National SMART Advisory Council Leaders and Funders from CVS Health, Aramark Hosted by University of Alabama College of Education and Tour SMART Student Health and Wellness Centers in Pickens County

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National SMART Advisory Council Leaders and Funders from CVS Health, Aramark Hosted by University of Alabama College of Education and Tour SMART Student Health and Wellness Centers in Pickens County
Chronic Absenteeism Drops 55% After Only 6 Months of SMART Opening

Pictured from left to right: Karl Hamner, PhD; Faron Hollinger, PhD; Peter Hlebowitsh, PhD; Yolima Moncada, DNP; Melanie Ginn; David Casey; Antonio Tijerino; and Jami Leveen at University of Alabama’s Carmichael Hall.

(Pickens County, Alabama) The National SMART Advisory Council arrived in Pickens County Alabama for their first site visit to two new, rural Flagship SMART Clinics at Reform Elementary School (RES) and Pickens County High School (PCHS) on Friday, March 22, 2019. Council members included: David Casey, Vice President of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health; Jami Leveen, Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships, Aramark; Melanie Ginn, President and CEO of Ginn Group Collaborative (GGC); and Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. The visit was co-hosted by Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, Dean at University of Alabama College of Education; Dr. Karl Hamner, Director, Office of Evaluation, University of Alabama College of Education; and Dr. Faron Hollinger, President and CEO of the Akribos Group.

The Council’s site visit was punctuated by a new report card released by GGC, the architect of the SMART Student Health Model. The latest metrics show the extraordinary impact that the SMART Clinics are having on academic and health metrics for both RES and PCHS after only 6 months of operation. The powerful impact of the clinics’ role in both schools includes a 55% drop in chronic absenteeism at RES and a 28% drop in absenteeism at PCHS. Additionally, both Clinics have engaged with 99% of the consented students by utilizing the SMART Model’s signature Active Access to Active Care, practice. Both schools opened new, rural flagship SMART sites at the start of the 2018–2019 school year.

After touring both RES and PCHS SMART Clinics, meeting with students, staff, faculty, the principals, Superintendent Jamie Chapman, and Dr. Julia Boothe, Founder of Pickens Country Primary Care, SMART’s Medical Provider Partner in Alabama, Ginn, presented a “State of SMART” address and luncheon to the Council and distinguished guests at the University of Alabama’s Carmichael Hall.

“To successfully deliver SMART to areas where it is most needed, it is crucial to examine the unique challenges faced in our expansion from urban to rural areas,” said Ginn.

This was the first time many of the stakeholders had seen the Alabama SMART Clinics in operation, and the experience made a profound impression on them, reinforcing their continued support of the Model.

Casey, of CVSH, also noted the power of putting faces with the numbers. “SMART is something I hold near and dear to my heart and it just makes sense. It’s natural for us at CVS Health to support it. It sits at the intersection of health education and workforce. They are not mutually exclusive, and any employer, any organization that needs great people, needs to be concerned about that triad. I was very impressed with what I saw today. I had seen the stats, but it’s always different when you go and see it for yourself and meet the folks on the ground.”

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s mission has been expanded thanks to the SMART Model,” said Tijerino. “Education and workforce development are cornerstones of our work across the U.S. and neither are possible without overall health as well as economic impact, in both urban and rural environments. The visit to the SMART Clinic in Alabama was very powerful for us and the other partners because it demonstrated the effective adaptability of the SMART Model and the immediate impact being made not just on the schools but on the entire region.  It was also clear that American families, teachers and children have the same needs, concerns, and priorities across the country that the SMART Model is addressing.”

Leveen of Aramark agreed saying, “Seeing it live and hearing from the people that are the most directly connected and impacted by it was the most powerful part.”

GGC led the implementation of the new, rural flagship clinic in August 2018 with support from the University of Alabama and a significant financial commitment from CVSH. The collaborative then worked with the Pickens County School Board and District, and were pleased to name highly respected Pickens County Primary Care, owned by Dr. Julia Boothe, as their medical provider partner.

Multiple parties are working together toward the goal of sustaining SMART Student Health and Wellness Centers as lasting partners within these schools with next steps involving direct communication with the State of Alabama Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey and his Chief of Staff, Dr. Jeffrey Langham.

SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching ALL Transforming Lives) is a school health solution dedicated to improving academic achievement in order to break the cycle of poverty, creating a new, antecedent component on the health care continuum with Active Access and Active Care. The award-winning public-private partnership that fuels the SMART Student Health and Wellness Model is revolutionizing the education sector’s advocacy in integrating physical, behavioral, social and emotional interventions as a normative partner to health care in public schools. This best practice Model is being successfully operated in selected urban and rural regions, including Chicago and rural Alabama, with plans to expand to other cities over the next 5 years including Cleveland and Philadelphia.

SMART was developed in Chicago in 2013, and the flagship SMART Center at Sullivan High School has now entered its sixth year of operation. There, the Model has a tremendous track record of routinely consenting an average of 98% of the student population and providing care for 100% of those students, thus significantly increasing attendance by 3–4%, a significant movement by educational standards, and improving the school’s academic metrics and rating, all at lower operational costs than traditional models.  Active Care, a key component of the SMART Model, is deployed via Active Access, a dramatically changed capacity for impact, routinely reaching 95–98% of students, without increasing net costs.


About Ginn Group Collaborative

Ginn Group Collaborative (GGC), led by President and CEO Melanie Ginn, is a nationally recognized design management firm with a proven track record in delivering exceptional outcomes and incisive analysis for clients. GGC brings objective and insightful perspective and expertise to review, research, develop, and deliver advanced business and legal analysis, strategies, and solutions. Learn more at