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Apply to Join Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools

Evidence is mounting that kids who eat well and are active do better in school. Would you like to create an environment at your school that supports and encourages healthy eating and physical activity? Could your students benefit from learning how to make healthy choices?

A partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the University of Michigan called Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools provides an opportunity for middle schools to participate in the program while building an environment for long-term sustainability.


Read our press release

Michigan schools are encouraged to apply for Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program.  Components of the program include mental health resources for children facing trauma, and addressing absenteeism.  All public, charter, and nonprofit private middle schools are invited to apply!  Click the button below to read the press release.

Read the full program description

The Building Healthy Communities program is a collaborative partnership that works to promote healthy school environments in schools across Michigan. For more than a decade, the partnership has encouraged children and families to be active and eat healthy – and in doing so has reduced childhood obesity and increased school performance.  Click below to download our full program description PDF.

Program Responsibilities


The role of the administrator (principal or assistant principal):

  • Attend an on-site 1-2 hour program orientation.
  • Support the implementation and sustainability of all Project Healthy Schools components (assessment education, environment, measurement).
  • Participate on the school’s wellness team by attending meetings and supporting initiatives.
  • Communicate efficiently with the Project Healthy Schools coordinator and wellness champion to ensure timely delivery of program components.
  • Promote Project Healthy Schools throughout the school community (ex: district administration meetings, website, social media, school newsletter, principal blog, back to school assemblies, staff meetings, etc.).
  • Notify PHS if there are any staff changes at the school that will affect the implementation of Project Healthy Schools.

School Wellness Champion

Each school must designate 1-2 people to serve as wellness champion(s) to lead the school wellness team and school community in the successful implementation and sustainability of the Project Healthy Schools program. A stipend will be provided to reimburse the wellness champion(s) for their time.  A wellness champion is a selected staff member who has strong leadership potential and the capacity to build support for the program within the school community. They also should be organized, responsive, highly motivated and passionate about health and wellness.

The wellness champion will attend a two hour on-site program orientation with their wellness team and will assist their Project Healthy Schools coordinator with the following duties in year one and will transition to carrying out these duties on with the support of their school wellness team by the end of the first year:

  • Leading your school through an annual 5-Step approach to school wellness (as outlined in the program description).
  • Scheduling the lessons, teacher training, and other logistics as needed. The wellness champion will also help maintain and organize Project Healthy Schools props and make sure lesson supplies (food items, forks, etc.) are prepared.
  • Communicating Project Healthy Schools wellness messages to students, staff and families.
  • Sharing program updates with the Project Healthy Schools and the network of wellness champions.
  • Participating on the school wellness team and taking a leadership role as needed; also ensuring that the team works on a sustainability plan for future years to provide Project Healthy Schools lesson disposable items and secure materials needed for the program after the first year.
  • Organizing policy, systems, and environmental change initiatives and programs leading to a healthier school environment.
  • With guidance from your Project Healthy Schools coordinator, documenting program progress by submitting photos, quotes, success stories, and tracking program completion on the Project Healthy Schools Portal.

School Wellness Team

A school wellness team is a group of people (students, staff, administrators, food service staff, parents, community members, etc.) with the common interest in creating a healthier school environment. The wellness team, with assistance from the Project Healthy Schools coordinator, will assess the school’s strengths, identify opportunities to enhance the healthy school environment and create an action plan. This team will be responsible for sustaining the program after the first year.

  • PHS schools will be responsible for identifying school wellness team members before Project Healthy Schools begins and for arranging the first meeting which will include the PHS program orientation.
  • School wellness teams are required to host a minimum of four meetings per school year.
  • School wellness team members are encouraged to support the Wellness Champion in completing all required PHS assessments.

School Food Service

In partnership with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), food service directors of participating schools will schedule time to meet with UDIM and PHS to assess the school’s lunchroom and nutrition environment. This partnership is intended to assist in the promotion of healthy food and beverage options, and, where possible, help incorporate local produce/farm-to-school initiatives and offer opportunities for student feedback on school meals.

PHS Health Education Lessons

School Responsibilities:

  • Identify a class within each grade level where the PHS lessons will be taught.
    • It is strongly encouraged that the lessons are taught during health or a core academic class. Physical Education class should be considered a “last resort” so we do not take away from physical activity time during the school day.
  • Identify teacher(s) to teach the lessons
  • Schedule time for the teacher(s) to be trained by PHS (two hours of training).
  • Implement both pre- and post-student health behavior questionnaires (HBQs).
  • Identify space to store the provided lesson props and materials.
  • Teach all 10 PHS lessons in order, on a timeline approved by their PHS Wellness Coordinator.
  • Administer the PHS post-lesson student survey.

Social Emotional Health Instruction

School Responsibilities:

  • Identify a class within each grade level where they will teach the Social Emotional Health curriculum provided by the Michigan Model for Health™ (MMH).
  • Identify teacher(s) to teach the SEL lessons.
  • Participating teachers will receive training prior to lesson implementation.
  • If schools are currently implementing a comprehensive SEL curriculum, they will need to provide proof of implementation and will be waived from MMH training. 

Upon award selection, schools will need to provide signatures of all school contacts participating in program implementation.

Watch our Program Overview Webinar!

Welcome to the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools webinar. During this introduction, staff from Project Healthy Schools (PHS) will provide a detailed program description including: 1) how PHS is improving the health and academic performance of students at no cost to participating schools, 2) resources, funding, and support provided by the BHC program partners, and 3) discuss expectations of participating schools. Staff will also discuss this year’s application process, including deadlines and application tips!

