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Nantahala Health Foundation Awards Almost $1.5 Million To Local Organizations

Lilly Knoepp
Nantahala Health Foundation, a nonprofit health foundation covering six westernmost counties, announces its first round of grant funding.

The Nantahala Health Foundation  has awarded its first round of grants. The Macon-County based foundation created out of the sale of Mission Health gave out almost $1.5 million to organizations in five counties and the Qualla Boundary.  Lori Bailey has been the executive director of Nantahala Health since September.


“It was a pretty broad expanse from a few thousand dollars to over $200,000. I think this is critically important and I think that it will provide some opportunities that were previously not available in this region,” says Bailey. The grants went to organizations in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain counties and the Qualla Boundary.


Bailey says Nantahala received 62 applications and awarded 27 grants. The grants mainly focused on access to healthcare and education.

Bailey explains that the foundation’s priorities of healthcare access, education, transportation, poverty and quality housing were chosen through research and private listening sessions. 

“We will continue to do listening sessions to further refine our priorities to make sure that they continue to be reflective of what the needs of our communities are,” says Bailey. “We will look to our provider community and other organizations to have innovative and creative solutions to some of the root cause issues that affect our health.” 

Nantahala plans to announce the timeline for its next listening sessions and new grant cycle in early 2020. The organization has received $5 million from Mission Health so far and will receive $10 million more in the next two years.  

Here’s the full list of organizations that received funding. Bailey says that the organization has no plans to release the specific amount that each organization received: 

Access To Healthcare - 40% of total funding

-Blue Ridge Mountains Health Project/Free Dental Clinic – To increase access to emergency, restorative and preventative dental services to low-income residents of Western North Carolina.

-Clay County Emergency Medical Services – To establish a community paramedicine program that will allow EMTs to operate in expanded paramedic roles by assisting with public health, primary healthcare and preventive services to underserved and chronic patient populations in the community.

-Clay County Public Health Department – To support expansion of dental services through the mobile dental program.

-Clay County Schools – To increase access to school-based counseling and behavioral health services.

-Community Care Clinic of Franklin – To increase access to health care and medication assistance services.

-KIDS Place (WNC) – To support the Child Medical Evaluation Program serving child and youth victims of abuse and neglect.

-First Baptist Church of Franklin/Macon Medication Assistance Program – To provide vouchers and support for the Macon Medication Assistance Program.

-Macon County Emergency Management Services – To provide improvements in the technology infrastructure for Macon County EMS.

-Mountain Area Health Education Center (WNC) – To provide short-term student housing for the Rural Fellowship Program to support student and resident learners who are interested in practicing in the region.

-Swain County Emergency Management Services – To establish a community paramedicine program that will allow EMTs to operate in expanded paramedic roles by assisting with public health, primary healthcare and preventive services to underserved and chronic patient populations in the community.

-Swain County Health Department – To support expansion of dental services to low-income and uninsured patients.

-Vecinos Farmworker Health Program – For the purchase of medications, preventative supplies, health monitoring devices and vaccines to address patient health concerns and prevent more serious health problems.


Education - 39% of total funding

-Cherokee Indian Hospital – To purchase a simulation mannequin to allow our healthcare professionals and students to learn about, prepare for and respond to life threatening emergencies utilizing best standards and evidenced based regimens and equipment.

-Graham County Schools – To construct a Greenhouse for the Academy which will provide a venue for instruction in gardening, sustainable horticulture and business management and will provide fresh produce for the local community.

-HIGHTS(Jackson County) – To support the Tiny Home Build Proposal, part of the Youth Continuum of Care Project.

-Southwestern Child Development – To support expanded eligibility for early childhood education services for children ages 0-3 years old.

-Southwestern Community College – To purchase equipment for the new optician program.

-Swain County Recreation Department – To provide upgrades and renovations to improve accessibility for the recreation department swimming pool, increasing the programming capacity for the County’s Day Camp program.


Transportation - 9% of total funding

 -Clay County Transportation – To support expanded transportation services and to subsidize an affordable fare for passengers within Clay County needing access to employment.

-Grace Extended Ministries (Graham County) – To provide transportation alternatives to help establish the women’s residential treatment program.

-REACH of Macon County – To purchase a disability equipped passenger van to address transportation barriers.


Poverty - 8% of total funding

-Clay County Senior Food Project, a collaborative project between Clay County Food Pantry and Matt’s Ministry – To provide food and supplies to address food insecurity among seniors.

-HERE in Jackson County – To provide case management services to assist homeless households in securing emergency shelter and aid in obtaining and maintaining permanent, safe, affordable housing.

-Jackson County Department of Aging – To purchase thermal hot pads to improve the quality of food delivery to those served by Meals on Wheels.

-The Sparrows Nest Food Pantry (Cherokee County)– To provide food and supplies to address food insecurity among seniors.


Quality of housing - 4% of total funding

-Hinton Rural Life Center (Clay County)  – To provide supplies for home repair and mold remediation.

- Mountain Projects (Jackson County)  – To provide home repair and rehabilitation for the elderly and disadvantaged people.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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