Impact Health awards $400K in grants to support community health work

Press release from Impact Health:

Impact Health awarded eight Western North Carolina-based organizations grants totaling $400,000 to invest in their community health workforce and connect community members to the Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP) and other health-related resources.

HOP is a first-of-its-kind program led by Impact Health in WNC that uses Medicaid dollars to pay for a variety of nonmedical services related to transportation, nutrition, housing and interpersonal safety. Many WNC community members do not currently have access to these critical resources. Research shows that unmet social needs contribute up to 80 percent of what influences an individual’s health and wellbeing.

“We wanted to explore ways to deepen our relationships in the region,” explains Dionne Greenlee-Jones, senior director of innovation and equity development at Impact Health. “It made sense to partner with community health workers who are invested in health equity. We made sure to engage them early and often throughout the grant planning process in partnership with the WNC Community Health Worker Coalition.”

In total, 30 organizations applied for Impact Health’s funding initiative, demonstrating a growing recognition of the importance of community health workers (CHWs) in WNC.

“As trusted messengers, community health workers are critical for ensuring community health by bridging gaps in services, advocating for underserved and rural populations and promoting culturally competent care,” shares Honey Yang Estrada, MPH, CHW, president of the North Carolina Community Health Worker Association (NCCHWA) and member of the grant selection committee. “Their grassroots leadership fosters accessibility and addresses the unique needs of the communities served, empowering individuals to navigate complex systems. CHWs’ greatest strengths lie in their lived experience, their ability to build trust and facilitate connections between systems and communities.”

Impact Health engaged members of the WNC Community Health Worker Coalition and NCCHWA to help evaluate applications. Awardees were selected based on their demonstrated commitment to community service, equity, advocacy and collaboration in addition to their ability to reach HOP-eligible populations; agreement to participate in pilot training, technical assistance, and evaluation activities; and willingness to work toward living wage and NCCHWA certification.

Eight organizations were selected for funding based on their ability to support pilot goals. Each will receive $50,000 to invest in their CHW workforce and participate in pilot activities over the next year. Awardees include:

  • Caja Solidaria, working to increase access to locally farmed healthy foods through a variety of programs for community members in Henderson and Transylvania counties.
  • Centro Unido Latino Americano, providing resources to address language accessibility, food security and accessible healthcare for community members living in Avery, Buncombe, Burke, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford and Yancey counties.
  • Mountain Community Health Partnership, providing whole-person medical and dental care to community members in Mitchell and Yancey counties regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Operation Gateway, helping address social health needs and barriers associated with incarceration for individuals reentering communities in Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Haywood, Henderson, McDowell, Rutherford and Transylvania counties.
  • Safe Shelter, providing emergency housing for WNC families facing homelessness and a safe space for people of color and LGBTQ+ community members.
  • United Way of Rutherford County, providing community-based services for those living in Buncombe, Burke, Henderson, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania counties.
  • UNETE, facilitating access to resources for historically and presently marginalized communities in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson and Transylvania counties.
  • YMCA of Western North Carolina, supporting communities through a variety of programs including fitness centers, mobile food markets, youth sports and licensed childcare in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McDowell and Swain counties.

“CHWs are change agents who work hard to ensure their communities have what they need to thrive,” notes Milton Butterworth, community health manager at UNC Health Pardee, NCCHWA board member and member of the WNC Community Health Worker Coalition. “I hope this initiative and others like it will bring more attention and resources to this vital workforce that is critical for equitable access to healthy opportunities.”

About Impact Health

Impact Health is an Asheville-based nonprofit leading a network of more than 50 human service organizations participating in North Carolina’s Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP). HOP is a groundbreaking initiative to improve health that uses Medicaid funding to support social drivers of health across four areas of need: food, housing, transportation and interpersonal safety and toxic stress.

For more information about this funding opportunity, please visit

For more information about Impact Health, the organizations participating in HOP and pilot eligibility, visit

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