Building Healthy Communities program awarded to 210 K-12 schools, improving health and well-being of Michigan’s children

Erica Stamatoulakis

| 9 min read

210 schools across Michigan will positively impact children’s health through the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program. Since 2009, over a half-million students have benefitted from physical and emotional health-focused improvements to the school environment led by BHC. In this decade-plus collaboration, 15 organizations have partnered to reach over 1,100 Michigan K-12 schools with the sustainable, evidence-based tools and resources offered by the program.
BHC has a comprehensive school health philosophy that builds the fundamentals of healthy eating, emotional well-being and physical activity into opportunities and education for students and facilitates critical changes in the school environment.
BHC has a proven history of improving students’ health, including:
  • An increase in healthy foods consumed, with 40% more fruits and vegetables consumed than the national average
  • An increase in physical activity, including 700-step increase per day and 35 additional minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Increased academic achievement in math and reading, reporting 19 minutes less of screen and video time per day and 74% reported that it was easier to pay attention in class
  • Improved nutrition and activity behaviors associated with sustained improvement in known cardiovascular risk factors
Michigan schools were invited to apply for one of three program options for the current school year. Building Healthy Communities offers multiple programs so schools can apply for the option that best meets their needs, including BHC: Reducing Health Disparities in Elementary Schools (grades K-5), BHC: Engaging Middle Schools Through Project Healthy Schools (grades 6-8) and BHC: Step Up for School Wellness (grades K-12).
BHC strives to reach Michigan schools in all counties across the state and especially those in critical need of expanding children’s health and nutrition options. Of the 210 participating schools, 78% are in low-income, under-resourced communities in areas of great need across the state. Providing resources in areas of greatest need increases both the opportunity to address disparities and positively impact marginalized groups.
Launched in 2009, BHC is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Virtual, OK2SAY, SHAPE Michigan, Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students (TRAILS), United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact.
“The Building Healthy Communities program has a proven history of serving as an effective resource to help students improve their health and well-being,” said Ken Hayward, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations. “As we continue helping children adopt better nutritional habits, encourage new ways to manage daily stressors and increase physical activity, we are collectively creating a healthier Michigan for everyone.”
“We are proud to be partnering with and supporting so many Michigan schools in creating a culture of health for students and teachers every school year,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive, MDHHS. “Making informed food choices and being physically active can help students attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, promote overall health and support academic achievement.”
"It is with great optimism that MEMSPA partners with the Michigan Virtual, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide desperately needed resources to support student physical and mental health needs,” said Paul Liabenow, executive director of MEMSPA.
“UDIM is proud to partner with Building Healthy Communities on this impactful program,” said Brianna Henton, registered dietitian and youth wellness manager at United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “As a longtime advocate of child nutrition and wellness initiatives, being a partner with programs that support overall health of children is important to our organization. On behalf of Michigan Dairy Farmers, we will continue to do our part by sharing nutrition education with youth in schools and ensuring children have access to and are fueled daily with nutrient-rich dairy foods.”
"The elementary Building Healthy Communities program is proud to build upon longstanding and successful partnerships that empower schools and communities to take charge of their students' health,” said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, director of the Center for Health and Community Impact and assistant dean of the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies at Wayne State University. “We look forward to fostering healthy and supportive school climates across the state and advancing health equity for thousands of children and families this year."
Project Healthy Schools is looking forward to our continued partnership with Building Healthy Communities for the 2022-2023 school year in our new middle schools across the state,” said Kim A. Eagle, MD, co-founder of Project Healthy Schools, Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Internal Medicine Director, Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “The success of BHC as a program is a testament to all the partners and organizations who continue to strive to create healthier school environments and improve health and academic outcomes for all Michigan students. This year, we are thrilled to expand our reach into schools and their communities where we can continue to engage with students, teachers, staff and families through physical activity, nutrition, and social emotional learning using skill-based health education and environmental change.”
BHC and its partners provide Michigan students with invaluable resources, enrichment and support,” said Elizabeth Koschmann, executive director of TRAILS. “We are thrilled to take part in this collaborative effort by offering our Social and Emotional Learning curriculum as part of BHC’s Step Up for School Wellness program.”
"Michigan Virtual is happy to support the work of Building Healthy Communities and offer this quality professional development on our platform," said Stacey Schuh, senior director of professional learning services at Michigan Virtual.
Building Healthy Communities supports Blue Cross’ ongoing commitment to children’s health and its #MIKidsCan campaign, an initiative focused on encouraging kids to adopt healthy habits early in life that are more likely to be carried into adulthood. Since 2009, BHC has supported more than 500,000 students and 1,100 schools statewide. For more information on Blue Cross’ ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, visit or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter.
The schools receiving Building Healthy Communities programming for the 2022-2023 school year include:

