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The resources on this page will assist in the process of starting a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or FQHC Look-Alike. The review of these documents will give you a good understanding of how to become a funded grantee.


So You Want to Start a Health Center

A comprehensive guide explaining the details of the FQHC model and includes:

  • Health Center Basics
  • Ensuring Broad Community Support and Investment
  • Needs Assessment and Planning
  • Developing Community Governance
  • Looking for a Home (organizationally and physically)
  • Human Resources
  • Business Planning
  • Before You Open Your Doors: Insurance
  • Information Technology/Data Systems
  • Conclusions and Final Recommendations



New Access Point Grant Application Requirements 

If applying to become a new Health Center, you would most likely apply for funding through a grant application period as this one illustrates. MPCA helps organizations through this process and provides expertise on how to submit a solid application.



Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike Designations

Public and private non-profit health care organizations may apply for FQHC Look-Alike designation (designation without Section 330 funding) at any time. The review process takes about four months. FQHC Look-Alikes must meet the same program requirements as FQHCs that receive Section 330 funding and are eligible for many of the same benefits.


Benefits of being an FQHC Look-Alike:


  • Need at least 6 months of cost reports; audit preferable
  • Must be operational and meeting Look-Alike requirements at time of service
  • May have one provider, but must be able to address needs of the defined service areas

Information on FQHC Look-Alikes guidelines and other policy:



New Start Resources

Creating a Dynamic and Useful Strategic Plan: A Toolkit for Health Centers
Strategic planning is an organization-wide effort to assess key influences, reinforce operating systems, establish objectives, and mobilize staff and other stakeholders to meet the challenges of a changing environment. This toolkit will walk you through five sections of a key strategic plan.

Commonly Used Acronyms in the Healthcare Industry
There are many acronyms used in the health care industry. This useful table will help you as you run into abbreviated organizations and names.


Policy Information Notice 2014-1: Health Center Program Governance
This requires that all organizations which receive Health Center funding under Section 330 have a governing body which assumes full authority and oversight responsibility for the Health Center.


Governing Board Handbook
A useful handbook to have on hand when creating your governing board.


Prospective Health Center Checklist

Presents questions that need to be answered for a site to go forward with an application for funding.


New Start Checklist
This document is intended for an FQHC that is newly funded. It helps outline some of the next steps after funding and can help give you an idea of what to keep in mind for the future.


Health Center Benefits
HRSA website that explains the benefits to the community if a Health Center were to start, as well as explain the benefits to the health care facility thinking of becoming a Health Center.


Service Area Competition Resources


A Service Area Competition (SAC) application is a request for Federal financial assistance to support comprehensive primary health care services for a competitively announced underserved area or population. All available service areas are currently served by Health Center Program grantees.


Service Area Comptetition (SAC) Technical Assistance
A technical assistance guide for navigating the Service Area Comepetition (SAC) process through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).


Service Area Competition - Additional Area (SAC-AA) Technical Assistance
HRSA guide for when a Service Area Competition–Additional Area (SAC-AA) is announced after new service areas have become available for competition after the annual fiscal year (FY) SAC announcement.



MPCA Resources

FQHC Analysis Tool
In partnership with Holton Healthcare Consulting, MPCA developed an analysis tool for organizations considering becoming a Health Center (and existing Centers considering expansion). The tool provides a consistent, tested format for examining the readiness for and financial viability of Health Center development. The tool has two parts (Part I, Part II) as well as a set of instructions on how to complete the tool. Additionally, MPCA hosted a webinar that provided a detailed overview of the tool, how to use it and how to interpret results. An archived version of the webinar is available here.

Health Center Fact Sheet


Michigan Health Center Coverage Map


Data and Statistics Webpage

Provides sources for health data at the national, state, and county level. Much of this data is used in the application to become an FQHC.

Grant Writing, Strategic Planning & Interim CEO Consultants

List of potential grant writers, strategic planning consultants, and interim CEOs who have been used by Michigan Health Centers. It is not encompassing of consultants and does not serve as an endorsement of the services of these consultants.


Comparison of Federally Qualified Health Center and Rural Health Clinic

Summary comparison of the Rural Health Clinic and Federally Qualified Health Center Programs which details important differences.


What Does Your Community Look Like and How is it Changing? Where You Can Find Data to Support Your Local Work
2013 | PDF | Source: Kate Martin, KMartin Works
This session will provide an overview of available public data to help you answer these questions, and it will provide an analysis of recent trends in demographics related to health care indicators in Michigan. From the material presented, you can also learn how to use this data in your specific community to identify trends that will impact service demand, improve service delivery, and assist your success in improving health outcomes locally.
Presented at the 2013 MPCA Annual Conference



HRSA Resources

The Bureau of Primary Health Care is the federal branch that oversees the Health Center Program. What is a Health Center? gives a basic introduction to the Health Center Program.

Policy Information Notices & Program Assistance Letters

HRSA publishes Policy Information Notices (PIN) and Program Assistance Letters (PAL) clarifying policy for FQHCs.


Open Opportunities: Displays current FQHC grant opportunities and where future opportunities will be announced.


How to Subscribe for Grant Notifications:

  • Select Category of Funding Activity: Health
  • Select Funding Instrument Type: All
  • Select Agency: Health and Human Services (click button that says "Select Sub Agencies")
  • Select Sub Agency: Health Resources & Services Administration
  • Then click "subscribe to Mailing List"

How to Apply for a Grant:

  • Get registered at at least 2 months before you plan to submit an application
  • Register with HRSA Electronic Handbooks for Applicants/Grantees at least 2 months before you plan to submit an application
  • Read the Electronic Submission User Guide
  • Read/Watch Creating Good HRSA Grant Applications focusing on underserved populations technical assistance presentations from HRSA application workshops

Technical Assistance

HRSA has a technical assistance website that provide details on Health Center development, services, finance, and governance.

Training Opportunities

Training opportunities are updated on a regular basis at HRSA's website.



National Association of Community Health Centers Resources

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), organized in 1971, is the national voice for Health Centers, and networks with state Health Centers and Primary Care Associations to serve Health Centers through research, education, training, technical assistance, advocacy, and developing alliances and partnerships. They have many effective resources and tools for learning about Health Centers, such as:

Training Opportunities

NACHC hosts trainings and conferences on a regular basis, such as:

Developing Effective Federally Qualified Health Centers: A three-day intensive training that is helpful for new organizations applying to become an FQHC. Learn how to logically develop your program model by starting with a comprehensive needs assessment through developing health and business plans and budgets. This training is designed for organizations and communities that want to start an FQHC or are interested in FQHC-Look Alike designation. It also serves as an orientation for those new to the Health Center Program and a refresher for existing staff.


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