Why rural communities?

They’re home to deeply-committed residents experiencing inadequate health outcomes.

Many rural areas have rich soil, deep manufacturing roots, and committed local residents. Yet, many residents in these communities are less likely to have access to health services and have a lower life expectancy than their urban neighbors. That’s why we work together so rural communities can thrive.

We're committed to equitable health solutions.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to health improvement in rural communities, so we listen to residents to understand local challenges and potential solutions. Too many communities have been marginalized, and many residents cannot access affordable, quality health care. We partner with local communities to ensure everyone has a voice in how to improve health and no one is left behind.

We address social factors that affect communities.

When we listen to community members and research historic gaps, we realize that to improve health, we need to tackle its social determinants—the issues outside of the medical office that impact a person’s health. This includes eliminating food deserts, improving the built environment, enhancing transportation to health facilities, creating more places for children to be active, and addressing poor housing conditions.

Our Goals

Increase healthy eating and active living in communities with low incomes.

What we know:
There’s a high prevalence of obesity-related diseases in the counties where we work. As communities analyzed this issue, they concluded that some areas lack access to healthy food; some are going hungry; and many residents, especially Black and Latinx populations, have little control over the food system. Similarly, recreation resources are unevenly distributed, with wealthier regions attracting more parks and playgrounds.

What we do:
We’re partnering with residents to promote healthy eating and active living by increasing equitable access to healthy foods and recreational and exercise opportunities in areas of the county with few to no available resources.

Reduce rates of substance misuse and overdose deaths.

What we know:
A lack of treatment capacity, high uninsured rates in some sections of the population, and rising opioid overdose deaths have prompted stakeholders to confront the complex issues of behavioral health and substance misuse at the state level. Like many parts of the state, Healthy Places NC communities are struggling to reduce rates of addiction to harmful substances and to decrease or eliminate overdose deaths.

What we do:
We’re investing in organizations that are working to tackle substance misuse and addiction at the county and state level. We’re supporting residents working within counties to address substance misuse and overdose deaths by investing in evidence-informed, community-based research and education efforts, systems change approaches, and advocacy efforts.

Address childhood trauma for children from neighborhoods with low incomes.

What we know:
Evidence continues to emerge about the negative social-emotional and health impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. Young children who have experienced significant trauma and toxic stress are more likely than their peers to have developmental delays and suffer negative health consequences later in life. Trauma and toxic stress are amplified in areas that are more prone to natural disasters and economic dislocation. When institutions and caretakers are not aware of the impact of trauma, they sometimes react to the symptoms of stress in ways that reinforce harmful trends. Increased state and national conversations about ACEs are encouraging local communities to act.

What we do:
We’re partnering with community members to engage residents in raising awareness of ACEs and to map the systemic drivers of adverse childhood experiences such as poverty and racism. This process can help institutions and caretakers use trauma-informed approaches and can inform community and state-level advocacy efforts.

Fostering a healthy North Carolina

Many of the Healthy Places NC communities are also working to increase equitable access to care and equitable health outcomes—our statewide bodies of work.

Where We Work

Ten North Carolina counties participate in Healthy Places NC.

We have been working with communities since 2012, developing strategies and putting them into action.

Our Grantmaking Strategies

We leverage a variety of strategies to advance our goals, across all programs, initiatives, and bodies of work.

Activating Change With Our Values

We start by listening. Believe in communities. Engage unlikely partners. Employ a place-based approach. Believe equity is essential to everything we do. Focus on outcomes. Support scale and sustainability.

Funding Opportunities

Find out what we’re funding now.

Our Team

Program Officer

Program Officer

Program Coordinator

Rural Support Organization