Healthy Communities

Our goal within this priority area is that every community in North Carolina has the conditions for good health.

Overall Perspective

Creating opportunities for people in North Carolina to be healthy requires changing commonly held beliefs around the actual drivers of health, confronting structural racism, and elevating the role of policy and systems change. This was true before COVID-19, and even more a reality today.

The recognition that certain policies and practices over time have had destructive consequences – including inequitable distributions of money, power, access, property and resources – coincides with an understanding that health is inextricably linked to community conditions, and that actively engaged stakeholders outside of health care are essential in developing practical and long-lasting changes that improve health. Health equity cannot be achieved without addressing structural racism. By bringing Black, Latino, American Indian, and marginalized community members and groups into the process, strengthening local organizations, and confronting systemic racism and other structural failures, we can go beyond individual needs and improve opportunities for everyone to experience good health.

Strategic Approach and Current Focus

Since developing a focus on improving health equity through Community-Centered Health in 2014, we have deeply invested in nine communities across the state. Key tenets of this work include community members at the center of the initiatives, supporting clinical-community collaborations, and focusing on root causes of health inequities. That work continues, as does a broader commitment to strengthening the capacity of individuals, organizations, and networks to advance health equity by influencing policies, practices, relationships, power dynamics, and flow of resources at the local and state levels.

Specifically, our objectives are to:

  • Invest in the capacity of community coalitions to identify and remove barriers to good health with a focus on the “root causes” of health inequities.
  • Strengthen the capacity of individuals, institutions, and community-based organizations to engage stakeholders and advance health equity.

A few examples of recent work, includes:

  • Continuing to support our Community-Centered Health grantees to sustain gains and impact local systems and conditions.
  • Developing new funding opportunities focused on community power building, community-based advocacy mobilization, and supporting Latino-serving and American Indian organizations to engage in advocacy and systems change work.
  • Facilitating the development of sustainable partnerships between health care and community-based organizations, such as with our investment in Food is Medicine.
  • Supporting the engagement of policymakers and other officials to further center drivers of health in policymaking and resource allocation.
  • Supporting the development of collaborative, resilient, and adaptive leaders and organizations to address drivers of health in communities, with a focus on people of color and rural areas.

In More Detail

View our Healthy Communities Dashboard for a visual summary of key components of our work in this focus area.


Contact Us

Marquita Mbonu
Program Officer

Shelia Reich
Director, Racial Equity and Healthy Communities

Valerie Stewart
Director, Healthy Communities


Community-Centered Health

Residents, community organizations, and health care, working together.

BUILD Health Challenge

Since 2016, we have proudly joined funders from across the country in supporting the BUILD Health Challenge, strengthening community collaborations for improved health.