Healthy Places NC logo

MDC worked with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in its Healthy Places North Carolina (HPNC) initiative to find ways to incorporate community colleges as change agents in improving community health outcomes.

Healthy Places NC is a multi-year, multi-million dollar initiative working in some of the most distressed counties in rural North Carolina. The Trust asked MDC to help it engage community colleges serving those locations by conducting research and analysis of the colleges’ current and potential roles in improving health outcomes and influencing healthy behaviors in their communities.

The colleges and communities included:

  • Beaufort County Community College, Washington
  • Edgecombe Community College, Tarboro
  • Halifax Community College, Weldon
  • McDowell Technical Community College, Marion
  • Rockingham Community College, Wentworth
  • Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton
  • Nash Community College, Rocky Mount

Colleges explored specific projects to better provide health-related programming to their faculty, staff, students, and surrounding community. The colleges also formed a learning network to ensure that best practices were shared between institutions


  • Community colleges in rural areas developed and implemented programs to improve the health of their students, faculty, staff, and broader community
  • MDC facilitated conversations among college leadership to allow for cross-site engagement to share innovative techniques for serving rural communities
  • Colleges and key staff are now engaged in multi-sector partnerships focused on addressing many of the social determinants of health in their service areas.


Healthy Places NC Learning Network

What happened

  • MDC brought representatives of the colleges, including college presidents, to Winston-Salem for a two-day meeting to to discuss how each of the institutions saw their role in meeting their community’s broad health needs.
  • The second phase of the research involved site visits to each participating college. MDC sat down with faculty, staff, and students to explore in detail their colleges’ current programs and offerings aimed at addressing health needs on campus and in the larger community.
  • From those visits, MDC produced a report with a detailed analysis of each college and suggestions for next steps for encouraging community colleges to increase the role they play in advancing health outcomes in their service areas.
  • Colleges are now working with key partners to address food insecurity, the built environment, preventative health and health access, as well as a host of other challenges identified in their respective communities.

Creating healthier rural communities is an example how MDC is committed to equipping Southern leaders, institutions, and communities to improve economic mobility and advance equity.


For more information, contact Jenna Bryant.