In February we announced that Bastrop County was named a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. This prize honors and elevates U.S. communities working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all. Winners were awarded $25,000, along with help to spread awareness of their efforts to increase the culture of health in their community.
More than 100 communities applied and nine were selected as finalists, including Bastrop County. Not only was Bastrop County the only community selected from Texas but we were the only rural county chosen to be a finalist. This is a big deal. Bastrop County was selected as a finalist because of our efforts to create a culture of health, work together as a community, realize equity for all, and see sustainable community impact.
“I am proud that Bastrop County was represented among the list of finalists,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. “We are a strong and resilient community, and simply being considered for this award shows that our ongoing efforts to make Bastrop County an inclusive and equitable community are the recognition we need to further this impact.”
What makes Bastrop County so special?
Our accomplishments reflect an intentional and comprehensive approach toward improving health and reducing disparities in our community by being volunteer-led from their inception and data-driven in achieving outcomes. All Bastrop County Cares initiatives were envisioned by volunteers in our community, and their action steps were informed by local data that laid out a roadmap for long-term systems change.
Building our Culture of Health starts with collaborations rooted in volunteer leadership with a focus on equity and inclusion and informed by local data. Each active collaboration and coalition focuses on county-wide impact. Bastrop County Cares has identified over 30 “micro-communities” in Bastrop County that have been historically excluded from the countywide power structure due to cultural or geographic isolation.
Success for our collaborations will manifest itself in a shared vision where community members actively support the health, resilience and well-being of one another. This is the essence of building a Culture of Health. Our collaborations define priorities, success, and specific goals through the lens of creating long-term systems to change inequities in historically excluded communities as identified by their residents.
Since Bastrop County was announced as a finalist earlier this year, we have advanced our initiatives and the impact our coalitions and collaboratives have made. In the final selection round, Bastrop County was not chosen to receive the Culture of Health Prize.
“We don’t stop here,” said Debbie Bressette, Executive Director of Bastrop County Cares. “As a non-profit, Bastrop County Cares is in its infancy. To be considered for this prize, along with major metropolitan areas whose initiatives have been in place for extended periods of time speaks to the incredible heart and passion that our residents are putting into making a more equitable Bastrop County.”
While we are not bringing back the $25,000 prize, we are pointing with pride to our four stellar accomplishments: the affordable housing coalition, the resilience design team and its healing history community conversation series, the early childhood coalition roadmap and community playground builds, and the Bastrop Connects volunteer engagement platform. Demonstrating without a doubt that together we are better, together we can make a difference, and together we can achieve lasting change in Bastrop County.