So You Want To Become a Health Center?

Where should you begin?

What is a Community Health Center?

Community Health Centers or CHCs are non-profit medical clinics located throughout Arizona. They share a mission of making comprehensive primary care accessible to anyone regardless of insurance status.

Community Health Centers (CHCs) represent a vital source of primary care for individuals nationwide. Health centers provide prevention, treatment, and disease management delivered in family-centered, patient-governed medical homes using the most advanced care practices.

Basic Health Center Criteria include:

  • Be a not-for-profit organization
  • Be located in a medically underserved area (MUA) or serve a medically underserved population (MUP)
  • Be governed by a community-based board of directors consisting of at least 51% patients
  • Provide comprehensive primary health care services either on-site or through referral; and
  • Provide services to all persons regardless of their ability to pay, using a Sliding Fee Discount Program based solely on income and family size

Please explore the information provided here to learn more about health centers and if this is a good fit for your organization or contact Lisa Nieri at











Health Center definitions

What is the right health center term to use? FQHC? Look-Alike? Community Health Center?

So You Want to be a Health Center Guide prepared by the National Association of Community Health Centers (updated 2015)

Health Center Program Requirements – Compliance Manual

Federal 330 legislation that health centers are required to follow and are funded under

Conduct a needs assessment

Talk to the Primary Care Office (Arizona Department of Health Services – ADHS) for help determining your Health Professional Shortage Area score and if the population you are looking to serve is in a medically underserved area (MUA) or a medically underserved population (MUP): Tracy Lenartz –

Map out the population you are looking to serve – both demographically and geographically – with the UDS Mapper (directions on how to sign up). Learn how to use the UDS Mapper with webinars offered on an ongoing basis or check out this comprehensive written guide.

Talk to existing health centers and other healthcare providers in the area.

Every applicant organization must complete three free registrations (DUNS, SAM, to be able to submit a grant application. The process can take one month or longer.  Please visit HRSA’s “Register and Get Ready” page at least four weeks before your submission deadline.

Federal grants can be excellent funding opportunities for your project, but not understanding the process can lead to a great deal of frustration. This HRSA video series will debunk common myths and assist you with your grant applications.

Take a look at this comparison between Health Center Program Grantees and Look-Alikes:



Look-Alike Initial Designation Technical Assistance
*Please note: Look-Alike applications can be filed at any time. You do not need to wait until grant opportunities are available.

Please feel free to contact AACHC at any point during the process if you have any questions –