UNCW Receives Funding to Support Regional COVID-19 Relief for Vulnerable Populations

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Center for Healthy Communities, part of UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services, has received a $330,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in southeastern North Carolina.

The funding is designated for local health departments in Robeson, Bladen, and Columbus counties to enhance their capacity for adapting to the emerging needs of COVID-19 response in vulnerable populations. The grant will be used over a one-year period to support increased testing and vaccinations, supplies and community outreach to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
“The continued support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust reaffirms their commitment to the College of Health and Human Services in pursuing our joint mission to meet critical needs in rural communities and help improve the lives of all individuals – particularly vulnerable populations – disproportionally affected by the pandemic,” said Charles Hardy, CHHS dean.
The Center for Healthy Communities and county health departments have partnered with community-based organizations in each county to increase testing opportunities for low-income and historically marginalized populations. This work includes a social marketing campaign designed to increase awareness of COVID-19 and improve understanding of related perceptions and potential barriers to following preventive measures in the three counties. 

“This funding has allowed our health department to have a position that focuses specifically on these goals,” said Jan Lowery, MPH, Robeson County Health. “The person in this position also participates in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services committee that addresses COVID-19 problems, solutions and health education messages for this targeted population weekly.”

Founded in 2013 within UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services, the Center for Healthy Communities fosters collaborations that address community-identified issues of interest to improve the health and well-being of communities in southeastern North Carolina. The CHC connects faculty, staff and students with community agencies to provide services in community collaborative support, community health and human services assessment and program evaluation, and applied scholarship and learning. 

CHHS was established in 2010 to make a positive impact on the health and quality of life of residents in the state of North Carolina and beyond. The college consists of three professional schools – the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the School of Social Work – whose excellence in teaching, scholarship and service help individuals, families and communities live healthier, more prosperous and empowered lives. 

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. The trust’s mission is to improve the health and quality of life of financially disadvantaged residents in North Carolina. The Health Improvement in North Carolina program area supports community-wide health solutions across the state. Local Impact in Forsyth County program area fosters equitable and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life in Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as sole trustee.

To learn more about this initiative, contact Leah Mayo, coordinator for the Center for Healthy Communities, at or Megan Toothman, project coordinator, at