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School Grants and Awards Program

American children spend a minimum of 940 and 1020 hours in school each year, which means schools can and must be the foundation for system-wide improvement in children's health.

Our Involvement

Supporting schools that show a strong focus on adopting best practices has been one of Highmark Foundation's long-standing, overarching goals. The Highmark Foundation works in partnership with schools and communities to determine what changes made within schools will bring about system-wide improvement to children's overall health.

Between 2006 and 2011, through the Highmark Healthy High 5 School Challenge, the Highmark Foundation awarded nearly 13 million dollars to schools throughout communities served by Highmark. Hundreds of school-based programs addressing nutrition and physical activity were developed and implemented with this aid. Since then, the Highmark Foundation has continued to provide substantial technical assistance and grant funding to schools and school districts to promote lasting, positive changes in school environments.

School year 2013-2014 96 grants awarded in the amount of $506,652; school year 2014-2015 79 grants awarded in the amount of $434,450; school year 2015-2016 54 grants awarded in the amount of $286,575; school year 2016-2017 55 grants awarded in gthe amount of $326,000; school year 2017-2018 84 grants awarded in gthe amount of $338,363; school year 2018-2019 83 grants awarded in gthe amount of $383,690 for a grand total of 451 grants awarded in the amount of $2,275,730

Our Goals

Highmark Foundation is a recognized leader in providing grants for schools and community-based organizations to address critical health issues affecting children. The overarching goal of our School Grants and Awards program is to provide support and resources that empower schools to take greater strides in improving child health and wellness.

The Foundation maintains and seeks to broaden this commitment by providing support to school districts and schools at the individual building level. Opportunities the Foundation seeks to fund include:

  • Professional development programs that impart timely knowledge and know-how that school leaders and others need to take student wellness efforts to the next level. For example, the Highmark Foundation School Lecture Series, approved for continuing education credits, provide fast-track learning for those interested in adopting best practices and evidence-based approaches to school health and wellness.
  • School recognition initiatives that highlight and acknowledge schools for making lasting, systemic change. Exploring incentives and formal recognition opportunities to foster impetus among schools to increase and deepen their efforts.
  • Resources and tools that can help schools implement strategies to improve children's health.
  • Publication and dissemination of research to inform schools about the effectiveness and impact of our work and best practices.

Bullying Prevention

Research is still developing that helps us to better understand and prevent bullying before it starts. Bullying can result in physical injuries, social and emotional difficulties, and academic problems. The harmful effects of bullying are frequently felt by others, including friends and families, and can hurt the overall health and safety of schools, neighborhoods, and society.

Child Injury Prevention

The public health approach for reducing childhood injuries includes identifying the magnitude of the problem through data collection, analysis, identifying risk, and protective factors. In addition, on the basis of this information, schools can collect their own data, develop, implement, and promote widespread adoption of these practices and policies.

Environmental Health

Factors that influence the physical environment include the school building and surrounding areas, any biological or chemical agents that are detrimental to health, and physical conditions such as temperature, air quality, safe routes to schools, noise and lighting, and fresh drinking water. A healthy environment includes the physical, emotional, and social conditions that affect the well-being of students.

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Engaging children and adolescents in healthy eating and regular physical activity can lower their risk for obesity and related chronic diseases. The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, and health care providers.

School-Based Health

Schools continue to experience increasing demands related to student health issues. The student health issues can be acute or chronic and have increasing complexity. Challenges exist for addressing the increasing demand for health services in schools. Schools are encouraged to submit proposals for strategies that will enhance its capacity and/or school nurses to provide comprehensive services to the students of their districts.


For resources on school initiatives, bullying, childhood obesity, and more, visit our Resources page.