More than four million people live in North Carolina’s 80 rural counties.

Why rural communities?

They're home to abundant natural resources, yet poor 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.

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.

Where We Work

Seven North Carolina counties participate in Healthy Places NC.

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

Our Process

We collaborate to tackle tough issues.

We unite partners and help communities build networks to solve long-standing health issues, such as: providing quality physical, mental, and oral health care; ensuring access to affordable health insurance; and combatting substance misuse and the opioid epidemic. We provide technical assistance so organizations can work collaboratively with diverse groups and partners.

We listen and learn together.

We know community members are the experts on what they need to live happy, healthy lives. Healthy eating and active living, substance misuse, and access to primary care are a few of the issues residents have identified as pressing health issues. To help communities set clear goals and strategies that will result in long-term, sustainable change, we review data about the issue, listen to community members, consider community context, gather input from experts, and continually monitor progress.

We build capacity.

We work long-term with rural communities and residents, building the capacity of new leaders, deepening relationships, and working to improve local, county, and state policies to support thriving communities and a healthier state.

We invest in long-term change.

We work holistically to foster sustainable systems change that improves the lives of North Carolinians. We review data about issues, listen to community members, consider community context, gather input from experts, support the development and implementation of strategies, and continually monitor progress.

Healthy Places NC Overview