Wake County Healthy Community Grant

In the summer of 2014, John Rex Endowment began the first effort of its kind in Wake County, NC, driven by the belief that municipal governments play an important role in creating healthy and equitable places. The Wake County Healthy Community (WCHC) grant supported municipalities and their partners to improve policies and implement environmental changes to increase access to healthy food and active living opportunities, particularly for vulnerable children and families. Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh, and Zebulon received funding and technical assistance to support their success.

In 2017, WCHC’s final year, Healthy Places by Design (then Active Living By Design) continued to provide one-on-one coaching and technical assistance to each municipality and convene the funded sites as part of an ongoing peer learning network. Our team led collaborative learning and exchange sessions that featured: practical health equity strategies for municipalities; sustaining farmers’ markets for greater healthy food access; and highlighting best practices from the six municipalities. A summary evaluation conducted by Healthy Places by Design indicated that the three-year WCHC grant initiative increased municipal governments’ effectiveness, created new policies and official planning documents, and enhanced built environments to support the health of Wake County children and families.


  • Conducted a formative assessment, through key stakeholder interviews and focus groups, to identify factors impacting healthy eating and active living in Wake County children.
  • Created healthy weight goals, strategies, and program design that align with the John Rex Endowment’s mission and five-year plan.
  • Currently implementing new grant program and providing technical assistance.

Funding Partner: John Rex Endowment

Engagement: 2013–2018

Services Provided:

  • Strategic planning
  • Grant program design
  • Tool and resource sharing
  • Coaching and technical assistance
  • Assessment and evaluation
“Healthy Places by Design’s team sees the big picture and the needed details. They right-fit and right-size their focus and know when it’s best to address vision, purpose, strategy, or logistics. That’s a tremendous asset.”

Kate Shirah, Program Director
John Rex Endowment