Transforming Rocky Mount partnership critical to city's selection for prestigious prize

WILSON—The nation’s largest philanthropic organization dedicated solely to health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, announced on October 26 that Rocky Mount is one of 10 U.S. communities to receive its 2020-2021 Culture of Health Prize, which “honors and elevates communities at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity, and equity for all.”

The Transforming Rocky Mount partnership, which addresses social determinants of health in the city, “received extensive attention” from the foundation’s selection team during the review process, said Susan Perry Cole, President and CEO of the Rocky Mount-based North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations. Perry Cole’s group, along with the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rocky Mount, the Southeast Rocky Mount Community Organization and our Wilson office, make up the partnership.

Transforming Rocky Mount works in low-income African American communities to support residents’ efforts to address non-medical issues – particularly housing and poverty – that contribute to the high prevalence of chronic disease and depression in these communities.

“Transforming Rocky Mount is dedicated to improving health by tackling the types of problems that may not be apparent to doctors, such as substandard housing, poverty and the racial segregation that exacerbates both,” Ayanda Meachem, head of our Wilson office, said.

“By working together to attack poor health from all angles, we can make a real difference in the lives of the citizens of Rocky Mount. We are honored that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recognized our work,” Meachem said.

Transforming Rocky Mount is funded in part by the BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.