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RIDE Announces Innovative Wellness Clinics for Three Providence Schools

Collaboration with CVS Health Foundation, Partnership for Rhode Island, The Papitto Foundation & Rhode Island Foundation to Bring Nationally Recognized SMART Model to PPSD


PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) – in collaboration with the CVS Health Foundation, Partnership for Rhode Island, The Papitto Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation – is bringing the nationally recognized SMART Student Health and Wellness Model to the Providence Public School District (PPSD). Roger Williams Middle School and Mount Pleasant High School have been selected to open as flagship sites for the SMART Clinics in early 2021, with a third school to be selected.

“Supporting the health of our students and our entire school community can be a powerful change in Providence and a much-needed resource for our families,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “When we heard the story of SMART’s impact in other schools and communities across the country, we immediately knew it could make a real difference for the students, staff, and families of Providence.”

Ginn Group Consulting (GGC), the SMART Model’s Architect and Implementation Team, began planning for customization and adaptation of the Model months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with the goal of supporting classroom success by identifying and meeting students’ physical and behavioral wellness needs. The Providence Community Health Centers, the state’s largest health center network, is partnering with SMART to provide the clinical and support staff who will work in the schools to deliver care to students. Establishment of the two flagship clinics is being privately funded by the Partnership for Rhode Island and CVS Health Foundation, with fiscal agency support from the Rhode Island Foundation. The Papitto Foundation will be supporting the third clinic.

“The Partnership is thrilled to bring the SMART Health Model to Providence,” said Tom Giordano, Executive Director, Partnership for Rhode Island. “By making our teachers, staff, students, and their families healthier and ready to excel, we are investing in the future of an entire community. We are so excited to open these two clinics and for a third to begin its process of finding a home. There is no better investment than in health, wellness, and education results.”

The initial philanthropic investment of up to $2 million will cover the due diligence, system analysis, business planning, and implementation management, as well as the capital facilities and operational costs, for the initial cohort of flagship SMART Clinics. The SMART Model will support the Turnaround Action Plan for the Providence schools as part of its “Engaged Communities” and “Excellence in Learning” pillars.

“SMART focuses on ‘Reaching ALL, to ensure the wellness of all students.’ With students and teachers returning to school after a period of unprecedented disruption, the SMART Model’s capacity to positively impact health and academics is more imperative now than ever. We are very honored to be working in support of Providence students, families, and schools,” said Melanie Ginn, President and CEO of GGC.

“We know how critical it is to ensure that all youth in the communities we serve have access to health care as a path to academic success,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President of the CVS Health Foundation. “This model is a proven approach to improving a student’s health and academic success, as well as delivering benefits school-wide, to students’ families, and the community at large. We are excited to see the impact this program will have on schools in our home state of Rhode Island.”

“Just as we know that kids who read, succeed, we know equally as well that students who are healthy in body and mind are more engaged in the classroom and more likely to be on a path to graduation,” said Barbara Papitto, Chair of The Papitto Foundation. “Children shouldn’t have to worry about not feeling well or going to school sick. By making this investment in the health and wellness of children in Providence, we hope to make it easier for them to focus on achieving their dreams – whether that’s going to college or, perhaps, starting a business.”

“We’re grateful to the many donors who have stepped forward to support this innovative approach to providing access to head-to-toe health care services to Providence families,” said Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Every student deserves an opportunity to reach his or her full potential. Providing ready access to the things that will keep kids well – healthy meals, needed medical and behavioral health care, and more – is an important part of closing education achievement gaps and supporting educators within the public school system as they help their students navigate all aspects of life.”

Due to this year’s unique circumstances, the flagship clinics’ openings will be phased in over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, adapting and flexing with the needs and capacity onsite at the schools – a hallmark of the SMART Model approach. The SMART Clinics, which will be staffed with a team of at least five health professionals from the Providence Community Health Centers, will include medical and behavioral health clinicians who can diagnose, treat, and prescribe, as needed, for routine illness or injuries onsite for all students and staff in the school.

What sets the model apart is its emphasis on student, family, and faculty wellness and prevention, and a relationally based Whole Child 360 approach that is focused on classroom success as a primary indicator for long-term socioeconomic outcomes and equity. The Providence Community Health Centers was selected as the medical provider partner for the initial clinics to implement this model due to its leadership’s vision, capacity for innovation, and organizational expertise.

SMART consistently reaches 95-100 percent of students in a given school building, delivering improved health outcomes and attendance – thus increasing academic performance – and doing so at a low cost per student. SMART has also been recognized for its focus on restructuring the traditional primary care approaches that, when simply placed within schools, have often proved unsuccessful, making the SMART Model the most effective and financially sustainable as a legacy asset embedded in the school over the long term.

SMART was developed in Chicago in 2013 with Melanie Ginn as the Chief Architect and Strategist, in collaboration with funding and thought leader partner CVS Health. Additional partners include Aramark, joining in 2018 with a 5-year commitment to fund infrastructure for expansion, and the University of Alabama.