Insight Grants

Featured Grant Opportunity: The Highmark Foundation’s Creating a Healthy School Environment Grants

The Highmark Foundation is building lasting change in schools through their Creating a Healthy School Environment grant program.  The grants are available to schools in central and western Pennsylvania and in West Virginia who present programs within three categories in order to improve health and wellness in their schools: Building Sustainable and Lasting Changes in Schools; Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Awards; and Meeting Health Needs Through Supportive Services. Creating a Healthy School Environment grants fall under the Building Sustainable and Lasting Changes in Schools focus area. Priority Areas for the grant program are Bullying Prevention, Child Injury Prevention, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, and Environmental Health. Applicants must select one and only one priority area on which to focus their funding requests.

In Pennsylvania, grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to 20 districts implementing programs that improve access to quality school-based health and wellness programs. Mini-grants up to $5,000 will also be awarded to 20 non-public (private, parochial and charter) schools in Pennsylvania. Schools in West Virginia are only eligible to apply for $5,000 mini-grants; awards will be granted to 15 schools.

Applications due Friday, March 18, 2016.  You can find more information at the Highmark website or follow this link for complete program guidelines: CreatingHealthySchoolEnvironmentGrant.pdf.

By Jen Adams

Highmark Foundation Creating a Healthy School Environment Grants are Now Open! (PA and WV)

The Highmark Foundation is currently offering Creating a Healthy School Environment grants to schools in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Applicants may be public or private schools located within the Highmark service area, which includes 49 Pennsylvania Counties and all 55 West Virginia Counties.*

Applicants must select 1 of the 4 priority areas on which to focus their projects: (1) Bullying Prevention, (2) Child Injury Prevention, (3) Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, and (4) Physical and Environmental Health. Projects must be based on and inclusive of evidence-based programs. The RFP provides a list of suggested evidence-based programs and resources for each priority area, as well as checklists to support baseline and progress data collection and project evaluation. The specifically suggested evidenced-based programs and resources are not required for the Child Injury Prevention, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, and Physical and Environmental Health priority areas–other evidenced-based options may be proposed. Applicants applying for funds through Bullying Prevention, however, MUST select from the list of programs and resources provided.

Eligible applicants and allowable award sizes for 2015 are described in the RFP as follows:


1. PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS (Individual school buildings are not eligible to apply.)

a. Grants up to $10,000 will be awarded to 15 school districts implementing programs that improve access to quality school-based health and wellness programs. We are interested in public schools applying as districts for implementing programs.

b. If awarded, school districts should identify and select schools within their district to receive funding.


c. Mini-grants up to $5,000 will be awarded to 20 non-public school buildings.

d. Private, parochial and charter schools may only apply for the $5,000 mini-grants.


a. $5,000 mini-grants will be awarded to 15 schools.

b. West Virginia schools may only apply for the $5,000 mini-grants.


Potential applicants should note the funder indicates, “Grants will not be awarded exclusively for equipment such as treadmills, bikes, etc. Equipment will only be considered if necessary for the implementation of an evidence-based physical activity program such as SPARK.”


All applicants must apply online by the May 8, 2015.


*Highmark service area:

Western Pennsylvania Counties served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Erie, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Westmoreland and Washington

Central Pennsylvania Counties served: Adams, Berks, Centre, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Mifflin, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Union and York

West Virginia: All counties in West Virginia are eligible to apply.


Good Luck! :o)


New Grant: Active Schools—PA!

Today Pennsylvania Department of Health’s (PDH) brand new Active Schools Grant competition opened! All program and application information can be found at This is an exciting new opportunity for middle schools in Pennsylvania offering $5,000 in grant funding from PDH PLUS more in matching grant funds. The exciting—and unusual—part of this program is that most applicants can expect a 2-to-1 match (bringing the total grant award to $15,000) that they do not have to drum up on their own. Area foundations have already committed to participating in this program, and PDH will match winning applicants with matching funders at the time of the award. This is an outstanding example of public-private partnership to battle childhood obesity!

Proposed grant projects must provide students with at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity. Schools need to implement evidence-based programs. A discussion of PDH-approved programs which includes HopSports (, Project Fit America (, and SPARK ( is available on the website, though applicants are not restricted to programs in this listing. Other options may be incorporated in addition to or in place of these programs with an adequate justification. Aerobic activity must make up the bulk of daily activity time, but muscle and bone strengthening exercises should each be included for part of the period at least three days per week. (See the bottom of page 2 and the top of page 3 of the grant application guidelines for more details.) Funds may be used to enhance or improve but not replace existing physical education (PE) programs. Unallowable expenses include: administrative/indirect costs; food purchases; new construction or capital expenses; staffing for existing job responsibilities; and purchase of computers (except for laptops to be used to track progress and/or as part of the evaluation), televisions and DVD players.

Middle schools or other school buildings serving two or more middle school grads (6, 7, and 8) may apply for grants. Approximately 40 awards are anticipated, with the announcement of winners expected in September. Grants are for the 2009-2010 school year, however renewal for the 2010-2011 school year may be an option pending availability of funds. Please keep in mind, however, that PDH is still looking to fund projects that are likely to be sustainable without additional funding.

The application deadline is a little unclear at this point. The main program page says applications will be accepted June 1-30, however the application guidance indicates applications are due by 5pm on July 1, 2009. I have submitted an inquiry to try to determine the correct deadline and will update the blog when a response is received.

PDH funds are coming from the federal Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant offered through the US Department of Health and Human Services. Those of you who win this grant will want to keep that in mind as you apply for future state and federal funds, as sometimes you are asked to disclose all federal funding streams. Also, when applying for federal grants requiring a match, you are typically not allowed to use other grant funds that originated from the federal government—even if your directly received them from the state as in this case.

What are your thoughts on this new program? If you apply and win, let us know via comments or at If you need assistance with your application, email the info address ASAP for information on our services and pricing.

Insight Grants