Leading Change. Transforming Communities.

North Shore Community Health Network

North Shore Community Health Network Fund

The North Shore Community Health Network (the Network or NSCHN) is a collaboration among community-based organizations across the North Shore with a shared mission to enhance health and quality of life in our region.  The Network was originally created by the merger of two Community Health Network Areas (CHNA 13 and 14) and is known as CHNA13/14 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Mission: The Network’s understanding of “health” is more than access to healthcare and the absence of disease. We strive for a healthy community where people come together to bring about positive social, mental, physical, economic and environmental conditions and create healthy communities.

Through grant support, professional development, peer learning, training and networking, we provide opportunities for organizations throughout our region to build their capacity and collaborate with others for greater impact.  We advance a Healthy Communities approach in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, hospitals, service and community development agencies, schools, businesses, boards of health, other non-profit organizations and citizens.

The Network area includes the communities of: Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Rockport, Wenham, Danvers, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Salem, Saugus and Swampscott and Topsfield. 

Current NSCHN funders include: Lahey Hospital Medical System and North Shore Medical Center.

2015 Community Health Improvement Grant Initiative: The North Shore Community Health Network awarded 12 grants totaling $77,000 to organizations across the region for the grant period of June 1, 2015 - May 31, 2016. A summary of outcomes from those grants will be made available soon at www.nschnetwork.org.

2018 Grant Cycle - Community Health Improvement

Project Length:  Grant period will be June 2018 – May 2019 (12 months)

Grant Size:  $10,000 - $50,000

Application Procedure

The 2018 Cycle begins with a Letter of Inquiry, available at www.NSCHNetwork.org/2018-grants/. Letters may be submitted anytime via email to Bernadette Orr, NSCHN Director, at nschndirector@gmail.com. All Letters must be received no later than December 31, 2017. The NSCHN Steering Committee will review submitted letters and invite applications from those organizations whose projects are most closely aligned with our funding priorities.

Once invited to apply, proposals must be submitted through ECCF's Application Portal. If you do not yet have a login for our application Portal, please read our Grant Application Process page which will give you access to the Portal.  This Budget Form is required to be submitted along with your application.

Use the Short-Form Application (5 questions plus budget information and supporting documents totaling 3-4 pages) for your request.

Funding Priorities

Competitive proposals should address one of the following strategic health priorities of the Network. See the Application Guidelines section below for details.

  1. Youth and Adolescent Behavioral Health (total of $130,000 to be awarded)
  2. Elder Health (total of $85,000 to be awarded)

NSCHN is looking to invest in high-impact projects for which the additional infusion of $10,000 will make a substantial contribution to the project’s ultimate success.  Applicants should be able to detail specific actions and deliverables made possible by this grant award that otherwise would not be accomplished.  Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate their experience with quick turn-around projects that can be carried out within a 9-month timeframe.  Examples of competitive projects might include a demonstration or pilot effort that has strong replication potential; a new relationship or collaboration that must be funded to proceed; and/or a project likely to have high community impact for which a funding gap remains.  NSCHN is willing to provide “gap” funding to support a large-scale project primarily funded by another entity or entities; however, please note that specific deliverables tied to this one-time award are required.

Strategies and activities suitable for funding have been left intentionally broad.  Eligible grant uses include, but are not limited to, staff time, training, equipment and other capital expenditures.  Non-eligible uses include:

  1. General operating support for an ongoing program;
  2. Subscriptions;
  3. Conference fees and/or associated travel costs; and
  4. Funds that substitute for or displace existing project support dollars.


Organizations must meet the following criteria to be eligible.

  • Eligible applicants include community-based health and social service organizations, community development organizations, local municipalities, schools, communities of faith, and local coalitions that are interested in improving community health.
  • For the purpose of this RFP, an organization is defined as a 501(c)(3), a municipal department, or an organization with an independent federal tax ID number. If groups wish to apply under the auspices of a fiscal agent or sponsor, a letter of agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the program and the sponsor must be included with the application.
  • Each organization may only apply for one grant. For example, if an organization has multiple programs, it is up to the organization to determine the single best proposal to put forth. This does not preclude an organization, or program within an organization, from collaborating with a separate agency that is the lead applicant on a different application.
  • Programs or services under this grant must be delivered within our service area: Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Rockport, Topsfield, Wenham, Danvers, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Salem, Saugus and Swampscott.
  • Organizations that are recipients of an existing NSCHN grant in 2017 are not eligible for a second grant until the 2018 cycle.​

Budget Guidelines/Fiscal Expenditures

  • No grants will be made to individuals.  Consideration will only be given to organizations meeting eligibility criteria.
  • Non-eligible uses of funds include general operating support for an ongoing program; subscriptions; conference fees and/or associated travel costs; and funds that substitute for or displace existing project support dollars.​
  • Fringe benefits and overhead costs are not allowable.

