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Program and Research Support

Funding for community health worker (CHW) programs and research is available from a variety of foundations, organizations, and federal agencies. CHW programs receive financial support through federal or state grants, foundations, or third-party reimbursement for CHW services. Many states have foundations, insurance companies, and other entities that may provide funding support for CHW programs.

Several rural communities have explored third-party reimbursement for CHW's health education services through Medicaid. Some states have expressed concern third party reimbursement would necessitate rigorous credentialing of CHWs.

For a list of current CHW funding opportunities, see the RHIhub Online Library Funding by Topic: Community Health Workers. For information on other funders, see Funders of Rural Programs in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Below are several examples of national entities that have previously funded CHW programs and research.

Federal Agencies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC has been involved in a variety of CHW projects focusing on diabetes health promotion, including a promotoras project, diabetes education for CHWs in the Indian Health Service, and diabetes prevention and control programs involving CHWs in rural and urban communities.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
In 2010, CMS' Hispanic Health Services Research Grant Program funded research on Hispanic Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP health disparities. This program also supported promotora activities in the past. Many states have also used grant funding from the State Innovation Model (SIM) Initiative to explore sustainable financing and develop and expand CHW programs.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Several HRSA divisions and programs have offered funding for CHW programs and initiatives. Funding opportunities have been made available through the Bureau of Health Workforce through the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program, Bureau of Primary Health Care, HIV/AIDS Bureau, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).

Indian Health Service
Since 1968, IHS has trained Community Health Representatives to serve tribal populations in several states and provides program management through area CHR offices located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHIBI)
Provides international leadership in research, training and education to prevent heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders. In 2008 the NHIBI, NIH, and CDC funded a study exploring the use of a community health advisor to reduce cardiovascular risk among rural African American women.


Aetna Foundation
In 2009, the Aetna Foundation awarded community health grants for philanthropic initiatives focusing on delivering health education and/or increasing access to healthcare using Promotoras.

Annie E. Casey Foundation
In 1998, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the University of Arizona funded the National Community Health Advisor Study, which reached 400 CHWs across the country to identify core roles and competencies.

California HealthCare Foundation
In 2010, CHCF began building a statewide network of CHWs facilitating the exchange of information about outreach and service delivery strategies, local and statewide issues, lessons learned and best practices. Through this initiative, six regional collaboratives are charged with developing regional action plans.

Kaiser Permanente
In the northern California area, Kaiser Permanente's Fresno-Community Benefits Program conducts a community needs assessment every three years to identify priority health issues for vulnerable populations. They have funded promotora activities in the past. In southern California, Kaiser Permanente San Diego conducted a pilot where CHWs helped expand and improve care to frail elders with dementia.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
In 2004 and 2009, RWJF provided support to promote the role of CHWs in Minnesota through the RWJF Local Funding Partnerships program.

Susan G. Komen Foundation
Through state affiliate organizations, the Susan G. Komen Foundation provides grant funding for local community health programs designed to address needs related to breast cancer.

Through the United Health Foundation, UnitedHealthcare has funded organizations to train, manage, and implement CHW programs addressing the health needs in local communities. The Foundation also supports innovative and evidence-based strategies that improve patient care.