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Healthy Communities/Healthy America

Free Clinic Grants Helping the Uninsured

Representatives from the 2014 Healthy Communities Healthy America free clinics participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program in Chicago.

In response to the growing health needs of the uninsured, hundreds of communities nationwide have developed free clinics. These non-profit clinics bring together physicians, health care professionals and other community volunteers to offer free or low-cost health care to low-income, uninsured and under-insured people. Funding is generally raised on the local level, and there is little if any government funding or support.

A recent AmeriCares survey found that 89% of the nation's free clinics reported a steady rise in patient visits within the past 3 years, and that increased demand and resource constraints have forced 56% of these clinics to turn away eligible patients.

Responding to this critical need, the AMA Foundation supports the efforts of physicians and other volunteers working at free clinics to provide quality, affordable health care. The program awards $10,000-$25,000 grants to physician-led free clinics. To date, we have awarded over $1.3 million to 61 free clinics across the country.

In 2015, the AMA Foundation will provide 2-year grants of $10,000 to clinics to implement the CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Prediabetes is a preventable health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Estimates show that 79 million people in the United States have prediabetes, but less than 10% are aware of their condition. The goal of this program is to increase the identification of prediabetes among free clinic patients and improve their health-related outcomes.

The Legal and Operational Guide for Free Medical Clinics is available for free download. Created by the AMA Foundation and the American Health Lawyers Association in collaboration with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the guide addresses obstacles such as credentialing, insurance, patient privacy, staff safety, and tax-exemption. Find out more about the guide.

Grant cycle

This grant cycle has passed. Please check back on our website in August for the 2016 Healthy Communitites/Healthy America application.

Eligibility requirements

  1. Meet the National Association of Free Clinics definition of a free clinic.
    “Free clinics are volunteer-based, safety-net health care organizations that provide a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals who are predominately uninsured. Free clinics are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, or operate as a program component or affiliate of a 501(c)(3) organization. Entities that otherwise meet the above definition, but charge a nominal fee to patients, may still be considered free clinics provided essential services are delivered regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.”
  2. Currently have 501(c)(3) status and have held that status for at least three years at the time of application.
  3. Provide essential services to patients regardless of their ability to pay.
  4. Provide at least 20 or more hours of medical care a week(defined as physicians providing direct patient care).
  5. Not have received an AMA Foundation Healthy Communities/Healthy America grant in the past.
  6. Ensure that the project is led by a physician.
  7. Have electronic medical record (EMR) or other practice software to allow for reporting.

Recipient information

List of 2015 recipients

List of 2014 recipients

List of 2013 recipients

List of 2012 recipients

List of 2011 recipients

List of 2010 recipients

List of 2008 recipients

List of 2007 recipients


Grant outcomes
Read about key results from these grant projects

Program Impact
This program facilitates sustainability and additional funding for recipients.  Fifty-four percent of free clinics state they were able to obtain grants and contributions from new funders as a direct result of having received a Healthy Communities/Healthy America grant.  An additional 12% report that the grant boosted their visibility in their communities and stimulated interest from other donors due to the AMA Foundation name.

In the news
Learn how our recipients are caring for those who have nowhere else to go:

In their own words

Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic

"This grant gave us the opportunity to move an entire community to open a free clinic. We have worked collaboratively with a whole new group of physicians and two other hospitals to make this happen. This is an entirely volunteer model, similar to our clinic."
—Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic, Doylestown, Pa.
2007 recipient

Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of Bartholomew County

"It has truly been a privilege for our clinic to have participated in the AMA Foundation's program. Your grant has facilitated our clinic's ability to implement the Chronic Care Model to improve the health of our patients with diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia."
—Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of Bartholomew County, Columbus, Ind.
2007 recipient

Open Door Health Center

"This grant gave us the opportunity to feel recognized and supported by our peers and created opportunities to expand our collaboration model and promotion beyond this small poor community...it reinforced our motto: 'Medicine for the poor does not have to be poor medicine.'"
—Open Door Health Center, Homestead, Fla.
2008 recipient

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David A. Ellington, MD

"Our free clinic was started in 1994 and has been functioning ever since rural western Virginia. We continue to struggle with trying to meet the ever increasing needs of our community.  The response of the physician community is a shining example of what our profession does on a volunteer basis for the segments of our population who fall through the health care cracks.  Thank you for all that you do for this effort.  Without the work that you and others do on our behalf, the work of all Free Clinics would be much difficult."
—David A. Ellington, MD
Medical Director and Board Member, Rockbridge Area Free Clinic, Lexington, VA
Donor to the AMA Foundation free clinic grant program


Edmond Cabbabe, MD

"Donating to support physician-led free clinics is our way of expressing gratitude to the great physicians who staff these clinics and provide compassionate care to the most vulnerable and needy patients."
—Edmond Cabbabe, MD


"I have nothing but admiration for our fellow physicians who donate time and expertise to provide health care, receiving little or no reimbursement, for uninsured populations.  Having been out of clinical practice for several years, I feel that the financial support that I give is the least I can do to support these facilities.  They truly represent the best of medicine."
—Richert E. Quinn MD, Greeley, Colo.
Physician Risk Manager, COPIC Insurance Company
Member, AMA House of Delegates for over 20 years


The Healthy Communities/Healthy America program is one of the few national funding opportunities devoted solely to free clinics.  We could not offer these grants without generous support from organizations and individuals.  Help us continue our commitment to free clinics and physician volunteers by making a gift to Healthy Communities/Healthy America.

Donate now

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