Review Process

A grant review team will be assigned to each grant category and will review and score all proposals. Funding recommendations will be made to the Network’s Steering Committee for approval, and then to the Board of Trustees of the Essex County Community Foundation for approval. Reviewers will be screened for any potential conflict of interest in the funding decision.

Responses will be evaluated based on thoroughness of response to narrative questions, supporting budget plan, overall merit, and alignment with Network criteria. 

Requirements of Recipient Organizations

  1. Submit a Grant Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Terms Form to the Essex County Community Foundation, the Network’s acting fiscal agent. Instructions on submitting the Form will be sent to awardees by ECCF.
  2. Actively participate in the Network and share project results with other members.
  3. Submit the grant award announcement to local media identifying North Shore Community Health Network and Lahey Health as funders.
  4. Identify the North Shore Community Health Network as a co-sponsor of events/activities in any media and/or public relationship efforts.
  5. Submit a brief online report prior to any new application to the Fund.  Interim reports will be due Feb. 28, 2018 for any multi-year grant recipient or any organization intending to apply in Round 2 for a second one-year grant. Final reports for all recipients will be due on June 30, 2018.
  6. Return unused funds to the North Shore Community Health Network Fund at ECCF. No grant extensions or carry-over of funds are allowed without specific written permission from the North Shore Community Health Network.

Background and Rationale

In May 2014, CHNA 13/14 was awarded Determination of Need (DoN) funding by Lahey Health totaling approximately $1.7 Million, which was part of Lahey Health’s mandate when they were granted approval to expand their emergency departments in the region.  CHNA 13/14 contracted with John Snow, Inc. (JSI), a recognized expert in community health assessment and planning who has been working in CHNA 13/14’s service area for nearly a decade, to undertake a quantitative and qualitative assessment of priority health needs in the region. The project was conducted in three phases, which allowed CHNA 13/14 to: 1) compile an extensive amount of quantitative and qualitative data, particularly with respect to older adults (65+) and youth; 2) engage and involve key community stakeholders; and 3) develop a sound strategic plan that had the buy-in and support of CHNA 13/14’s partners.

The assessment identified serious impediments to community health that impact all area residents.  These include:

  • Limited Access, Barriers to Care, and Disparities in Health Outcomes
  • Health Risk Factors:  High Rates of Obesity, Limited Physical Exercise, Poor Nutrition, Tobacco Use, Stress
  • High Chronic Disease Rates, Including Cancer
  • High Rates of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The assessment also confirmed the impact that could be achieved through priority attention to the health needs of youth/adolescents and elders.

Alignment with Massachusetts Department of Public Health Priorities

In January, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released updated guidance for the Determination of Need process that underlies this and other CHNA funding rounds (find these guidelines here). In particular, the new guidelines prioritize strategies that address the Social Determinants of Health, or the factors impacting people’s physical, social and economic environments, as the preferred means for promoting improved health outcomes over the long term. The most competitive applicants for the 2017 Community Health Improvement Grants should be able to describe the impact their proposed project or program will have in enhancing the social determinants of health for their identified target community.

The six priority social determinants of health identified by the Commonwealth are:

  1. Social Environment - a community’s social conditions, cultural dynamics, and degree of social capital, including social networks, participation, cohesion, support, inclusion, integration, discrimination, trust, and norms. When strong, these elements provide people with a source of support; protect people from stressers; buffer the effects of stress; connect people with resources; and influence health behaviors.
  2. Built Environment - the physical parts of where we live, work, travel and play, including transportation, buildings, streets, and open spaces. The built environment is a complex system made up of “hard” infrastructure, such as houses, parks, and transportation systems, as well as “soft” infrastructure, such as walkability and air quality.
  3. Housing - the development and maintenance of safe, quality, affordable living accommodations for all people. Safe and stable housing provides personal security, reduces stress and exposure to disease, and provides a foundation for meeting basic hygienic, nutritional, and health care needs.
  4. Violence and Trauma - Violence has been shown to influence the physical, mental, and emotional health of victims and their families. The fear of violence as well as violent acts exacerbate existing illness and increase the risk for onset of disease. As a result, a safer community is linked with better health outcomes.
  5. Employment - the availability of safe, stable, quality, well-compensated work for all people impacts health in many ways. Jobs that protect against exposure to physical risks and hazards; environments that support healthy activities and behaviors; organizational structures that limit stress; and wages, salaries, and benefits that protect against poverty and support and promote health are key to individual and community health.
  6. Education - Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors (e.g., regular physical activity, routine screenings), have better health outcomes, and live longer. Children of educated adults also experience better health outcomes compared to children of less educated adults.

Informed Strategies

The most competitive projects will have well-informed approaches and strategies that draw upon best available research evidence.  Research alone is not enough – the Network seeks projects that draw upon local experience and expertise (e.g., cultural appropriateness, community conditions, professional insight) in combination with research and other data-based evidence to provide a strong rationale for how the proposed project will impact community health outcome(s).

