In communities around the country, low-income students and families often struggle with barriers to wellness. A healthy child is a better learner, and more and more, the connection between health and other aspects of student success are being demonstrated and shared.
Across the nation, communities are coming together to lead improvements in access to health, fresh food and safe physical activity. But we also have to build demand for those healthy choices. We have to change social norms and make good health a choice people want, and are supported to make.
We’re tackling this enormous task from a few angles. Today, one of the cornerstones of our health and wellness portfolio is our place-based (integrated initiatives and partnerships in a specific geographic area) work. Our efforts are directed by the community voice–residents who decide upon, prioritize and lead initiatives–and crosses multiple sectors.
We also invest in initiatives that deserve to be replicated because of the impact they have generated. We want to replicate things that work, while building coalitions with partners who have common goals. Finally, we’re identifying systems-based changes that will have impact at scale.
We have to be well-informed through our grantees to conduct our work responsibly. So we’re looking at the intended and unintended consequences of public policies to understand their true impact. Meanwhile, we’re fostering partnerships—among some unlikely players—to accomplish systems-level changes in the areas of school health, food retail, and food supply chains.
Child wellness is the result of a complex interplay of individual and environment. We seek solutions that resonate with families, demonstrate impact, integrate with and address broader systems of health, and sustain over time.