Earlier this summer, two representatives from the GLP attended the Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight: Health, hosted by RWJF. At the opening of the festival, we heard Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the President of RWJF, explain that “Building a culture of health is our North Star.” Consistent with the message of the GLP’s Special Report on Health, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey reminded us that a child’s zip code at birth is as important as his or her genetic code in predicting how long and how well he or she will live.
Throughout the conference, renowned experts emphasized the importance of social determinants of health, including race, education, and poverty. When we compare health outcomes between income groups, the differences are staggering – there are huge gaps in health between African-Americans and White Americans, even after controlling for age, income, education, and insurance status.
Many scholars asserted that investment in education would pay huge dividends in health gains in the future. As the GLP advances our work with Health, we will further explore how health and education—one of our Deep Drivers—are correlated. Work out of Virginia Commonwealth University is further highlighting the link between education and health. Essentially, as education increases, job opportunities increase, as does earnings potential. Higher income affords us healthier foods, access to safer and more walkable neighborhoods, more access to health care providers, etc.
Currently, many groups are working to improve the health of Louisville’s residents. This year, two reports were released: the Health Equity Report from the Center for Health Equity and Healthy Louisville 2020: Creating a Healthier City from Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness. In addition, Kentuckiana Health Collaborative is working on how to improve access and overall health among residents of Louisville.
Health is a factor in all three of the GLP’s Deep Drivers, Education, 21st Century Jobs, and Quality of Place. As we advance our work with health, we will further explore the relationship between our Deep Drivers and health.