About Us

Building healthy communities through public health innovation.

The Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI), a division of the Public Health Accreditation Board, serves as the national headquarters for empowering health departments to drive change and improve health. PHNCI:

  • Provides a learning lab for health departments’ innovations
  • Develops and shares resources, tools, education, and expertise
  • Connects innovators within public health and across sectors
  • Monitors, disseminates, and builds the science of public health innovation.

Sharing Ideas. Inspiring Innovation in Public Health.

As public health departments adapt to meet the growing and changing needs of their communities, experts say there is a need for strategic coordination to help incubate and share innovative ideas.

In order to support health departments and make innovation a useful tool rather than a buzzword, PHNCI convened thought leaders in both innovation and public health to develop a definition and characteristics for public health innovation.

PHNCI identifies and fosters innovations in health departments, and collects lessons learned and successes through innovation grantees; publishes The Spark (our blog) and Innovation Stories; and provides resources to guide health departments in developing new or replicating innovations in their communities.

Impact of Our Innovation Work. Reflecting Back, Innovating Forward.

In recognition of PHNCI's five-year anniversary, PHNCI contracted NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct an impact evaluation. View a one pager of our key accomplishments here.

Public Health Accreditation Board and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), established PHNCI to identify, implement, and spread innovations in public health practice to help meet the health challenges of the 21st century in communities nationwide. PHNCI acts as a leader to coordinate and share innovative ideas as communities transform to improve health outcomes.

PHNCI is governed by the PHAB Board of Directors. PHNCI actively engages with innovation experts from other sectors to connect health departments with thought leaders.

To meet the needs of the 21st century, we need innovative public health practices that build on the work of non-health sectors to transform the health of the population. Pamela G. Russo, MD, Senior Program Officer, RWJF

PHNCI’s current body of work includes:

Initiatives range in scope, but often foster learning through peer networks and learning communities, field experts, and community partners to foster innovation in public health.

The FPHS were developed to describe both the foundational infrastructure and program areas that no health department should be without. This body of work is housed at PHNCI and reflects learnings from the 21st Century Learning Community and others in the field. is being expanded upon based on several years of work by 21st century states and others in the field. By implementing the FPHS, health departments can provide public health protections that ensure just opportunities and distribution of resources for all to be healthy. The FPHS framework is made up of foundational capabilities (public health infrastructure) and foundational areas (public health programs) and may include local protections and services unique to a community’s needs. The 21st Century Learning Community is comprised of collaboratives in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington that are using the FPHS as a tool to modernize their public health systems. While the states are at different stages of FPHS implementation, they all aim to demonstrate the value of transforming public health.

The Cross-sector Innovation Initiative, a joint venture between PHNCI and the Center for Sharing Public Health Services, is working to identify and support public health, healthcare, and social services organizations striving to build stronger, sustainable connections to better meet the goals and needs of the people they serve and ultimately improve health equity. A goal of the endeavor is to support, promote and disseminate learning about the role of governmental public health departments in aligning efforts across sectors to improve population health.

As part of CSII, 10 grantees launched projects in early 2020. In addition to work in their communities, grantees participate in a Learning Community comprised of multi-sector partnerships working to on alignment through innovative practices. The partnerships will help the field understand the unique role of governmental public health in alignment and what facilitates and/or impedes cross-sector collaborations.

From September 2020-May 2021, PHNCI is partnering with the de Beaumont Foundation on a new workforce initiative, “Staffing Up: Determining Public Health Workforce Levels Needed to Serve the Nation.” The goal of the initiative is to develop recommendations for staffing levels in the governmental public health system in the United States. Public health experts, including representatives from state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments, federal partners, non-governmental partners, and academia will be engaged on a Steering Committee, Research Advisory Committee, and through field interviews.

Beginning in 2019, PHNCI partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation and a Task Force of leaders in the field on the Futures Initiative: the 10 Essential Public Health Services, a project aimed at bringing the 10 EPHS national framework in line with current and future public health practice. PHNCI engaged with the public health community in a series of activities aimed at building consensus for an updated national framework. The revised 10 Essential Public Health Services launched in September 2020.

All In: Data for Community Health is a learning network of communities that are testing exciting new ways to systematically improve community health outcomes through multisector partnerships working to share data. PHNCI is an All In partner with other national programs/initiatives working in this space. PHNCI's grantees are members of this diverse collaborative network, open to anyone with an interest in multi-sector data sharing to improve community health. PHNCI’s learning communities are comprised of statewide coalitions, health departments, and other agencies implementing the systems transformations and innovations needed to improve public health practice and health equity. Learnings from previously-funded communities (including the Innovation Learning Community and the Universal Community Planning Tool Learning Community) are available on the resources webpage.

PHNCI continues to share successes and challenges in innovation to inspire others to pursue innovative practices and transform public health.