Vision and History


Grassroots communities proactively and progressively guiding their health, welfare, and development using partnerships with others when appropriate.


NCBON was established in 2004 by members of the CBPH Caucus of APHA, in collaboration with the Community Health Scholars Program, now known as the Kellogg Health Scholars Program-Community Track. NCBON understands the need and accepts the challenge of representing CBOs, across the United States (and beyond), to encourage and support their growth and development.

It is important that the membership understands and appreciates the colorful history of the NCBON journey and the role that members play in this process. NCBON traces its roots to an earlier Kellogg–funded initiative, Community–Based Public Health. In 1991, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched the Community–Based Public Health Initiative (CBPHI), with the goal of developing partnerships between academic institutions, CBOs, and local health departments. The Foundation's hope was that models of these tripartite partnerships, like a three–legged stool, could demonstrate how academic programs in public health can be strengthened by partnering with community and practice in research and teaching, while at the same time improving the capacity of health departments and communities to address health issues of the communities they serve.

While CBPHI did develop successful partnership models and stimulated the continuous growth and development of community–academic partnerships, the experience of CBPHI also demonstrated the critical need for CBOs to organize collectively to support each other and build capacity within and across partnerships to act with equity and effectiveness alongside academic and institutional partners. CBPHI ended in 1995. In 1999, community and academic partners who had participated in CBPHI sent a request to the APHA Executive Committee for designation as the Community–Based Public Health (CBPH) Caucus. In 2000, CBPH Caucus was officially recognized by APHA (for more on this history visit the Caucus website).

In that same year, the community leaders working within the Caucus began to explore the idea of creating a national presence for communities across the country. The notion grew out of that "soul searching" realization between CBO members of the CBPH Caucus (especially given the relationship between caucuses and APHA) that if their role as community partners was to be fully realized within the Caucus, they needed to be more visible. For them, this meant developing an effective network of CBOs who are part of partnerships or who want to partner with academic and agency/government institutions to carry out research and solve community problems. It was strongly believed that by creating a formal national hub, those community members would have a significant influence as well as an effective voice on issues related to health (broadly defined) on both local and national levels.

In 2001, community members of the Caucus organized a Town Hall meeting at the APHA Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting was to interact with local representatives of CBOs in the community within which the APHA meeting was held. This meeting set precedence for the Caucus of connecting, honoring, and building relationships with the communities we visit. The Town Hall meetings evolved into our annual Community Reception celebrating culture and community held every year during APHA since 2006.

In 2002 and 2003, the Membership Development Working Group of the CBPH Caucus organized annual planning meetings and provided travel scholarships to community leaders within the Caucus to attend the APHA meeting in order to organize a national network of CBOs. During these meetings, community leaders agreed to create a network of organizations and agreed upon a definition of a CBO and operating principles. They also discussed the vision, mission, and goals for the network.

In 2004, NCBON was officially established at the APHA meeting in Washington DC. The environment of NCBON is heavily influenced by the rich cultures of the members associated with the organization. While the NCBON members representing CBOs are categorized as “regular members” and have full privileges within the network (e.g., full voting rights, holding leadership positions, etc), affiliate members (those representing large agencies and institutions or individuals unaffiliated with organizations) have proven to be an invaluable asset to NCBON and its success.

Functioning under the umbrella of the CBPH Caucus, NCBON has carved out a very warm, welcoming, and safe space for participating grassroots community members to share successes and collaborate to defuse challenges that if left unaddressed could possibly stunt the growth within those communities. In addition to the Network's collective growth, individual members are able to engage in capacity–building strategies to improve the bottom lines of their individual organizations and their skills in community–based participatory research.

Significant Historical Dates

  • 2006 — First Community Reception, Boston
  • 2005 — First elected officers of NCBON, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2004 — Official NCBON Meeting, Washington DC
  • 2003 — Second NCBON Planning Meeting, San Francisco, CA
  • 2002 — First NCBON Planning Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2001 — National Town Hall Meeting, Atlanta, GA