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Healthy School Environments Action Learning Collaborative
Funding Alert!
OMHRC to award five, one-year awards of $5,000 to schools that promote student wellness through adoption of the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.
Application Deadline: October 13, 2011, 5:00 p.m. E.S.T.
Request for Proposals
Action Learning Collaborative

In order to address the issue of healthy school meals and healthy school environments as a whole, it is obvious that we need a comprehensive, holistic approach, particularly in times of financial limitations. The same way that just more money won't be the answer, just involving the usual suspects won't solve the problem. We can take heed from First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign that targets obesity and its related ill effects in children by focusing on all the factors that contribute to it.

Creating healthy learning environments will require public-private partnerships, parental engagement, policy development and changes, and more. It will have to be a dual process that goes from the bottom up - by implementing changes at the local and even at the individual school level - and from the top down by working on the implementation of policies that promote healthy school meals and environments.

The Office of Minority Health devoted National Minority Health Month, April 2011, to the issue of healthy school food, and in that context launched an Action Learning Collaborative (ALC) with the long term goal of improving schools' food offerings and school environments for all children, and in particular for minority and underserved populations. The ALC ultimate goal is to help school districts and individual schools to implement needed changes that would help them meet the criteria to apply for the USDA Healthier US School Challenge.

What is an Action Learning Collaborative?

An Action Learning Collaborative (ALC) brings together interdisciplinary teams who are working to improve a process, practice, or system. These teams use improvement science to guide their work toward a shared aim. All team members learn and teach from their collective experiences and challenges. ALC's have successfully operated to improve outcomes in a broad range of settings and have measurably improved the health of targeted populations.

In order to organize and lead the ALC, OMH and Healthy Schools Campaign invited national and local leaders who have been working on nutrition, childhood obesity, school food, school environment, and related issues to become part of the ALC Advisory Group.

Goals of the Action Learning Collaborative

The overall goal of Action Learning Collaborative is to advise schools, school districts and communities on how to effectively develop, implement and evaluate school and district policies and programs that address childhood obesity in low-income minority schools. The ALC would follow the objectives of the Healthier US School Challenge from the USDA, with the specific objective of helping prepare minority-serving schools to meet the criteria to apply successfully to the Challenge.

The ALC process is designed to:

  1. Increase awareness among minority communities of the importance of improving school food as a significant social determinant of health;
  2. Increase understanding of the participation of minorities and low income children in the school lunch program and define ways of utilizing this to influence health outcomes overall;
  3. Increase awareness of the link between food-achievement-health and of the importance of a life span approach to health in order to improve several health outcomes;
  4. Facilitate the dissemination and adoption of promising practices among the participating teams;
  5. Build the capacity of schools (in particular minority serving institutions), private sector, non-profits, etc. to collaborate effectively and in practice to improve school food;
  6. Facilitate the gradual adoption of all the criteria from the HealthierUS School Challenge in schools across the nation;
  7. Provide capacity building assistance to schools and school districts to enable them to adopt and adapt the most successful models of public-private partnerships;
  8. Provide a regular stream of "lessons learned" for other schools and school districts that may be interested.

Promising Practices

Tohono O'odham Community Action Exit Disclaimer, Arizona: is a community-based organization dedicated to creating a healthy, sustainable, and culturally vital community on the Tohono O'odham Nation. TOCA's Food System & Wellness program creates physical, spiritual, cultural and economic wellness through the promotion of the traditional foods, O'odham sports, and the work that has supported the Tohono O'odham community for countless generations. Combating the highest rate of diabetes in the world, TOCA is reintroducing traditional food production to the community, stimulating improved community health, revitalizing a heritage of health and fostering economic opportunity. Through the successful creation of two farms, efforts to market traditional foods, and extensive educational programming, TOCA stimulates increased community self-sufficiency and vitality. TOCA has helped create educational programs, community gardens and hands-on workshops on how to harvest and prepare wild foods.

New York Coalition for Healthy School Food Exit Disclaimer, New York: The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF) is a statewide nonprofit that works to improve the health and well-being of New York's students by advocating for healthy plant-based foods, including local and organic where possible, farm to school programs, school gardens, the elimination of unhealthy competitive foods in all areas of the school (not just the cafeteria), comprehensive nutrition policy, and education to create food- and health-literate students.

Healthy Schools Campaign Exit Disclaimer, Chicago: An independent not-for-profit organization that is the leading authority on healthy school environments and a voice for people who care about our environment, our children, and education. It advocates for policies and practices that allow all students, teachers and staff to learn and work in a healthy school environment.

Namaste Charter School Exit Disclaimer, Chicago: The school is committed to the physical, social and academic well being of our students, staff and parents. We believe that to achieve in school, students must be healthy, active and engaged in physical activity regularly. We also believe that adults must model the healthy lifestyle and positive attitude that we wish the students to embrace. The school incorporates health, nutrition and athletics into its rigorous curriculum, created to ensure literacy, numeracy and a lifelong love of learning.

Academy for Global Citizenship Exit Disclaimer, Chicago: An innovative Chicago Public Charter School, located on the Southwest side of Chicago. Our mission is to empower all students to positively impact the community and world beyond. An AGC education extends beyond a solid academic foundation. Organic, nutritionally balanced meals, daily yoga, gardening, wellness instruction and ecologically sustainable practices throughout the school encourage learners to develop healthy and sustainable lifestyles for themselves. Ultimately, the Academy for Global Citizenship engages the whole child in an enriching educational community focused on fostering academic excellence, international awareness and environmental stewardship.

Request for Proposals

Award Application
Get the application [PDF | 260KB]
Application Deadline: October 13, 2011, 5:00 p.m. E.S.T.
Healthy School Environments Action Learning Collaborative Award Application

Healthy School Environments Action Learning Collaborative Award Application
The award application is available here [PDF | 260KB]. Apply Now!

Funding Title
Healthy School Environments Action Learning Collaborative: Promoting Healthful School Food, Nutrition Education, Physical Activity and Physical Education.

Funding Source
Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC)

Award Amount
$5,000 for each award, with a total of five awards.

RFP released date: September 1, 2011

Application Deadline
Thursday, October 13, 2011, 5:00 p.m. E.S.T.

Award Announcement Date
December 1, 2011

Project Period
January 1, 2012- December 31, 2012

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Last Modified: 08/24/2011 04:53:00 PM
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