The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, announced today it has received a $23.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to expand and extend its Healthy Schools Program through 2014. Since 2006, RWJF has awarded the Alliance more than $51 million to transform schools into healthier places, making the Healthy Schools Program the largest single investment of its $500 million commitment to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The Healthy Schools Program helps schools develop and implement policies and practices that promote healthy eating and increase physical activity before, during and after school for students and staff.
President Bill Clinton will celebrate the RWJF renewal grant in a speech this evening at the Healthy Schools Forum at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. The event also will honor 275 schools from across the nation that have transformed their campuses into healthier places and met rigorous healthy school benchmarks established by the program.
“Even though these schools do not have abundant resources, their teachers and staff are dedicated to the health of their students. Every school in America should emulate these educators by making healthy eating and daily exercise a priority,” said President Bill Clinton. “It takes this kind of collaboration between schools, their students, and national partners to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.”
The 275 schools honored at the Healthy Schools Forum hail from more than 30 states, with high numbers of awardees in Miami; Los Angeles; Elizabeth, N.J.; and Prince George’s County, Md. More than half of the schools earning recognition today serve predominantly African-American or Hispanic students, and more than 60 percent are located in lower-income communities. Each school has distinguished itself with healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards set by the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.
“With this grant, the Alliance will be able to reach 30,000 schools, more than a quarter of all elementary and secondary schools in our nation, helping to make them healthier places for 18 million students,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, RWJF president and CEO. “Creating healthier schools is a cornerstone of our efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, and the Healthy Schools Program is building a highly successful model that all schools can use to improve the health of their students and staff.”
Launched in 2006 with 231 schools in 13 states, the Healthy Schools Program now supports more than 12,000 schools across the country to help transform them into healthier places where physical activity and healthier foods are available before, during and after school. Nearly 80 percent of schools participating in the Healthy Schools Program have made measurable progress towards creating a healthier school environment including:
- Fifty percent of Healthy Schools Program schools improved nutritional values of their school meals overall.
- Eighty-five percent of schools in the program meet or exceed the Alliance’s school beverage guidelines.
- Seventy-five percent leave school facilities open for use after school and on the weekends.
- More than 50 percent dedicated at least 20 percent of their after-school program time to physical activity.
- More than 75 percent of elementary schools in the Healthy Schools Program offer at least 20 minutes of recess per day.
“There is growing evidence to support the link between health and school performance. Healthy students learn and perform better at school.” said Alliance Chairman of the Board, David Faxon, M.D. “Students who participate in recommended amounts of physical activity and eat breakfast at school behave better, get better grades and miss less school than their peers.”
“It’s such an encouragement to see that so many school communities have made a strong commitment to create a healthy and successful future generation,” said Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., American Heart Association president. “By creating a learning environment that promotes physical activity and healthy eating, these schools are addressing several of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and stroke and well on their way to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic that currently faces this nation.”
The Healthy Schools Program provides expert training and resources, free of charge, to more than 12,000 schools nationwide to help them improve nutrition and physical activity to help reverse the national childhood obesity epidemic.
“The Healthy Schools Forum provides an opportunity for schools to network with colleagues from around the country and share stories of success,” said Ginny Ehrlich, Alliance CEO. “The Alliance is committed to sharing what works in the schools we honor today with all schools in the country so that every school can be a healthy school.”
Any U.S. school or individual can enroll in the Healthy Schools Program and receive free support to become a healthier place for students to learn and staff to work. Find out more at HealthierGeneration.org.
About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to address one of the nation’s leading public health threats—childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. Founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation, the Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: homes, schools, doctor’s offices and communities.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.