Our Future Direction

How We Got Here 

Over the last year, as we have continued to support organizations and communities throughout North Carolina, we’ve also been conducting a  strategic review, exploring answers to the two most important questions we face: what will it take for North Carolina to become one of the healthiest states in the nation where everyone has an opportunity to be healthy, and what will be our role in this pursuit.

We have drawn upon our own experiences, as well as those of our grantees and partners in undertaking this exploration, a process that has brought us to today – sharing where we are intending to focus our work moving forward.

Bear in mind, this is a work in progress. Some of what we have outlined below comes from years of experience working in a particular space, such as healthy food. And some we are newer to and just getting started with our planning, such as early childhood. As a result, things are very much subject to change.


Where We are Headed

Our approach to helping make North Carolina one of the healthiest states in the nation, includes:

Early Childhood
Goal: Every young child (0-5) in North Carolina is on the path to lasting health, well-being, and success

  • Build broad support for the systemic changes needed to invest in early child development: harness the power of narrative, networks, and data to create change.
  • Improve living conditions for children and families: boost income, expand access to healthy food, and strengthen housing safety and stability.
  • Support caregivers and strengthen family cohesion: provide caregivers with the time and support they need to raise healthy children.
  • Expand access to high-quality early care and education environments: change policies and practices to increase the affordability, accessibility, and quality of child care.
  • Strengthen multi-sector collaborations to improve systems that impact early child development: support collaborative efforts to build child, family, and community resilience.
  • Support health care system improvements that promote healthy development: facilitate the shift toward patient- and family-centered care and drivers of health.


Healthy Communities
Goal: Every community in North Carolina supports good health

  • Build broad support for communities to create conditions so that everyone in North Carolina has opportunity to be healthy: harness the power of narrative, relationships, and data to create change.
  • Strengthen capacity for effective multi-sector collaborations, coalitions, and partnerships to improve health equity: enhance technical assistance and peer networks.
  • Develop leadership capacity to improve health equity: increase leadership by and accountable to community members experiencing the greatest inequities.
  • Leverage and influence the shift to “buy health,” through emerging pilot and testing opportunities: contribute to increased understanding and implementation of practices that improve health by addressing social needs and identifying and acting on root causes.
  • Support the development of multi-sector partnerships that identify and address health inequities: spread learning and practices across the state.


Healthy Food
Goal: Everyone in North Carolina has access to healthy food

  • Build broad support for the systemic changes needed improve access to healthy food: harness the power of narrative, relationships, and data to create change.
  • Maximize state-level impact of federal food and nutrition assistance programs: increase participation in federal food and nutrition programs, like school meals, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
  • Support the development and strengthening of community-led food systems: support communities to transform their food and farm environments and economies.
  • Increase access to healthy food retail in under-resourced communities: create conditions for healthy food purchasing.
  • Support innovation in the charitable food sector: support individuals and organizations committed to addressing food insecurity to think and act beyond emergency food distribution to systems change.


Oral Health
Goal: Everyone in North Carolina can access quality, affordable oral health services

  • Build broad support for the systemic changes needed improve oral health: harness the power of narrative, relationships, and data to create change.
  • Spread best practices and existing models: increase adoption of clinical, operational, and person-centered practices that increase access and improve outcomes.
  • Develop and test new models of care and financing: support innovation in workforce, financing, and community-based care to sustainably increase access and improve outcomes.
  • Increase access to and quality of care at mission-driven safety net providers: increase access in underserved areas.


What’s Next

We’re realists. While we know we want to do everything possible to advance health in North Carolina, we know we can’t. And we certainly know we can’t go at it alone. Elevating North Carolina in the ranks of healthiest states will take the collective efforts of many, as well as a narrowing of the strategies outlined above.  As such, we are wrapping up a process of seeking input from the public, grantees, stakeholders, and subject-matter experts across the state – part of a broader, long-term effort informing our roadmap for the future. We look forward to sharing refinements to our strategy and resulting funding opportunities as they become available.