US Representatives, Industry Leaders and Nationally Renowned Physicians and Academic Experts Laud the Transformational Impact of SMART at Annual D.C. Symposium and Congressional Briefing

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US Representatives, Industry Leaders and Nationally Renowned Physicians and Academic Experts Laud the Transformational Impact of SMART at Annual D.C. Symposium and Congressional Briefing   

(Washington, D.C.)  The SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching All and Transforming Lives) Model’s Annual SMART Symposium took place last week in Washington, D.C., hosted by Ginn Group Collaborative (GGC), architect of the SMART Model, and sponsored by CVS Health (CVSH) and Aramark. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Resiliency as Transformational.”

On Wednesday, December 11, the symposium culminated with the 2019 Congressional and Industry Leaders’ Breakfast Panel at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, co-hosted by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7), Ginn Group Collaborative, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Sewell praised local leaders from the University of Alabama and from her district, in Pickens County, Alabama, as well as national SMART Model Architect, Melanie Ginn, and the generous funders from CVSH and Aramark for adapting the award-winning SMART Model to meet the needs of students in rural areas with such outstanding results.

“What I love about the SMART Model is that you are providing immediate assistance and help to students right where they study and right where they learn,” said Sewell.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) provided the closing remarks for the event and commended her constituents in the audience. She elaborated on her personal connections with the Chicago SMART Clinics, including at her alma mater, Sullivan High School, and at Gale Community Academy, where her mother was a teacher. “I know how much these services are needed, how beautifully they are delivered, and how much enthusiasm, participation, and buy-in there is,” said Schakowsky. “It’s really a brilliant model, and this is exactly the kind of thing we need more of,” she said.

This three-day, interdisciplinary, multi-sector professional development opportunity for the SMART Model’s medical and behavioral health providers and educational leaders from across the country aims to inspire the SMART Teams to continue the mission of screening and identifying barriers to academic success and maximizing conditions for optimal learning.

All the individuals implementing the Model were awarded full scholarships by CVSH and Aramark to attend both events to be edified in order to share best practices and create further innovation on the Model’s capacity to effect positive change in urban and rural school districts from grades PK–12 and in post-secondary arenas for vulnerable populations.

Keynote speakers for this year’s SMART Symposium included Allyson Mackey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who presented on the science of brain plasticity, building resiliency, and the conditions that allow a growth mindset to flourish.

Additional keynote speakers were: Michael Lawson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Alabama Department of Education; Gayle Jordan-Randolph, M.D., psychiatrist and faculty member at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine; and Derek Lavender, J.D., patent attorney and his wife, LeAnne Lavender, M.B.A., Director of Fundraising, MudLOVE, who together gave a personal reflection on resiliency and grit to underpin the symposium’s theme of “Resiliency as Transformational,” as a defining characteristic to model for students to fuel their success in the classroom and life.

Yale-trained physician, Dr. Garth Graham, President of the Aetna Foundation, made a special appearance to address the group on how “SMART Reimagined the Social Determinants of Health into the Health Determinants of Education.”

At the SMART Celebrations dinner following the symposium, the annual “Reaching All, Transforming Lives” awards were presented by SMART Model architect Melanie Ginn of (GGC) and David Casey, Vice President of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer of  CVSH, SMART Model Legacy Sponsor, and Karen Cutler, Vice President of Public Affairs at Aramark, to recognize leaders who have played a critical role in the success of the SMART Model. This year’s awardees were: Ernie DuPont, Senior Director of Workforce Initiatives, CVSH; Mary Crang, DNP, an original SMART Model collaborator and champion; Scott Ahlman, Principal, Hibbard Elementary School, Chicago; Sharon Davila, SMART Utilization Manager, Hibbard Elementary; Jackie Ader, Certified SMART LCSW at Gale Community Academy, Chicago; Jamie Chapman, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools, Alabama; Dr. Valerie Jackson, Principal, Reform Elementary School, Pickens County, Alabama; and Kim Taylor, SMART Utilization Manager, Pickens County, Alabama. The crystal awards are in the shape of an iceberg, which symbolizes the SMART Model’s “Whole Child, Whole School, Whole Community” approach to health care.

Wednesday’s prestigious congressional and industry leaders panel was moderated by Ernie DuPont, and the panelists were: David Casey; Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, former Vice President at Brown University, CEO of the LCLO group, and formative evaluator of the Model; Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, University of Alabama, Dean of the College of Education; Dr. Laurie Carrier, Chief Medical Officer, Heartland Health Centers; and Melissa Niven, Program Administrator for the Helping Families Initiative of the District Attorney’s Office of Jefferson County, Alabama.

To introduce and set the tone for the panel, President and CEO of GGC, Melanie Ginn, unveiled the SMART Chronicle: 6 years of SMART Model Impact, Data and Outcomes.

“The SMART Chronicle is a living document,” said Ginn. “Just since this went to press, the amazing stakeholders that are at the helm have already made a huge difference in the lives of more children and their families,” Ginn said.

SMART was developed in Chicago in 2013 with Melanie Ginn, President and CEO of GGC, as the chief architect and strategist, in collaboration with funding and thought leader partner CVSH with David Casey and Ernie DuPont. Additional new partners include Aramark, joining in 2018 with a 5-year commitment to fund infrastructure for expansion, the University of Alabama, and Certified SMART Medical Providers Heartland Health Centers and Pickens County Primary Care.

SMART Student Health and Wellness Centers are now serving a total of eight schools: four schools in the Rogers Park Neighborhood in Chicago, in partnership with medical provider Heartland Health Centers and four schools in Pickens County, Alabama with certified SMART Medical Provider Pickens County Primary Care, improving health and educational outcomes for thousands of students, school faculty, and families across diverse communities. According to data gathered using eTHOS, SMART’s U.S. patent pending Knowledge Management system, the rural flagship SMART Clinics in Pickens County have engaged with an average of 94% of the schools’ populations. Pickens County High School’s graduation rate was up 11% after year 1 SMART operations and Reform Elementary School’s chronic absenteeism dropped by 34% after year 1.


About Hispanic Heritage Foundation
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation promotes cultural pride, accomplishment, and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions. HHF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles with satellite workspaces in New York, Silicon Valley, San Antonio, and Miami (Visit Follow HHF on Facebook and Twitter.

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

This framework and Whole Child, Whole School approach immediately destigmatize the seeking and receipt of care for children and adults by inviting all in the building to trust and engage with the SMART Clinic staff. The SMART Model was developed in Chicago in 2013 with Ginn as the chief architect and strategist, in collaboration with funding and thought leader partner CVS Health. From this partnership, the National SMART Advisory Council has evolved to include Ernie DuPont, Senior Director of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health; David Casey, Vice President of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health; Jami Leveen, Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships, Aramark; Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; and Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, President and Founder at The LCLO Group—A Higher Education and Workforce Development Collaborative Firm. Learn more at