Collaborative Health Innovation Program (CHIP) grant call for proposals

Launching its second and final grant cycle of the year, Nantahala Health Foundation has announced a call for proposals directed at regional nonprofits and governmental agencies with innovative ideas to improve the social determinants that impact health and well-being throughout the six westernmost counties and the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina.

Applications for NHF’s Collaborative Health Innovation Program, or CHIP grants, of up to $50,000 will be accepted through Sept. 23. CHIP grants are intended to support out-of-the-box thinking about how to strengthen the places we live, learn, work and play, said Lori Bailey, the foundation’s executive director.

“Our CHIP grant program is designed to encourage two or more organizations to join forces to implement problem-solving programs designed to make the region a better place for everyone,” Bailey said. “During this grant window, we will be looking specifically to partner with organizations that bring forth leverage-building collaborations, as well as innovative ideas for our region.”

Potential applicants are encouraged to make the most of the community’s existing resources as they consider options for implementing and measuring the success of their unique approach to solving or, preferably, preventing our most pressing health issues, she said.

“Our first grant opportunity of 2020 – the NIMble grant – was aimed at immediate needs and stabilizing efforts, as well as funding to address COVID-19’s devesting impact on regional service providers,” she said. “We are grateful to the 33 agency leaders who submitted NIMble proposals, and we are looking forward to the prospect of making awards in October to support worthwhile organizations doing incredible work in our communities.

“With CHIP, we are directing our focus toward funding for programs designed to strengthen our communities’ overall health,” Bailey said. “By working toward better health for all now, we greatly improve our chances of diminishing the negative impact another COVID-like crisis could have on our mountain communities.”

A growing body of evidence supports the fact that an individual’s health is influenced by factors outside the clinical framework of doctors’ offices and hospitals. Known as ‘social determinants of health,’ factors such as housing, education, transportation, access to quality foods, and social support networks are recognized as significant influencers on health and well-being.

“Organizational leaders considering submitting CHIP proposals should ask themselves: ‘Who can I collaborate with to strengthen the implementation and ultimate success of my idea?’ and ‘What new problem-solving elements can I and my collaborators bring to the region?’,” Bailey said. “Ultimately, we are looking for exceptional plans that will grow, strengthen and nurture a culture of health in our communities.”

Western North Carolina nonprofit service providers, county and state educational professionals, and governmental agency leaders are to be commended for their tireless efforts to bolster the lives of those they encounter, especially during these extraordinary times, said Jane Kimsey, who serves as chair of NHF’s Board of Directors. A retired Macon County social services director herself, Kimsey volunteered to lead the fledgling foundation in its inaugural year and beyond out of a desire to help people help themselves, she said.

“As a ninth-generation resident of the area that became Macon County in 1828, I am proud of the work Nantahala Health Foundation has accomplished to improve Western North Carolina lives in such a short time,” Kimsey said. “While we realize the importance of helping people by removing immediate obstacles to their health and well-being, like feeding the hungry and treating the chronically ill, we also understand that real change is possible and sustainable when issues are addressed higher upstream by preventing health problems before they ever have a chance to reach us and our neighbors.”

Adding to Bailey’s questions for prospective CHIP applicants, Kimsey recommended regional change-makers eager to secure this funding opportunity ask themselves questions like, What is the root cause of the problem driving people to need support from my organization? and Who can I collaborate with and what can we do to address those root causes?

Working as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, Nantahala Health Foundation seeks to partner with nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain counties and the Qualla Boundary to achieve better health outcomes for all. In 2019, NHF awarded nearly $1.5 million to 28 programs throughout the region. Foundation leaders plan to award an additional $1 million by the end of the year through their Needs Immediately Met and Collaborative Health Innovation Program grants.