Who We Serve

In and of the community - Community Health Centers empower patients and communities to become active agents in their health care and well-being.
outline of wisconsin with three icons representing mental health, dental services and medical services


Community Health Centers are community-based, patient-centered organizations working to improve the health of patients and communities facing financial, cultural and linguistic, or geographical barriers to receiving high-quality affordable health care. What makes Community Health Centers unique is their model of integrated care, bringing together medical, dental, behavioral health, and other essential services based on the needs of their community.

Also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Community Health Centers receive their federal designation by meeting specific administrative, clinical, and financial requirements. Community Health Centers with Look-Alike designations meet the requirements of the Health Center Program, but they do not receive Health Center Program (330) grant funding. Community Health Centers support the system of care for historically under-resourced populations by providing comprehensive and holistic health care services to all patients, regardless of income, insurance or immigration status, or ability to pay. Community Health Centers are clinics of choice that empower patients to actively engage in their health care, future, and well-being.

Community Health Centers: Then & Now  

Based on a community-based health care model originating in South Africa, Community Health Centers emerged from  the efforts of health care pioneers and civil rights activists in the mid-1960s. Funding for the first “Neighborhood Health Centers” (as they were then called) began as part of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty and signaled the launch of the Community Health Centers Program. 

In the 1970s, Community Health Centers in Wisconsin began with networks of clinics spanning from rural northeastern Wisconsin into urban Milwaukee, along with unique programs like La Clinica de los Campesinos serving farmworkers across the state. Today, Wisconsin’s 19 Community Health Centers serve nearly 270,000 patients at over 200 sites. Community Health Center staff are mission-minded and dedicated to ensuring patients receive high quality, cost-effective health care that meets their needs, beliefs, and lifestyles.


How to Establish a Community Health Center

The Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA) provides communities with support and technical assistance throughout the process to explore and establish a federally funded Community Health Center. Communities interested in starting an FQHC can utilize this decision tree to determine which option best suits their situation and community needs. Other technical assistance may include: 

  • Identification of health care access needs
  • Identification of different primary health care access models and their requirements
  • Identification and connection to potential collaborators
  • Step by step checklist toward completing a Community Health Center grant application
  • Orientation and training of Health Center board members

To learn more, contact Aleks or Carly. You can also download our Community Development Checklist.

outline of wisconsin with three icons representing mental health, dental services and medical services

Interested in starting a community health center?

Contact us for assistance.