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U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs Features SMART™ Model

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs Features SMART™ Model for Student Health and Wellness at May Meeting

SMART™ nears 5 years of success and data shows it is particularly impactful for special and at-risk populations that face unique barriers to success.

(Washington , DC) The U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs learned of the culturally responsive SMART™ Model for Student Health and Wellness and its 5-year record of   improving educational and health outcomes for public school students. Melanie Ginn, CEO of Ginn Group Consulting and architect of SMART™, funded by CVS Health, presented to the Task Force as well as others on the agenda including Mr. Secretary Alex Acosta,

U.S. Secretary of Labor, members of the Republican National Committee and other key leaders concerning Hispanic livelihood.

The Task Force on Hispanic Affairs, founded and led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), seeks to ensure the needs of the Hispanic community are considered in policy and legislative debates, as well as appointment and program concerns. Founding members also include Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS).

Joining Ginn for her presentation was Roberto Callejas, Chief of Staff, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Jean Papagianis, principal of Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Chicago. Principal Papagianis testified to the remarkable impact the SMART™ Model has had for her school and her students. Ginn and Papagianis also met with Senator Hatch’s office after the Task Force presentation to further discuss the SMART™ Model. That evening, Ginn had the opportunity to meet with Senator Hatch at a private reception hosted by the Hispanic Leadership Fund.

Research shows that Latinos are the largest and most rapidly growing ethnic minority in the U.S., and due to various acculturation challenges, reading readiness and proficiency suffer: only 42% Latino kindergartners are reading ready and by 4th grade only 84% of Latino students show reading proficiency.

SMART™ proactively engages at-risk populations, including Latino students and families, by providing physical and behavioral interventions to support their educational success, closing the opportunity gaps they face, and ultimately offering them the best chance for a positive life trajectory, higher socio-economic status, and the benefits of good health as adults.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation has served as the multicultural health advisor to the SMART™ Model and linked Ginn Group to Brown University and Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity, and Inclusion. From this alliance, a 5-person executive advisory committee was formed: Dr. Cariaga-Lo, as the Model’s evaluator; Ginn; David Casey, VP, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health; Ernest DuPont, Senior Director, Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health; and Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO, Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s mission has been expanded thanks to Melanie’s connectivity, strategy, and vision. From working with us to develop a sustainable and measurable track for Latino talent into healthcare fields with CVS Health to spearheading innovative research and models that deliver economic impacts, like SMART, she facilitates and brokers bringing partners together for the common cause of moving communities and America forward,” said Tijerino.

The quantifiable and substantive results of the Model’s success were officially presented to members of Congress last May in a formative evaluation white paper by Dr. Cariaga-Lo: The SMART Student Health and Wellness Approach: A Holistic Model for Achieving Health and Education Outcomes in Support of Diverse Communities.

At the Model’s flagship site, Sullivan High School in Chicago, The SMART™ center replaced an existing, failing school-based health clinic. Nearing the 5-year mark, the students that receive health care has jumped to over 90%, as opposed to the 15–20% usually seen by traditional models. Attendance has increased remarkably: more than 90% of students attend school regularly, with average absenteeism dropping from 36 days per year to 18 days per year, and disciplinary referrals also plummeted. Sullivan Principal, Chad Adams, has credited SMART™ with “helping to turn around a failing school; the SMART™ clinic was the primary differentiator for us in that process.”

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.

The innovative SMART™ Model will again be presented at the Second Annual SMART™ Congressional Briefing and Symposium, hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and CVS Health, in Washington, D.C. on December 4th and 5th, 2018.


SMART™ is a school health solution focused on student academic achievement through active access in the delivery of preventive and integrative physical and behavioral health with the goal of ensuring the wellness of every student in an educational setting. SMART™ is built on the proven connections between health, education, and workforce opportunity; its creation celebrates the powerful alliance of public-private partnerships that fueled this innovation.

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