Alamosa County wins prestigious Culture of Health Prize from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

WHEN the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognizes your efforts with its Culture of Health Prize, you know the work you’re doing is meaningful and has an impact.

So it is with Alamosa County and the work behind San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO) and Rio Grande Farm Park, which were recognized Tuesday as national models for advancing health, opportunity, and equity by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which bills itself as the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.

“This is a story about all the amazing players in Alamosa County who created this culture of health,” said Liza Marron, steward of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition.

“We are so thankful to bring this prize home to our community,” she said, “and the people who have worked so hard to make Alamosa County a more welcoming, healthy, and equitable place to live, work, and play.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to be at the cumulative end of telling this story,” said SLV GO Operations Director Patrick Ortiz. “I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants because this has been three decades of work going on here.”

ALAMOSA County will receive a $25,000 prize, join a network of prize-winning communities, and have its inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Alamosa County now joins Lake County as the second Colorado community to win the distinguished prize.

The other nine winning communities are: Addison, Ill.; Chickaloon Native Village; Drew, Miss.; Howard County, Md.; National City, Calif.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Rocky Mount, N.C.; Thunder Valley Community—Oglala Lakota Nation (Oceti Sakowin Territory), and Worcester, Mass.

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Alamosa County had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six 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.
  • Maximizing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
  • Securing and making the most of available resources.
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“I am proud of this award for our partners SLV GO! and the SLV Local Foods Coalition,” said Andy Rice, parks, recreation, and library director for the City of Alamosa. “The honor exemplifies our strong collaboration, sense of community, and the quality of life improvements we have made together.”

The award is a culmination of work through the years to transform Alamosa and the San Luis Valley into a healthy eating, active living hub. Marron credits organizations from La Puente to Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley, and individuals like Jamie Dominguez and Mick Daniel with inspiring the efforts around improving the living environment of Alamosa and the Valley by facilitating a more active and healthier eating lifestyle.

SLV GO has partnered with the City of Alamosa to double the city’s trail mileage to more than 24 miles, making recreation more accessible. The Rio Grande Farm Park and its 38 acres serves a dual purpose: offering regenerative agriculture educational opportunities and providing land access and economic opportunity for local farmers. Other initiatives and programs resulting in real progress in Alamosa County include the Healthy Eating, Active Living initiative and the SLV Health Access Risk Reduction Project, a comprehensive harm reduction program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said in selecting Alamosa County.

“It’s not just agencies,” said Marron, “it’s people like Jamie Dominguez who just as a citizen has ventured out into the homeless community and made friends in homeless camps to help them. Building a relational soil in our community is really where everything else springs from.”

“So many people have been involved in this process,” said Daniel, executive director of SLV GO. “To see the collaboration continue to grow is something that I’m in awe of. When I got involved I really was just thinking about trails for Alamosa, and to see how the community has come together, and the way it branched out and the way people are working together is really extraordinary.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award speaks to the efforts across Alamosa County to create a healthy eating, active living environment while addressing persistent issues like poverty, homelessness, and drug addictions.

“It’s just great to see a focus on preserving human dignity and supporting human rights in our community,” said Ortiz, “The solutions we’ve identified can be transferred to rural communities everywhere.”


The Foundation will honor this year’s winners, Nov. 9-10, during a virtual RWJF Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event. During the event, representatives from the prize communities will talk through the different ways they are leveraging their strengths and bringing partners together to expand opportunity. The 10 new winners will also connect with their 44 fellow Prize Alumni communities.

2020-2021 RWJF Culture of Health Prize Award Ceremony 1:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. eastern time. Prize winners will be presented their certificates and offer acceptance remarks.

Please note: Event will be broadcast live at Learn more about the Prize-winning work underway in Alamosa County through a collection of videos, written profiles, and photos at

About San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition works to foster an equitable local food system that restores the health of the people, community, economy, and ecosystem. We hold equity and justice in our core values since our founding. We are prioritizing equity and seeking new ways to actualize these values in our practices.

About San Luis Valley Great Outdoors

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) helps lead numerous coalitions made up of over 100 partners working together to activate historically and environmentally significant outdoor spaces across the Valley for community health, recreational, and traditional use.

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