Emory Urban Health Program Announces 11 Planning Grants for School Based Health Centers

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More than 300,000 of Georgia’s children are uninsured and have limited access to routine healthcare. Veda Johnson, MD, executive director of the Urban Health Program in the department of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and co-founder of the Whitefoord Community Program’s school-based clinics, wants to change that.

Johnson recently announced funding for 11 planning grants throughout Georgia intended to stimulate development, collaboration, and community discussion to expand the number of school-based health centers. The grants are funded by a $3 million gift from The Zeist Foundation aimed to help improve outcomes for at-risk children in metro Atlanta and throughout the state over the next five years.

There are 2,000 school health clinics in the nation with 245 in Florida, 206 in New York. and 160 in California. The numbers drop substantially in the southern states with 64 in Louisiana, 49 in North Carolina and 31 in Mississippi. Georgia is a distant last with only two school health clinics for the entire state.

“These planning grants will help increase access to healthcare for Georgia’s neediest children and adolescents through comprehensive school health services,” said Johnson. “In addition to increasing access to healthcare, these sites have been proven to be effective in improving school attendance and are an important factor in improved academic achievement.”

The 11 grantees represent collaborative partnerships between local school boards, the PTA, local Georgia Family Connection organizations, private and public health insurers, local business and industry leaders, local government, local hospitals, and juvenile court systems:

  • Atlanta Fulton Family Connection,
  • Berrien County Collaborative,
  • Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority,
  • Dawson County Community Partnership,
  • Dodge County Board of Education on behalf of the South Georgia Regional Prevention Coalition,
  • Four Corners Primary Care Clinic, Inc. with the Gwinnett County Board of Health,
  • Newton County Community Partnership,
  • Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s Network of Trust School Health Program,
  • Primary Health Care Center of Dade County, Inc.,
  • Richmond County School System, and
  • Turner County Board of Education.

The National Assembly on School Based Health Care reports students perform better when they show up for class healthy and ready to learn. School-based health centers (SBHCs) are located in schools or on school grounds and employ a multidisciplinary team of providers to care for students. They also provide clinical services through a qualified health provider such as a hospital, health department, or medical practice. School-based health centers require parents to sign written consents for their children to receive the full scope of services they provide. 

There is a dire need to expand school based clinic services. According to the 2009 Kids Count Data Book—a national study on the well-being of America’s children—Georgia ranks in the bottom 10 in:

  • low-birth weight,
  • infant mortality,
  • high school dropouts,
  • births to teens,
  • children in single-parent families,
  • and teens not attending school and not working.

Georgia has the third-highest percentage of high-school dropouts in the country. 

“By expanding school-based clinic services, children in Georgia will benefit from improved access to primary healthcare, improved health outcomes, and improved school attendance.” said Johnson. “This state will benefit from reduced cost to the Medicaid system through the reduction in inappropriate emergency room visits, hospitalizations for chronic illnesses.”

The Urban Health Program will award five to seven additional planning grants in the amount of $10,000-$15,000 for each of the next three years. Successful proposals will demonstrate how grant recipients will bring potential partners together in meetings, focus groups, and planning teams to develop strategies to improve the health of school students, their siblings, and the surrounding community through the development of comprehensive school-based health services. Grants will be approved for a 12-month planning period and proposals should provide letters of support from potential planning partners.

For more information, visit www.pediatrics.emory.edu/centers/urbanhealth

Or contact Ruth Ellis, business administrator, at 404 778-1402 or at relli01@emory.edu


Juliette Merchant
Assistant Director, Media Relations, Grady Memorial Hospital

William Valladares
GaFCP Communications Manager

404-527-7394 (x114)


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children’s Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital.