Chapel Hill, NC – North Carolina received a $449,590 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve the quality of public health and prepare for national public health accreditation. The grant will be administered by the University of North Carolina School of Public Health’s service arm, the N.C. Institute for Public Health.The grant is part of a national program called Lead States in Public Health Quality Improvement: A Multi-State Learning Collaborative, which is managed by the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) and the Public Health Leadership Society (PHLS).

North Carolina is one of 16 states chosen to participate in the program. The grant will support the implementation of projects to address specific health outcomes such as decreasing the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases or reducing the burden of illness due to tobacco or alcohol use.

Administered by the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH), the grant will also fund activities such as informing local health departments across the state about national voluntary accreditation, participating in national Public Health Accreditation Board workgroups, conducting quality improvement activities to prepare state health departments for accreditation, piloting national accreditation standards and conducting quality improvement mini-collaboratives with local health departments.

Dr. Edward L. Baker, UNC School of Public Health research professor of health policy and administration, and NCIPH director, will be the project’s principal investigator.

“North Carolina is a leader in this national movement in public health known as accreditation,” said Baker, a former division chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are lucky in our state to have a strong partnership of the Institute, the state Division of Public Health and the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors working together in what is now known as the North Carolina Accreditation Learning Collaborative.”

To date, 34 counties and the state itself have passed strict performance standards to be accredited.

“North Carolina has demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of their public health services and programs. Their work will lead the way as other local and state public health agencies across the nation prepare for accreditation and strive to create healthier communities,” said James S. Marks, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the health group at RWJF.

NNPHI and PHLS will provide guidance to North Carolina and the other 15 states receiving grants and share the lessons learned with health officials across the country. The project will play a critical role in helping the public health community prepare for national accreditation in 2011 and will help local and state health departments ensure they are providing quality public health services and programs to improve the health of their community.

Acknowledging the momentum surrounding the national voluntary accreditation program for public health departments, NNPHI Chief Executive Officer Joseph Kimbrell said, “This project is timed to coincide with the launch of the national accreditation standards and will help health departments across the country identify and implement the tools and methods they need to ensure the safety and health of the communities they serve.”

Lead States in Public Health Quality Improvement builds off the momentum of two Multi-State Learning Collaborative (MLC) initiatives also funded by RWJF. States in the first phase of the MLC project explored the use of accreditation as a quality improvement process and helped shape the recommendations that established the Public Health Accreditation Board, the nonprofit group that will administer the voluntary accreditation program for state and local public health departments beginning in 2011. The second phase of the MLC brought together 10 states to explore best practices for teaching and implementing quality improvement practices at the state and local level. North Carolina has been a part of these efforts since the MLC project’s inception.

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The National Network of Public Health Institutes promotes the development and sustainability of unique non-profit organizations that are making innovative contributions to public health. Public health institutes are committed to collaborating with government, the business community, academia, and other non-profit organizations to improve public health structures, systems and outcomes. Twenty-eight member institutes in twenty-six states currently share NNPHI’s vision to foster innovations in health.

The Public Health Leadership Society (PHLS) is a membership organization comprised of the alumni from the following leadership programs for senior public health professionals: National Public Health Leadership Institute, State and Regional Public Health Leadership Institutes, and the Robert Wood Johnson State Health Leadership Initiative. PHLS provides an opportunity for alumni to continue their learning experiences and leadership development, maintain and develop professional and personal relations, and contribute to innovative thinking about public health issues. Members of PHLS collaborate with other national public health organizations to shape the future of public health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

Note: Baker can be reached at (919) 966-1069 or

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467 or

News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596 or