North Side Health Advisory Committee members have been talking about obtaining nonprofit status for several months.

North Side Health Advisory Committee members have been talking about obtaining nonprofit status for several months.

Now they have not only an incentive to do so, but also a fast-approaching deadline.

At last week's monthly meeting, Columbus Public Health management analyst Mathew S. Baldwin, who advises the panel, informed members of a possible grant for which the committee might be eligible, but only if they can become a nonprofit organization, and do so by the filing deadline of Aug. 5.

The grants, for between $5,000 and $10,000, come through the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which is under the Department of Health and Human Services and part of the federal Healthy People 2020 initiative.

Up to 170 projects could receive the one-time funding, according to Baldwin.

"Healthy People is a set of topic areas and objectives with 10-year targets designed to guide national health promotion and disease-prevention efforts to improve the health of people in the United States," according to the application form for the grant money.

"Healthy People 2020 represents the fourth generation of this initiative, building on a foundation of three decades of work. This request for proposal recognizes the lead role that community-based organizations play in improving a community's health. The purpose of this RFP is to solicit community-level projects that use Healthy People 2020 overarching goals, topic areas and objectives to promote improved heath at a community level."

According to the document, the grants are intended "to support activities above and beyond general operations. Using the projects funded through this RFP, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion intends to evaluate how the Healthy People 2020 overarching goals, topic areas and objectives are being used to improve the health of communities."

The document goes on to state that the money will be awarded in the areas of "environmental justice," "health equity" and "healthy behaviors across all life stages."

Baldwin indicated that the health advisory committee, perhaps working in partnership with the Helping Hands Health and Wellness free clinic, North YMCA and even a senior citizens' center, could qualify in that third category.

"You wouldn't have to stretch what we're doing already," committee co-chairman Scott Dowling said.

The subject of the potential grant came up during another round of discussions regarding the process for becoming a nonprofit entity. Co-chairwoman Sandy LaFollette reported that an attorney has been volunteering to steer the group through the process and has even developed articles of incorporation for members to consider. That information should be available very shortly for committee members to review and vote upon, LaFollette said.

"He did a really good job," she said of tax attorney Nate Durst.

After Baldwin brought up the possible Healthy People 2020 funding, committee members decided to forge ahead with seeking nonprofit status and trying for the grant.

"This lends us impetus to get the 501C3 process completed in a timely fashion," Dowling said. "That is a very interesting opportunity for us."

At LaFollette's suggestion, committee members decided to enter into a partnership only with Helping Hands in applying for the grant, although she held out the possibility of including other groups and organizations in whatever project the money might be used to fund.

Applicants for the $5,000 to $10,000 will find out in November if they will receive the money.