Administrators LEAD & MANAGE MY SCHOOL
Healthy Students, Promising Futures
State and Local Action Steps and Practices to Improve School-Based Health

High-Impact Opportunity #5
Build Local Partnerships and Participate in Hospital Community Needs Assessments.


Hospital community benefits include initiatives and activities undertaken by nonprofit hospitals to improve health in the communities they serve. Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals claiming 501(c)(3) charitable, tax-exempt status must conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) at least every three years (beginning in 2012/2013) and adopt strategies to address prioritized needs. Hospital CHNAs can help launch productive partnerships between hospitals and schools because nonprofit hospitals are required to consult with community members and public health experts as part of the CHNA process. Schools and school districts can also partner with many other kinds of community-based organizations to enrich the health services available to students.

Research Shows

A growing body of evidence and experience suggests that multi-organizational partnerships are promising mechanisms for improving public health.


School districts can meet with community benefit staff in local tax-exempt hospitals to learn how the needs assessment is conducted and how they can become part of the process. Hospital and school administrators—as well as parents, teachers, and other members of the community—can work together with hospitals to identify investments that can improve school health and educational outcomes in the targeted service area of the hospital.


The Community Health Network (CHN) in Indiana has established school health services in over 100 schools in Indianapolis. Students can access a range of mental health and health services, from immunizations and treatment for minor illnesses to primary care at some locations. Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston provides programs to help build science and literacy skills through Brigham Book Buddies, Pen Pal Program, and an interactive Science Club for elementary school students. As part of its mission to diversify the future health care workforce, BWH's Student Success Jobs Program employs and mentors Boston Public School high school students to introduce them to careers in health care, science, and medicine. These programs are made possible through the involvement of hundreds of committed employee volunteers.

The Missing School Matters campaign is another example of the ability of local partnerships to achieve change. At the request of 12 partnering Central Texas school district superintendents, the E3 (Education Equals Economics) Alliance in Austin, TX, launched a campaign in 2011 to improve student attendance, in order to increase student achievement and to return more revenue to schools, which are funded based on daily attendance. To provide data on which students are most frequently absent—as well as why, when and where—E3 Alliance designed and executed a ground-breaking Absence Reasons Study in 2013 funded by St. David's Foundation and Central Health. The study found that the single largest reported cause of Central Texas student absences (48 percent) is acute illness and that addressing causes of preventable illness would have the greatest potential impact on absenteeism. In 2014, with the support of partners such as St. David's Foundation, Healthy Schools LLC, and Schoolhouse Pediatrics, E3 Alliance brought flu vaccines at no cost to more than 6,500 students in 56 elementary schools—the largest in-school flu immunization campaign in the history of the state of Texas. In 2015, the campaign will be quadrupled, to 26,000 students in 136 schools. Since E3 Alliance launched Missing School Matters, over $20 million has been returned to Central Texas schools because total student absences have dropped while overall enrollment rapidly increased for the first time in two decades.


  1. Mays, G.P., and F.D. Scutchfield. (2010). Improving Public Health System Performance through Multiorganizational Partnerships. Prev Chronic Dis 7(6): A116.

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Last Modified: 07/26/2016