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News & Info

The Role Local School Wellness Councils Play in Promoting Health in Schools

Healthier students tend to be stronger learners (Busch et al., 2014; Basch, 2011). Student health is related to grades, school attendance, and graduation rates. However, one in three children is overweight or obese (Alliance for Healthier Generation, n.d.). In addition to the connection to poorer education outcomes, childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues in adulthood. Given the long-term educational and health consequences of unhealthy behaviors, childhood is a critical time to intervene and establish healthy habits that will have lasting benefits. Schools are an important setting and partner in efforts to promote health, well-being, and safety because the majority of school-aged children in the U.S. attend school and spend a great deal of time in that setting. This article describes how schools can implement efforts to promote health and create conditions to help students establish lifelong healthy habits and behaviors.

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Transforming Communities Initiative: Using Local School Wellness Councils to Improve Student Health

School districts across the county are adopting policies to improve health and wellness among their students; in reality, the implementation of such policies is often challenging. Each school setting serves different populations, has different needs and resources, and requires an individualized action plan to address its school’s health priorities. One way to support school district-wide wellness policies is through local school wellness councils (LSWCs) that work at the school building or campus level. These councils, typically comprised of faculty, parents, students, and administrators, focus on implementing programs, policies, and practices to improve physical activity, nutrition, and the health of students.

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Staff Profile: Michelle Revels

Michelle Revels, Senior Associate has over two decades of experience in research and evaluation design and has applied her skills in formative, process, and outcome research to a range of policy analysis, program evaluation and health communication projects.  As the senior evaluation technical assistance liaison, Ms. Revels  provides evaluation guidance to WKKF program staff to support the use of grantee data to monitor and assess the impact of the foundation’s place-based efforts to improve health, education, family economic security and child well-being in Mississippi and New Orleans.  

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Empowering Youth to Help Transform Communities

The places we live are a core part of who we are. They affect our accomplishments, our perspectives, our sense of hope, and our overall well-being. It is this truth, coupled with the reality of deep poverty in many U.S. cities, that has driven the significant annual investments in place-based development efforts. The strategies implemented to enhance the health, safety, and economic opportunity for residents of these communities range widely. One important strategy is engaging and empowering youth. The next generation has been shown to be powerful change agents in their communities and therefore critical to our communities’ health and our nation’s success. Specifically, research has shown that with intentional investments of time, skills, leadership, and new opportunities, youth from disadvantaged communities can thrive as leaders, empower those around them, and work for community change while simultaneously charting new futures for themselves (Barnett & Brennan, 2006; Fulford & Thompson, 2013; Ginwright & James, 2002; Kirshner & Ginwright, 2012; Percy-Smith & Burns, 2013; Schwartz & Suyemoto, 2013; Stoneman, 2002).

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Evaluation Capacity Building: It’s More Than Just Evaluation

“Information is power,” says Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin of St. Petersburg, Florida, during her welcoming speech at the annual Community Indicators Consortium in November 2017. She was referring to the conference’s theme this year—Information is Power: Data to Support Community Change—where hundreds of data-driven activists gathered to discuss the importance of community data for addressing inequity. The validity of data and reliable sources of information have never been as crucial as it is now, especially with accusations of “false news” and the idea of “alternative facts.” 

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Recent Publications:

Emerging Action Principles for Designing and Planning Community Change (March 2015)

Community Matters! Decades of scientific research have shown that being part of a supportive, inclusive and capable community promotes mental, physical, and social well-being more than any other factors known to the social and medical sciences. Our publication series, Community Matters: Action Principles, Frameworks, and Strategies, shares what science and practice have taught us about building and strengthening community. The first publication in this series, “Emerging Principles for Designing and Implementing Community Change,” has just been released.


Local Voices: On-the-Ground Perspectives on Driving Community Change in the Making Connections Sites (July 2014)

This report describes, from the perspective of local stakeholders, the experience of several sites involved in Making Connections — the Foundation’s signature community change initiative of the 2000s — in developing and enhancing the core capacities essential for articulating and pursuing a local community change agenda. The report describes the conditions in the communities when Making Connections began; the core capacities built during the decade-long initiative; the factors that contributed to capacity building; the evidence of improved outcomes for children, families and neighborhoods resulting from the enhanced change capacities; the continuing challenges of sustaining those capacities; and key takeaways from the experience.  


Addressing Health Disparities Through Organizational Change-Evaluation Report (April 2012)

In 2006, The Colorado Trust funded 14 organizations to improve their cultural competency in order to strengthen their capacity to reduce health disparities.  Community Science was engaged to evaluate the initiative, specifically assessing: 1) changes in cultural competency among grantees, 2) the influence of cultural competency changes on grantee interventions and short -term outcomes, 3) factors and conditions needed to bring about positive changes in organizational cultural competency, and 4) grantee progress and accomplishments over time.  


The Importance of Culture in Evaluation

The Importance of Culture in Evaluation, a publication funded by The Colorado Trust, provides insights to help guide the complex dynamics between evaluators, funders and stakeholders of different cultures. The report provides examples of where cross-cultural competency is critical in evaluation and recommends questions and strategies that an evaluator should consider when practicing this form of cultural competency.