CVS Health Partnership Supports SMART Student Health and Wellness Model

In a presentation on May 18 to Members of Congress, corporate leaders, and education and health care professionals, Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo released new research (as a Formative Evaluation) that shows that the public-private partnership SMART Student Health and Wellness model could revolutionize health care in public schools.

Cariaga-Lo, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion at Brown University, reported on the first three years of SMART’s flagship pilot program in urban Chicago. Her white paper indicated quantifiable and substantive improvements in educational and health outcomes for the public-school students.

SMART was developed out of a private-public partnership between CVS Health (No. 50 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list), Ginn Group Consulting (the architects of the model), local school districts, and partner medical providers, making the model financially sustainable and scalable and providing better outcomes at lower costs.

“CVS Health is proud to support the development of the SMART Student Health and Wellness model, which directly ties to our company’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” said David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Workforce Strategies, CVS Health. “Through this innovative school health solution, we believe quality, accessible and cost effective care is within reach for students that need it most.”

Launched in 2013, the SMART model distinguishes itself from traditional school-based health care in significant ways:

  • First, it focuses on academic outcomes as its purpose and is completely integrated into the educational environment. SMART staff work closely with educators and school administration to ensure they support the goals and needs of the students, functioning as an integral part of the school community.
  • Second, SMART deploys what it calls an “active access” strategy to deliver “active care” employing social workers and psychologists alongside physicians, nurse practitioners, and administrators to continuously and proactively reach out to and build relationships with students. This “whole child” lens addresses not only the physical health, but also the mental health and emotional well-being of students.
  • Third, the SMART model is culturally responsive. With the Hispanic Heritage Foundation serving as an advisor, staff work to meet the unique needs of disadvantaged students and remove stigma and barriers to health care access and foster a culture of self-care.

“We are proud to partner on such an innovative effort with CVS, Ginn Group and the schools to improve the overall health of our student populations where they areat school. The SMART model will affect not only their health but every element associated with it from academics to attendance to self-esteem to socialization to future workforce possibilities,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO, Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “The impact is already being felt.”


The results are tangible. At Sullivan High School in Chicago, The SMART center replaced an existing, failing school-based health clinic four years ago. Since then, the population of students that receive health care has jumped to 85-90 percent, as opposed to the 15-20 percent usually seen by traditional modelsa four-fold increase. Attendance has increased remarkably: more than 90 percent of students attend school regularly, with average absenteeism dropping from 36 days per year to 18 days per year, and disciplinary referrals also plummeted.

The school’s principal has credited SMART with “being the key differentiator in helping to turning around a failing school; the SMART clinic was the primary differentiator for us in that process.” And because SMART was built with the flexibility to fit into any school environment, early results from diverse new sites in rural Alabama show these results are replicable and scalable in public districts across the country.

“I want to thank the many disparate stakeholders who came together, willing to make changes that allowed for this true innovation,” said Melanie Ginn, President and CEO of Ginn Group Consulting. “The proof of concept we have now in the SMART approach and model shows that the trajectory of young lives can be positively supported when we break down silos between health and education and work together to swiftly design and deliver meaningful, lower-cost solutions.”

For more information, emailMia Jacobs

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