The 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health was founded through a collaborative effort. 1889 Foundation, originally known as the Conemaugh Health Foundation, was the philanthropic arm of the Conemaugh Health System. In September 2014, Conemaugh Health System was sold to Duke LifePoint Healthcare and became a for-profit entity. The Conemaugh Health Foundation was the recipient of funds from that sale and reorganized itself as 1889 Foundation, Inc. in 2015.

Along with the new name came a new mission: 1889 Foundation supports innovative programs and initiatives that improve and transform the overall health and wellness of our region. With that mission firmly in mind, the board of 1889 Foundation soon embarked on a partnership with the Jefferson College of Population Health of the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to create the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health.

On February 26, 2016, a press conference was held to announce the establishment of the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health in Johnstown, made possible by a $7.5 million gift from 1889 Foundation. The Center opened in February 2017.

1889 Foundation was founded in 1993 as the Conemaugh Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Conemaugh Health System. In 2014, when Duke LifePoint Healthcare purchased the Health System it transitioned to for-profit status. Subsequently, the Foundation separated, was renamed 1889 Foundation, Inc. and became a separate independent 501(c)3 organization.

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The Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH) is the first and only school of its kind in the country. Established in 2008, it is part of Thomas Jefferson University, a leading academic health center founded in Philadelphia in 1824 as Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College). The College is dedicated to exploring the policies and forces that define the health and well-being of populations and has partnered with the 1889 Foundation on this innovative rural health model.

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