Measurable Outcomes

Outcomes must be specific and measurable.  Applicants are expected to provide information on how they will collect and utilize data to measure changes identified in the outcomes.  In designing programs, strategies, and monitoring systems for their projects, applicants should carefully consider and communicate the type and level of outcomes anticipated at the individual, agency, and/or community levels (reference the list below) as well as their capacity to track and measure observable changes:  

Individual Level Outcomes may include specific behavior changes, access to information, gaining skills in managing personal health, participation in health-related programming, referrals to service, as well as changes in daily functioning, overall wellness and health status.

Agency Level Outcomes include the acquisition of knowledge or skills by staff; increase in agency capacity to serve clients in need; ability to reach a larger number of clients; improved tools such as forms, surveys, screening protocols; development of agency policy or procedures; strengthening of existing services; culturally-aligned care or services; continuation of existing services; new funding mechanisms, or ability to compete more effectively for funding.

Community Level Outcomes include such examples as new collaborations and strengthened partnerships; improved linkages between levels and systems of care; coordination of efforts reducing barriers to services; policy advocacy and policy change; shifts in norms around prevention, access or healthcare; improvement in one or more social determinants of health.

Category 1: Youth and Adolescent Behavioral Health

Areas of Need: Young people across the Network communities face multiple threats to their health and well-being.  Some of the greatest areas of need identified through our assessment are:

  • Depression and Other Mental Health Concerns
  • Alcohol, Opioid/Prescription Drugs, Marijuana, and Other Substance Abuse
  • Suicide
  • Risky Sexual Behavior
  • Safe Internet Use
  • Stress

Highlighted Responses/Interventions: The Network is open to proposals addressing these and other areas of need with evidence- and/or experience-based approaches that will have the greatest impact.  Examples of high quality responses and interventions cited in our assessment include:

  • Peer to Peer Programs in Schools
  • Programs to Support “Mindfulness” and Promote Resilience/Stress Reduction
  • Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Collaborations among Schools, Community Organizations, and Law Enforcement
  • Employment and Training Interventions with Businesses and Stakeholders
  • Promotion of Diverse After-school Opportunities
  • Safe and Responsible Internet Use
  • Family Case Management and Support Programs
  • Sexual Health Education and Gender Identity Interventions

Category 2: Elder Health and Services

Areas of Need: Older adults are among the fastest growing age groups in Network communities.  Many of the cities/towns in our service have higher percentages of 65+year old residents and households with one or more persons 65+ years or older compared to the Commonwealth as a whole.  Many older adults grapple with health risk factors that have a major impact on their physical, emotional and mental well-being.  Older adults are especially impacted by barriers to care such as social isolation, food insecurity, cost, transportation challenges, fragmentation of services, and lack of care coordination and caregiver support.  Specific needs include:

  • Depression and Stress/Anxiety
  • Dementia and Other Cognitive Impairments
  • Falls Prevention
  • Chronic Disease Management and Self-Management Support
  • Alcohol and Opioid/Prescription Drug Abuse
  • Programs to Address Barriers to Care 

Highlighted Responses/Interventions: The Network is open to proposals addressing these and other areas of need with evidence- and/or experience-based approaches that will have the greatest impact.  Examples of high quality responses and interventions cited in our assessment include:

  • Activities Focused on Identifying and Engaging Isolated Elders
  • Initiatives Enhancing the Care Transitions Process from Hospital and Other Service Settings (Particularly with the Integration of Behavioral Health)
  • Initiatives Focusing on Navigation of Community-Based Services
  • Programs to Support Independent Living and Caregiver Support
  • Programs Supporting “Options” Planning for Frail Elders
  • Interventions to Address Hoarding
  • Programs Enhancing Geriatric Care Management
  • Programs Enhancing Screening and Identification of Elders with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues
  • Programs Addressing Transportation Barriers and Isolation

Community Support & Collaboration

The funds available to the North Shore Community Health Network are specifically allocated to improve community health and, as such, place particular importance on local support and collaboration.  Applicants should be able to demonstrate community support for the proposed project or program and speak to their mechanisms for ensuring community voice in program design and direction.  Such evidence could be demonstrated through the governance mechanisms of the requesting organization, feedback mechanisms for soliciting community input, or other community outreach and engagement strategies.

The Network is also interested in supporting intra- and cross-sectoral collaborations that leverage our limited grant dollars to achieve broader impact.  Such collaborations could, for example, bring non-profit and public sector actors together within a specific town or community; unite similar organizations working in separate geographies; or bring together a range of not-for-profit organizations working within different sectors to address a shared priority.

Additional Guidelines for Multi-Year Projects

Applicants seeking funds for multi-year projects should be aware of the following:

  • A highly compelling rationale must be provided – only a small number of multi-year grants will be made available in 2017.
  • Progress reports will be required during the first year of implementation, and subsequent disbursements of funding will only be made if the applicant is able to report satisfactory progress against the project’s implementation plan.

For more information about the Fund, please contact:

Bernadette Orr
North Shore Community Health Network