Campaign Will Invest in Six Communities Pursuing Solutions to Create Healthy Schools Where Students Feel Safe, Supported, And Empowered
Washington, D.C. – America’s Promise Alliance, the nation's largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, today announced the launch of the ‘Every School Healthy’ campaign to create healthy and safe schools where all young people can thrive.
Driven by the belief that every student deserves a healthy school that advances their education and promotes their social, emotional, physical, and mental health, the campaign is investing $1.8 million in six communities to accelerate progress of innovative solutions that create learning environments where students can thrive. Set against a backdrop of increased student activism where students are speaking out about the challenges they face, the campaign will help accelerate on-the-ground efforts to support the social emotional needs of youth. Not meeting the social and emotional needs of youth is emerging as an identifiable barrier to academic success.
To raise awareness and spark action, Every School Healthy will also engage partner organizations and individuals to tell the stories of schools and communities working to create healthy schools. The campaign will not only highlight collaborative successes and solutions, but also amplify the voices of young people working within their schools and communities to transform them into spaces where youth can truly thrive. Through these efforts, the campaign will provide proof points and motivation to inspire more people to take action to create healthy schools in their community.
“The research is overwhelming on the connections between health, education, and youth development,” said John Gomperts, President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “By paying close attention to students’ social and emotional well-being in addition to their physical well-being, schools will see the better educational outcomes they seek and prepare students to lead longer, more fulfilling lives.”
A Critical Moment for Student Success
As new research brings into focus the rippling hardships many young people experience and the increased urgency to support their healthy development, the campaign comes at a crucial moment. Key findings from this research include:
- Youth of color are at increased risk for poor health outcomes due to a lack of access to the social supports, opportunities, and experiences essential for healthy development, according to a report (Barriers to Wellness) by The Center for Promise, America’s Promise research institute.
- Students are increasingly absorbing stress and anxiety experienced by teachers, as more professional development and support is needed to prevent a trickle-down effect impacting students, according to a recent report (Creating Policies to Support Healthy Schools) by Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization and America’s Promise partner.
“Every child deserves to be in a school that promotes their well-being and allows them to be at their best," said Jennifer M. Ng'andu, Interim Managing Director-Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Sadly, this is not the reality for too many kids in America. All of us have a role to play—from families and businesses to young people themselves—in creating supportive schools that allow every child to grow, thrive, and meet the challenges of the world around them."
Supporting Innovative Solutions at the Community Level
Communities across the country are already leading on-the-ground efforts to make schools places where youth can thrive. Every School Healthy will support several of those communities, funding acceleration work in six communities (in five states) already engaged in cross-sector efforts to create healthy schools. Each acceleration site represents what is possible when organizations and schools come together to collaborate on addressing challenges standing in the way of creating healthier schools. These six sites were selected through a competitive process from a pool that included more than 145 communities from 20 states across the country, and include:
- Adelante Mujeres (Forest Grove, OR)—Adelante Mujeres provides holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low-income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. One of their key programs is the Chicas Youth Development Program, which provides girls ranging from third to 12th grade the opportunity to participate in weekly afterschool sessions that develop their leadership potential, build strong cultural identity, and foster healthy lifestyles and academic success. They carry out this program by partnering with local public schools and working with more than 500 local families each year.
- Alive and Well Communities (St. Louis, MO)—Alive and Well Communities is a nonprofit organization that is focused on activating communities to address the trauma experienced by residents and develop pathways to healing, well-being, and equity. They believe that the impacts of trauma prevent schools from being an environment that supports health and well-being for students and staff alike. The work of Alive and Well Communities is led by community members and works to promote trauma-informed practices at an institutional, community, and national level.
- Better Together Central Oregon (Crook County, OR)—Better Together Central Oregon and six key community organizations are partnering with Crook County School District in a comprehensive effort to create healthier students and staff and build a Culture of Care in schools and across the community. At its core, the model includes whole school development through staff engagement in trauma-informed practices, increased capacity in schools for mental health support, and amplifying youth and community voice in a movement to de-stigmatization mental illness and increase positive interactions between students and the adults they encounter in schools.
- FIT2gether (Cherokee County, SC)—Cherokee County School District has launched FIT2gether, a student-driven initiative designed to catalyze a culture of health through empowerment and collective action. FIT2gether has three components that each focus on a different population: FIT2Learn (students), FIT2Serve (staff), and FIT2Prosper (community). With student-led teams at each school in the district, young people will identify barriers to health and well-being and design solutions to make healthier school environments and communities for all.
- Partnership for Child Health (Jacksonville, FL)—Partnership for Child Health is working with the schools and broader community in Health Zone 1, known as Jacksonville’s Urban Core, to integrate trauma-informed and child rights-based approaches to advance whole child health. This effort will be fully integrated into existing initiatives aimed at improving the health and well-being of students in Health Zone 1 that include the Wolfson Children’s School Based Health Center and Full Service School program.
- Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (Staten Island, NY)— Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness is partnering with North Shore schools and community partners to empower young people, parents, and faculty to advocate for healthy schools. The approach puts young people in the lead—encouraging them to identify health disparities in the schools and community, develop site-specific suggestions, and forge positive change through authentic dialogue and strong partnerships.
America’s Promise Alliance is leading the Every School Healthy campaign in partnership with ChildObesity180, Communities In Schools, FoodCorps, National Association of Community Health Centers, and Turnaround for Children. The Every School Healthy campaign is a part of Together for Healthy and Successful Schools, a collaborative initiative working to advance the vision that all schools support education and health. Together for Healthy and Successful Schools is comprised of America’s Promise Alliance, Child Trends, and Healthy Equity Works at Washington University in St. Louis, and it is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
For more information about Every School Healthy, please visit our website at EverySchoolHealthy.org.
America’s Promise Alliance leads more than 450 organizations, communities, and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. For more information, visit www.AmericasPromise.org.