Western North Carolina has a history of story telling: passing on traditions and knowledge from one generation to another. A region rich in farming, folk traditions, arts and music, and outdoor living has much to offer its residents. A bounty of opportunities for healthy eating, active living, and living in a tobacco free environment exists, and can be embraced. At MountainWise, we believe this is the key to a healthy community. By honoring traditions and embracing the natural resources of the mountains, we can make the healthy choice the easy choice and strengthen the health of all communities in Western North Carolina.


Basic Info about MountainWise:

MountainWise works in partnership with the eight westernmost county health departments in a predominately rural region in the North Carolina mountains. MountainWise is a government organization funded through federal, state, and local grants and is facilitated through Macon County Public Health.

MountainWise focuses on three major strategies; environmental strategies to promote health and support healthful behaviors specifically relating to healthy eating and active living, health system interventions that target at-risk populations and promote healthy behaviors to improve quality of health care delivery, strategies to build support for healthy lifestyles through lifestyle change programs, and promoting community-clinical linkages that bridge community prevention efforts with health care systems.

Since 2011, MountainWise has worked with community partners in Region 1 to adopt smoke-free policies for public places, parks, and government grounds, strengthened healthy food access through local convenient stores and farmers markets, created an 8 county Health Impact Assessment to prioritize for health in future planning, and continues to act as a resource in their region today. Most recently funding for MountainWise was received through the CDC Obesity Diabetes Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Funding awarded to the North Carolina Department of Public Health. This funding focuses more directly on promoting health through worksites and faith organizations to support implementation of comprehensive worksite wellness programs and training faith leaders facilitate the Faithful Families Eating Smart Moving More Program within their congregations. The work through this grant also involves working with health care systems to refer and promote community preventative resources to patients who are at high risk for diabetes and/or hypertension in order to ensure they receive the services and care they need to live a healthy life free of Chronic Disease. MountainWise is sustained through grant funding and seeks additional grants that will support their region in making the healthy choice the easy choice.

MountainWise believes that by working with community leaders, public and private organizations,  and through innovative partnerships, we can make the healthy choice the easy choice where we live, learn, work, play, and pray.


Type of Organization Government Organization
Website Mountainwise.org
Primary Contact

Sarah Tennyson, MPH

Regional Project Coordinator

[email protected]

Social Media



Issues of Focus:

MountainWise focuses on strengthening population health through community interventions at the policy, systems, and environmental change level. MountainWise strives to act as a resource to the region in which they work to their local government and community organizations by providing tool-kits, environmental supports, evidence based interventions, and tools for creating healthier communities that make the healthy choice the easy choice and prevent Chronic Disease for all populations no matter where one lives. Issues of major focus are food access, access to physical activity and tobacco-free places, and community clinical linkages to prevent chronic disease.

History of Organization:

Established in 2011 through the North Carolina CTG Project, MountainWise is the eight westernmost counties that make up Public Health Region 1. MountainWise came out of a rebranding process that changed their name from “Community Transformation Grant’ to what we now know as MountainWise in order to more effectively communicate grant goals of the CTG Project. This was an extensive process that involved regional data collection through surveys and focus groups to create a branding campaign that truly resonated with the region.

The region was sub-awarded grant funding from the North Carolina Department of Public Health. A regional project coordinator along with three on the grounds Intervention Leads who work in assigned counties, were hired through the grant. MountainWise sustained the work they were doing through CTG after the project funds were cut from the federal budget through a local grant from the Community Foundation of WNC for healthy corner store work. Staff were sustained from November 2014- April 2015 with support from CFWNC and the local health departments. In April 2015, MountainWise was once again funded by the DPH to implement the ODHDSP grant in Region 1. This is a four year grant with similar strategies to the CTG Project. 

Programs and Projects


  • MountainMarkets: Healthy corner store project, increasing healthy food access through pricing, promotion, signage, placement, etc. in local convenient and small retail stores.
  • Tobacco Prevention & Control
  • MountainElements Health Impact Assessment: Merges the conversations about planning and health to identify policies, plans, programs and projects that create a healthier region, one that builds capacity through counties and towns. Developed an 8 County Health Impact Assessment complete with hot spot mapping of poor health in each county in Region 1. 
  • MountainStrong: Through body, mind, and spirit. A Faith Based Initiative: Goal of this project is to Increase the number of faith based organizations that open up their facilities to community use for physical activity to ensure everyone has a safe place to play no matter where they live. This project also works to enroll faith based organizations into the Faithful Families Eating Smart Moving More Program to promote health within their congregations.
  • Worksite Wellness Consulting
  • Mountain Connections: Connecting health care organizations with community preventative resources in order to promote and manage lifestyle changes and chronic disease. Working with physicians to flag patients who are at risk for diabetes and hypertension and ensure they are being referred to these community resources and prevention programs to prevent development of disease.
  • WiseBucks Nutrition Incentive Project: SNAP Nutrition incentive project at the Haywood County Farmers Markets that provides SNAP customers who shop at the market with their SNAP card free $10 in WiseBucks to spend on produce. Program began in June  2015 and will go on until funds last

Partners and Frequent Collaborators

Health Departments- Health educators/ Health Directors

Community Coalitions

Cooperative Extension

Local faith organizations

Local food pantries

MANNA Food Bank

Senior Resource Centers

Food Policy Council

Private Businesses

Department of Agriculture

Farmers Markets


Youth Empowered Solutions

Chamber of Commerce

Department of Agriculture

Health Care Organizations

Community Health Centers

Future Developments for This Wiki

Integrate pages from https://localwiki.org/franklinnc/MountainWise, then delete the Franklin-level page.