Frequently Asked Questions

A successful wellness champion is a certified staff person at the school who has strong leadership potential, can effectively utilize data to inform decisions, is organized, responsive, has good follow through and has the capacity to build support for the program within the school and community.  It is also important that your wellness champion(s) be passionate about health and have a strong commitment to improving the wellness of staff and students within the school.  The wellness champion will also be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the curriculum.

It is our goal to involve as many schools as possible. Therefore, schools that were awarded another Building Healthy Communities program (Step Up for School Wellness, Elementary school program), or previously implemented Project Healthy Schools, are not eligible to receive this award. We do, however, encourage middle schools in the same district as a school that already has Project Healthy Schools to apply.

No. Our goal is to include schools with a variety of experience related to wellness programs and grants.  Schools that already have a wellness team and/or participate in other programs, such as Fuel Up to Play 60, are encouraged to apply, as well as those that have not been involved in wellness programs or grants.

School selection is based on several components, including:  1) level of commitment from school administration and staff to fully implement and sustain the Project Healthy Schools program beyond year one (including completion of the Healthy School Action Tools — Core Assessment and the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity topic area assessments); 2) placement of the Project Healthy Schools lessons into the students’ school day (preference is for schools where the lessons will be taught in physical education, health, or a core class of at least 45 minutes); 3) placement of the 20 TRAILS SEL 30-minute lessons within each grade level offered within the school, 4) establishment of a school wellness team (functioning or identified) that is comprised of a variety of school/community members; 5) commitment to implementing policy, systems and/or changes to the physical school environment to support health and wellness; and 6) a complete application and participation in a follow-up interview. 

Schools will be informed of their selection status via an email message to the principal, wellness champion(s), and to the person that completed the application.

Three program requirements must be completed prior to program implementation: 1) the principal/administer overseeing the program and the staff member(s) selected to be the Wellness Champion(s) must participate in a school site or remote visit by a Project Healthy Schools wellness coordinator for a two-hour orientation; 2) begin recruiting members form the school community to form a school wellness team, if you don’t already have one; and 3) complete the Core/Healthy Eating/Physical Activity Assessments from the Healthy School Action Tools (HSAT: prior to the orientation. Mandatory attendance is required from the Principal/Administrator overseeing the program and the staff member(s) selected to be the Wellness Champion(s) during the two-hour orientation.   Please also visit our website at to find more information.

No. You will be assigned a Project Healthy Schools wellness coordinator who will work with school staff by providing on-site/remote support to implement the program in your school. This coordinator and other Project Healthy Schools staff will be responsible for purchasing items that are needed for the program and other school wellness activities, as agreed upon by the school and approved by the wellness coordinator.

Yes, the wellness champion(s) will be trained on reporting requirements for the Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools program. These items may include program updates, photos, quotes and success stories that will be recorded and submitted via the online Project Healthy Schools Portal.  Also submit stories to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services supported success story tool at:

TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students) is a University of Michigan program on a mission to bring effective mental health care to all students.  As part of the Project Healthy Schools program, you will have access to the TRAILS Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum and support from TRIALS clinical experts.  The SEL curriculum equips classroom teachers across each grade level to deliver 20 developmentally appropriate, brief lessons, aligned with Michigan’s focus on student safety, health, and wellness.  Research shows that implementation of SEL is associated with increases in students’ academic achievement, test scores, self-regulation skills, and overall wellness; and decreases in classroom behavior problems.  SEL also helps prevent student stress, depression, and anxiety.  The TRAILS SEL lessons can be delivered in person or remotely, and cover the 5 SEL Competencies identified by the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision-making, Relationship Skills, Social Awareness.  For more information on TRAILS, visit:

Upon being awarded the program, the expectation is that the program continue year after year within the school by continuing to provide the Project Healthy Schools curriculum, annual assessment of the wellness environment, and using the assessment data to identify wellness goals and an action plan which drive environmental changes related to student and staff health/wellness.  The program is run with regular, on-site and remote staff support at your school from a Project Healthy Schools coordinator for the first school year.  Beyond the first year of programming, the Project Healthy Schools coordinator will continue to be available as a resource, by phone, email and occasional on-site or remote visits. Your school will remain an integral part of the Project Healthy School’s network.  Your Project Healthy Schools coordinator will work with your school on a long-term plan for sustainability. Project Healthy Schools strives to create sustainable programming that leads to meaningful change over time.

Complete your application at: 

  • If you are unable to complete the application online, you may type up your answers to the questions in an email and send them to:

For questions, contact the program manager, Dr. Melissa Boguslawski, at

Before filling out the application

Provide your team with copies of the Request for Applications with enough time to review it so all team members will understand their program responsibilities. This is a comprehensive program that requires the engagement of the principal, teachers, wellness champion(s), food service director and wellness team members.

Tips for creating a competitive application

  • Write brief, clear responses.
  • Do not leave any items blank; use “N/A” if the question does not apply to you. Do not provide information that is not requested.
  • After you finish your application, review it to make sure that all items are answered. Have someone else read your responses to make sure they are understandable to someone that is not familiar with your school, programs, or staff.
  • Identify a health, physical education, or core curricular class (minimum of 45 minutes) to deliver the 10 Project Healthy Schools health education lessons to all fifth-, sixth, or seventh-grade students. Other classes such as an advisory or a homeroom period are not encouraged.
  • Identify a class within each grade level for all students to receive the 20, 30-minute SEL lessons.  
  • Identify wellness team members on the application to show that your school has the support it needs to be successful. Wellness teams can vary by school and can include representation from staff, administrators, food service, students, parents and other community members. This is a comprehensive program that requires the collaboration of the entire school community.
  • Demonstrate the principal’s/administrator’s level of support and commitment to successfully implementing and sustaining the program and highlight the wellness champion’s enthusiasm and ability to engage others in the health and wellness mission during your interview.

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