The National Turning Point Program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, was influential in the formation of NNPHI. Turning Point increased capacity of the public health system to respond to emerging challenges in public health, specifically the system's capacity to work with people from many sectors to improve the health status of all people in a community. Public health institutes are one component of the public health infrastructure that have continued Turning Point's mission. Another driver for the formation of NNPHI was a National Public Health Leadership Institute project paper entitled: "The Potential of America’s Public Health Institutes: Recommendations for Strengthening and Using Their Capacity" (authored by Donna Strugar-Fritsch of the Michigan Public Health Institute, 2000).
The timeline below highlights major developments since NNPHI's formal incorporation in 2001.