Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Building Healthy Schools Grant Program?
It is a component of a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), known as the 1305 grant. The Building Healthy Schools component was developed to help districts work towards sustainable improvement of the wellness environment by completing a self-assessment, developing an action plan, implementing the plan, evaluating the outcomes and establishing change to sustain the efforts.
- What is the 1305 grant?
It is a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intended to increase and reinforce healthy behaviors across the lifespan through a variety of environments. By implementing strategies through state, community, health systems, worksites, schools and early child care education centers, the grant has a long-term goal of improved prevention and control of hypertension and diabetes, as well as reducing percentages of adults and children who are overweight or obese.
- Who is involved with the grant program?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has partnered with various community-based organizations, institutions of higher education and state agencies to implement the multiple strategies of 1305. For the Building Healthy Schools initiatives, Penn State PRO Wellness, the Department of Education (PDE), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) are collaborating.
- What are the expectations for reaching out to the state agencies mentioned for services offered?
DOH has invited these state agencies to collaborate on Building Healthy Schools grant activities that support nutrition and physical activity initiatives. We have identified key contacts in these agencies to provide resources and support in their areas of expertise. As your district is provided technical assistance and personalized support to implement grant activities, DOH will be responsible to coordinate with sister agencies and identify applicable services
- Where will Building Healthy Schools grant activities happen?
A regional roll-out schedule is planned according to the six DOH Community Health Districts (Southeast, Northeast, Southcentral, Northcentral, Southwest and Northwest). School districts in each of these statewide regions have been invited to participate.
Community Health Districts
- Why was my school district invited to participate?
Districts were identified by 2011-2012 Pennsylvania Growth Screening/BMI-for-age percentiles self-reported annually by school districts. Other criteria considered were U.S. Census low-income tracts, School Performance Profile data, participation in PDE’s Promoting Adolescent Health (1308) Grant and proximity to planned activities for Healthy Corner Store Initiative and early child care centers.
- What are the school-based goals of the Building Healthy Schools Grant Program?
The immediate goal is to promote and implement supportive nutrition environments and quality physical education and physical activity in schools. The long-term goal of the grant is to reduce the percent of children who are overweight and obese.
- How will the program work?
A district wellness council will complete a self-assessment of current health and wellness practices and policies, making sure each school building is represented. Based on the results of the self-assessment, the district will develop an action plan focused on nutrition/physical activity. PRO Wellness will provide technical assistance to help your district determine priorities and implement the action plan.
- Can we choose our self-assessment tool?
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program (HSP) Framework has been identified as the primary self-assessment tool for this initiative due to its comprehensiveness in the areas of physical activity and nutrition policies and practices. However, if you are currently using a different self-assessment tool, PRO Wellness staff will work with your district to convert your information from one tool to the HSP Inventory. Enrolling your schools in the HSP will grant you access to the user-friendly online tool and individualized resources.
- How do we determine priorities for our district?
Completing a self-assessment will give your district a picture of what is working in your schools and what can be improved upon. PRO Wellness will also provide hands-on technical assistance and suggest changes that will improve nutrition environments and increase physical activity.
- When would this begin and what is the time commitment?
The regional roll-out is scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2018.
- 3 PA Regions – Southeast, Southcentral, Northeast: July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2016
- 3 PA Regions – Southwest, Northwest: July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2017
- 2 PA Regions – Northcentral: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018
PRO Wellness and partners will provide hands-on, technical assistance over a two-year period to include planning in year one and implementation in year two.
- What if my district cannot participate during the scheduled timeframe for our region?
- Can you come to our schools in person for wellness meeting(s)?
The staff at PRO Wellness intend to be involved in any way possible 1) to help your district conduct a proper self-assessment and develop a comprehensive plan for improvement and 2) to provide resources wherever necessary. Accomplishing these goals will take place, primarily, through electronic media (teleconference, webcam, email, etc.), but each district will be visited at least once during their two-year enrollment cycle.
- How can you help us work with the differing needs of elementary, middle and high schools?
This initiative is designed to assist your district in developing and implementing policy-based changes. However, these policies may be implemented using practices that are appropriate for the level of each building. PRO Wellness staff will assist districts in determining the best practices for each building and the grade levels it holds.
- Why should my district participate?
The grant offers the opportunity to create healthier school environments that may lead to better academic performance outcomes, active and engaged students, fewer behavior referrals and better staff morale. If that isn’t reason enough, the program offers:
- fully customizable implementation;
- one-on-one technical assistance;
- financial incentives (stipend and grant money);
- professional development opportunities; and
- access to additional state agency resources.
- What can grant money be used for?
Each participating district will receive a $1,000 stipend for a district wellness champion(s) to lead the self-assessment completion. Each district will also receive up to $10,000, which can be used to make sustainable changes to nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in the district. Some examples may include training, curriculum or educational tools.
Coordination with the 1308 Grant Program
- How does this coordinate with PDE’s Promoting Adolescent Health (1308) Grant?
Districts participating with 1308 have committed to completing the School Health Profiles and Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The Building Healthy Schools grant will utilize these same data collection instruments for evaluation purposes. In addition, both grants focus on policy changes through developing school health councils and updating and implementing strong local wellness policies.
- What kind of data collection or evaluation will be necessary?
An initial needs assessment survey will be conducted with each district. Districts must agree to participate in the School Health Profile Survey and Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Additional data collection or evaluation components will take place in year 2 of the grant. A final report at the end of year 2 will consist of compiling data sources gathered through the grant process and answering questions based on the Building Healthy Schools Grant Program experience.