Architect of SMART Model for Student Health and Wellness Invited to U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs

 In Press Releases

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2018
Contact: Lauren Revella,

Architect of SMART™ Model for Student Health and Wellness Invited to U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs
Melanie Ginn, CEO of Ginn Group Collaborative, presented the SMART™ Model and its unique 5-year record of success improving educational and health outcomes for public school students.

 (Washington, DC) The U.S. Senate Republican Task Force on Hispanic Affairs featured the SMART™ Model for Student Health and Wellness as its focus on the topic of Health for its May agenda. Melanie Ginn, architect of SMART™, 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. SMART™, which includes the Hispanic Heritage Foundation serving as its multi-cultural advisor, was developed out of a private-public partnership between CVS Health, as funder and thought leader, Ginn Group Collaborative (the architects of the Model), local school districts, and partner medical providers.

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 Jean Papagianis, principal of Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Chicago and Roberto Callejas, Chief of Staff, Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Principal Papagianis testified to the remarkable impact the SMART™ Model has had for her school and her students. Over the past year, her school’s attendance has improved by three percentage points, a dramatic and unprecedented increase, which she attributes to having the health clinic as a crucial asset. 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.

Ginn spoke to the committee about the culturally responsive SMART™ Model’s 5 years of success in improving the educational and health outcomes of entire public school student populations. SMART™ proactively addresses the educational and health needs of all students in the building, but is particularly impactful for special and at-risk populations that face unique barriers to success. Ginn Group’s 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™ engages 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 quantifiable and substantive results of the Model’s success were officially presented to members of Congress last May in a formative evaluation white paper, The SMART Student Health and Wellness Approach: A Holistic Model for Achieving Health and Education Outcomes in Support of Diverse Communities by Brown University’s Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Ph.D. Since then, the academic and health metrics have continued to improve as year 5 of the Model’s success numbers are just now becoming available.

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 CVS and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, 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.