Nantahala Health Foundation has announced a call for grant proposals directed at regional nonprofits and governmental agencies with immediate needs, especially those magnified by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Applications for Needs Immediately Met, or NIMble grants, of up to $10,000 will be accepted through Aug. 5 and are intended to support one-time critical purchases, as well as immediate needs for stabilization or crisis response, said Lori Bailey, NHF’s executive director.

“The NIMble grant program ensures Nantahala Health Foundation can act quickly to meet our partners’ most crucial needs,” Bailey said.

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that an individual’s health is influenced by factors beyond the clinical framework of doctors’ offices and hospitals. Known as ‘social determinants of health,’ factors such as housing, education, transportation, access to healthy food, and social supports are known to significantly influence the health of individuals, families and entire communities.

“To grow and strengthen a culture of health in our communities, we must address the obstacles standing in our way, such as poverty, training for and access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education, safe and affordable housing, in addition to access to quality health care,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations and agencies working tirelessly in our communities to assure quality-of-life conditions are available are often disconnected from medical services and public health programs traditionally considered the sole providers of improved health.”

In addition to NHF’s identified priorities around social determinants of health, the organization signaled its desire to support nonprofit and public agencies impacted by the coronavirus pandemic by establishing its COVID-19 Impact Recovery Fund in April. That is when the foundation launched a community support campaign and opened funding opportunities. To date, nearly $50,000 has been raised, said Lisa Duff, NHF’s advancement officer.

While it’s true that Nantahala Health Foundation is new to Western North Carolina’s nonprofit landscape, the organization’s regional roots run deep, said Jane Kimsey, who chairs a 10-member volunteer board with representation from each of the six counties served by NHF, as well as the Qualla Boundary.

“We were established a year and a half ago with a mission to eliminate barriers to health, and our hard work is already changing lives,” Kimsey said. “Almost immediately on the heels of our first grant award this past December, the COVID pandemic reached our mountain communities. Our team reacted to the need without hesitation, putting NHF squarely in the category of an up-and-coming change agent for the region.”

A partnership in April with Dogwood Health Trust and other Mission Health System legacy foundations was established to source vital personal protective equipment for medical professionals, first responders and essential front-line workers throughout the region. Additionally, NHF partnered with the Community Foundation of WNC to establish an Emergency Disaster Response Fund that has since distributed some $1.3 million in grants. NHF has also served as a vital conduit of information for critical communications related to resources available to support the service organizations that are so vital to our communities during this time.

Working as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, Nantahala Health Foundation seeks to partner with nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies in Jackson, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon and Swain counties and the Qualla Boundary to achieve better health outcomes for all. For more information about how to apply for Nantahala Health Foundation’s NIMble grant or donate to their COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Fund, visit nantahalahealthfoundation.org or connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.