Building Healthy Communities: Reducing Health Disparities in Elementary Schools
Advantage Alternative
Arcadia Elementary School
Bunker Elementary School
Cascades School
Daly School
Dibble Elementary School
Dort Elementary School
Edison Environmental Science Academy
Edison School
El Sol Elementary
Fountain Elementary School
Greenwood Elementary School
Hoover Elementary School
Hunt Elementary School
Huron Park Elementary School
Indian Prairie Elementary School
John R. Lewis Elementary School
JPS Montessori Center
Kaiser Elementary School
King-Westwood Elementary School
Kment Elementary School
Lincoln International Studies School
Marquette School
Milwood Elementary School
Montague Elementary School
Moon Elementary School
Moore Elementary School
Northeast Elementary School
Northeastern Elementary School
Northglade Montessori School
Oakview Elementary School
Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary School
Pinehurst Elementary School
Prairie Ridge Elementary School
Sharp Park School
Spring Valley Center for Exploration
Steenland Elementary school
Thorne Elementary School
Thorne Intermediate School
United Oaks Elementary School
Washington Writers' Academy
Webb Elementary School
Winchell Elementary School
Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts
Woodward School For Technology & Research

Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools
Academy for Business and Technology, Secondary Campus
Breckenridge Middle School
Hart Middle School
Holly Academy
Joy Preparatory Academy
MacDowell Preparatory Academy
North Pointe Center
Pontiac Academy for Excellence
Quest Charter Academy
Saginaw Preparatory Academy
Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness
Academy of the Americas
Airport Senior High School
Angell School
Ann Arbor Trail Magnet Middle School
Ann J. Kellogg School
Arnold Elementary School
Aspen Ridge Middle School
Baldwin Junior High School
Bark River-Harris Elementary School
Bark River-Harris Jr/Sr High School
Barton Elementary School
Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine
Bennett Elementary School
Bethune Academy
Big Bay De Noc School
Boyne Falls Public School
Bozymowski Center Elementary
Bozymowski Center Secondary School
Brookside Elementary School
Brown City Elementary School
Bunche Preparatory Academy
Burt Township School
Carleton Elementary School
Caro Alternative Education
Carver Elementary School
Cass Technical High School
Charles Wright School
Chrysler Elementary School
Columbia Elementary School
Columbia Upper Elementary School
Concord Community Elem. School
Concord High School
Concord Middle School
David Ellis Academy
Davis Aerospace High School
Davison Elementary-Middle School
Detroit Collegiate Prep HS at Northwestern
Detroit Lions Academy
Dixon Educational Learning Academy
Dudley STEM
Duncan Lake Middle School
E.A. Johnson Memorial H.S.
East English Preparatory Academy
East Hills Middle School
Edison Elementary School
Edmonson Elementary School
Emerson School
Ethel C. Bobcean Elem. School
Fern Persons Elementary School
Fisher Magnet Lower Academy
Fisher Magnet Upper Academy
Fremont International Academy
Galesburg-Augusta Middle School
Gardner Elementary School
Garvey Academy
Glen H. Peters School
Greenfield Union Elementary School
Hamilton Elementary & Middle School
Hanover-Horton Elementary School
Hanover-Horton High School
Hanover-Horton Middle School
Harms Elementary School
Hartland Village Elementary School
Henry Ford High School
Hiawatha Elementary School
Holland High School
Holland Language Academy
Holton Elementary School
Holton High School
Holton Middle School
Homer Middle School
J. E. Clark Preparatory Academy
Jefferson High School
Jefferson Middle School
Jerry L. White Center
Jesse L. Anderson Elementary School
John M. Barnes Elem. School
Jonesville Middle School
Keicher Elementary School
Lakewood Elementary School
Legacy Academy
Litchfield Elementary School
Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School
Mann Learning Community
Mar Lee School
Marion Law Academy
Mark Twain School for Scholars
Marquette Elementary School
Mason Senior High School
Mattawan Early Elem. School
Maybury Elementary School
Michigan Center Jr/Sr High School
Middle School at Parkside
Millennium Middle School
Mumford High School
Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy
Napoleon High School
Napoleon Middle School
Neinas Elementary School
New Bedford Academy
New Buffalo Senior High School
Nichols Elementary-Middle School
North Branch Elementary School
North Elementary School
Northwest High School
Norway Elementary School
Nouvel Catholic Central High School
Olivet High School
Onsted Elementary School
Onsted Middle School
Osborn High School
P.D. Graham Elementary School
Palmer Park Preparatory Academy
Pardee School
Pennfield North School
Pennfield Purdy School
Peterson-Warren Academy
Pine River Area Elementary School
Pittsford Area Elem. School
Pittsford Middle/High School
Post Franklin Elementary School
Potterville High School
Potterville Middle School
Powell Twp. Elementary School
Pulaski Elementary-Middle School
Randolph Career and Technical Center
Reese Elementary School
Reese High School
Reese Middle School
Renaissance High School
Richard Elementary School
Roberto Clemente Learning Academy
Romulus Senior High School
Ronald Brown Academy
Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy
Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts
Shepherd Elementary School
Sodt School
Springport Middle School
Summerfield High School
Sunset Lake Elementary School
Thomas Simpson Middle School
Traverse City West H.S.
Tri-Township School
Verona School
Vicksburg Middle School
Wagar Junior High School
Waldron Elementary School
Waldron High School
Waldron Middle School
Warner Elementary School
Whitehills Elementary School
William G. Mather School
Ypsilanti Community High School
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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit and
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association