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Our Work School-Based Health Initiative

Improving health and academic outcomes for students

We created the School-Based Health Initiative in 2020 to support quality, convenient health care for students and their families in a safe, familiar place. The initiative works to improve health and academic outcomes for students by supporting new partnerships between schools and health care providers.

Untreated health issues create challenges for students in all areas of their lives, including the classroom. Untreated mental illness, dental infections, and medical illnesses such as asthma commonly cause excessive absences, classroom behavioral challenges, and poor academic performance. The ripple effect of these issues can extend into critical school metrics such as attendance and graduation rates. Addressing these health issues can help students reach their full academic potential and achieve greater personal success.

The School-Based Health Initiative provides grants to plan for and implement health centers in schools across Montana, offering a powerful way to address the health and behavioral challenges that keep students from succeeding in school. These services may be provided in the school building, through telehealth, or in a nearby mobile unit.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction is helping support the implementation of this initiative. More information on their role can be found in their grant summary.

Online Grantee Community

We committed $5 million over the next 10 years to create school-based health centers in communities that need them the most.

“I’m thankful we can offer services to students and their families. Not only it is convenient for most families, it also provides and opportunity for children to promptly receive health care services for issues that might otherwise be overlooked or delayed.” – Kelsey Torske, District Nurse Hardin Public Schools

Funding Opportunity

About the Opportunity

This initiative provides funding for health care providers to partner with schools to plan for and implement school-based health centers. Funding will assist with planning, start-up costs, initial staffing, convening, technical assistance, data collection, and evaluation support. Funding is available for planning and implementation projects. Grant applications are by invitation only.

Selection Criteria

Federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, and Tribal health departments are eligible for funding under this initiative.

The partnering schools that this initiative will target fall into one of the categories below, including:

  • Schools identified as “comprehensive” schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act
  • Alternative high schools
  • Schools identified as “targeted” schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act and in which 70% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch
  • Schools that serve a large number of students with complex needs based on school-level Youth Risk Behavioral Survey or any other school-level specific data or 70% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and there is evidence of complex health needs

In addition to meeting our standard selection criteria, invited grant applications for this initiative will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • A commitment to the grant project by health care partner leadership
  • A formal commitment from the school partner with an accompanying letter of support
  • Active participation with technical assistance providers, including the Montana Healthcare Foundation, the Montana Office of Public Instruction, and the School-Based Health Alliance


Need assistance?

Email Kelsey Gummer
Program Officer