Founded in 2006 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, the alliance has received more than $51 million for Healthy Schools from RWJF — the largest single investment from the $500 million the foundation has pledged to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The latest grant will be used to extend the program, which helps schools develop and implement policies and practices that promote healthy eating and increase physical activity for students and staff before, during, and after school.
Launched in 231 schools in thirteen states, Healthy Schools now supports more than twelve thousand schools across the country. In the past five years, nearly 80 percent of the schools participating in the program have made measurable progress toward creating a healthier school environment, including improving nutritional values of school meals (50 percent), meeting or exceeding the alliance's beverage guidelines (85 percent), making school facilities available for use after school and on weekends (75 percent), dedicating at least 20 percent of afterschool program time to physical activity (over 50 percent), and offering at least twenty minutes of recess per day (more than 75 percent of elementary school participants).
"With this grant, the alliance will be able to reach thirty thousand schools, more than a quarter of all elementary and secondary schools in our nation, helping to make them healthier places for eighteen million students," said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "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."