For the Sake of All, a Washington University in St. Louis-based initiative working to improve health equity for African-Americans in the St. Louis region, has received a $1.1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work within St. Louis Public Schools and the Normandy Schools Collaborative.
The grant was awarded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Applied Research and Translation work area, a part of its Advancing Systemic Changes to Promote Healthy School Environments program.
For the Sake of All’s grant will support research and development of a “toolkit” for the implementation of effective programs and strategies to create inclusive, healthy school environments so all students feel safe, emotionally secure, and supported in their health and academics.
The project will be conducted within selected schools in the St. Louis Public Schools district and the Normandy Schools Collaborative. It will include input and oversight from numerous regional organizations, including Alive and Well STL, Beyond Housing, BJC HealthCare, The Little Bit Foundation, Ready by 21 St. Louis, Shut It Down, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, Wyman and the Institute for School Partnership at Washington University.
Research partners include Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health and Washington University’s Center for Public Health Systems Science, Health Communication Research Laboratory, Prevention Research Center and Social System Design Lab.
“This is a unique opportunity to work with our local education partners and their many supporters to develop a healthy schools implementation model that could be replicated in other schools both locally and nationally,” said Jason Purnell, associate professor at the Brown School and director of For the Sake of All.
“So many diverse organizations want to help students be healthy and succeed in school, but often the systems aren’t in place to fully integrate those programs and services. This project will study the entire school community and its key influencers — be they certain teachers, students, coaches or cafeteria workers — to develop strategies for all schools to become truly healthy schools,” he said.
For the Sake of All was one of just three organizations chosen for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants. The other grantees are both national organizations:
- America’s Promise Alliance will lead a community-driven effort focused on creating system-level change to make schools healthier for all children. Using a multilevel approach, America’s Promise and its partners will provide technical assistance and capacity-building to several communities, while simultaneously leveraging convening communications resources to elevate promising practices that will help build demand for change at the national level.
- Child Trends will provide an overview of the policy landscape influencing student health across states, develop model policies based on research and issues identified by key stakeholders, and identify opportunities to inform policy change at the state and national levels.
In 2014, For the Sake of All released a landmark report on health inequity affecting African-Americans in the St. Louis region. Investing in coordinated school health was one of six recommendation areas highlighted in the report. Creating “healthy schools” and opening and sustaining school-based health centers were later identified by For the Sake of All and its community partners as key action areas.