Rural Health and Well-Being in America

Understanding our rural communities’ strengths, challenges and opportunities for achieving health and well-being for all.

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Across America, many rural and tribal communities are finding inspiring solutions to improve health and well-being for all.


In rural and tribal communities, people are resilient and work hard to overcome obstacles to health with the resources they have. But it shouldn't have to be so difficult.

According to the County Health Rankings, rural counties have higher premature death rates and rank lowest nationally in overall health outcomes. The factors driving rural health disparities vary widely, from shifting demographics, to changing economies and disinvestment, to the opioid epidemic and insufficient access to needed care.

Amid these complex issues, with a range of partners, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting the efforts of rural communities across the nation to develop local and regional solutions to advance health equity. These efforts draw on community strengths: neighbors who look out for each other; teachers who know their students; and leaders of all ages and walks of life who are determined to build a stronger and more resilient future for all.

This collection shares key resources, research and emerging insights into the many factors that shape rural opportunity, health, and equity in America.

Stories of Rural America

Geography No Longer Destiny

As the nation prepares to mount a slate of policy demands to address the pandemic, racial justice, and economic recovery, it is crucial that rural—and geographic—equity is a key part of the vision.

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FeatureD InitIatives and Research

Thrive Rural

Thrive Rural is focused on what works and what’s needed to improve racial, economic, and geographic inequity in rural America.

Cultivating Wellness in Community

 The Cooperative Extension System and National 4-H Council are building diverse, multigenerational, cross-sector coalitions to tackle health inequities through Well Connected Communities.                                         

Supporting Rural Hospitals

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health is partnering with communities and facilities to identify opportunities to improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and increase access to care.

Partners for Rural Transformation

Partners for Rural Transformation is a national coalition dedicated to advancing economic mobility in persistent poverty areas.

Collective Leadership

The Rural Assembly is launching a national response to address long-standing issues of inequity and historical trauma in rural communities.

Life in Rural America Poll and Stories

RWJF, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and NPR conduct survey research and share critical data on views and experiences in rural America.


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Learn More About Our Work
Learn how RWJF is working with others to create healthier communities nationwide.
Browse research and resources supporting efforts to achieve better health for all.
Explore RWJF's vision for improving health, equity and well-being in America.