Our History

The Health Project has a history of developing health improvement strategies and programs for Muskegon County and surrounding areas. Initially established as a result of a partnership grant between the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Project is one of the oldest and most successful community-based collaborative networks of its type in the nation.

In this capacity, the Health Project has worked with community health organizations and individuals to pioneer some of the most innovative solutions to health access problems in the nation. The Health Project’s efforts to create affordable health coverage, resulting in the Access Health plan, have been replicated in several states. Our community programs to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics, expand dental care, manage diabetes, and help returning prisoners with health needs are among several that have received noteworthy praise from outside the community.

In its independent evaluation of the Health Project, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation evaluators termed the Health Project “an unqualified success”. Our staff has served as faculty for the National Association of Counties, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Michigan Department of Corrections, and Communities Joined in Action. The Health Project staff routinely provides technical assistance to communities across the nation who are interested in community-driven decision-making around health. Staff has worked with communities in no fewer than 35 of the 50 states—either through telephone-based coaching or on-site presentations.

Programs created by the Project have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Health Affairs, Forbes Small Business, and many other national publications. In addition, our staff has presented testimony to a variety of national policy bodies, including the U.S. House Small Business Committee; the GAO sponsored Citizens Advisory Committee on Health; and numerous State Legislative bodies.

In 2009, the Health Project was acquired by Mercy Health Muskegon after nearly 16 years of serving the community as a stand-alone non-profit organization. The new affiliation with Mercy Health Muskegon enhances the Health Project’s ability to fill its historic commitment to improving the health of the community. In the new partnership, the Health Project coordinates Community Benefit programming to strategically ensure our limited community health resources are most effectively put to use to improve the quality of life in our community. In this capacity, the Health Project oversees our local Community Health Needs Assessment process and works to document programming and expenditures in accordance with new Community Benefit standards for hospitals.