Funding Needs and Priorities

An individual’s health is shaped by many factors beyond the medical system.  Known as ‘social determinants of health,’ housing, education, transportation, access to healthy food, social supports, and many other factors are now recognized as significant influencers of health.

To grow and strengthen a culture of health in our communities, we must address obstacles standing in our way. Obstacles like poverty, training for and access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education, safe and affordable housing, and access to quality health care.

Unfortunately, organizations and agencies working tirelessly in our communities to assure enhanced quality-of-life conditions are available—such as housing, transportation, education, income and employment assistance, child and family supports, community health services, and legal and criminal justice services—are often disconnected from medical services and public health programs traditionally considered the sole providers of improved health.

A growing body of research has shown that health care providers, non-profit social service organizations, and governmental agencies all have parts to play when it comes to addressing the social determinants of health within their communities.  It is imperative that the leaders of these organizations take steps to build stronger connections among the medical, social, and public health sectors.

Nantahala Health Foundation seeks to be a catalyst for these connections and the resulting broader community initiatives designed to improve the health and wellbeing of the region. We offer grants and opportunities to organizations and leaders who think innovatively and collaboratively about how to improve the health of our region.

Based on information gathered from our region and our new reality as we respond to and emerge from the COVID-19 impacts, our 2020 grantmaking priority areas are:


  • Career Technical Education:  Specifically, innovative projects that prepare individuals for the workforce, particularly by teaching job-readiness and retention skills other than technical skills for all ages.
  • Early Childhood Education initiatives:
    • Assisting expansion of the availability of childcare facilities
    • Increasing childcare affordability (such as scholarships for low-income families on the waiting list for voucher support)
    • Increasing the availability of summer camps and after school programs

Access to Health Care

  • Increasing access to health care, behavioral health services, medication assistance, and dental care.


  • Alleviating poverty
  • Ending food insecurity for older adults
  • Providing or increasing emergency housing shelters

Quality of Housing

  • Increasing the provision of home repair or rehabilitation for people in need
  • Providing access to mold remediation services

Special Interest Categories

  • Transportation. Transportation has been identified as a primary need in our region, one which impacts all social determinants of health. We seek to fund initiatives with either unique solutions and/or current efforts to provide transportation, especially those with collaborative efforts among human service or medical providers.
  • COVID-19 Impact and Recovery.  For organizations working in the priority areas listed above, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges to fulfilling their mission.  Nantahala Health Foundation has set aside a portion of our grantmaking for 2020 and 2021 to specifically address the impact and recovery efforts in our region.

Nantahala Health Foundation looks forward to partnering with community change agents in innovative organizations toward a shared goal of providing improved health opportunities for all.

Check below for links to more research and information about how social determinants impact health.