We Started by Doing Our Homework… Literally
Our founder and CEO, Scott Turner, went back to graduate school part-time in 2007 to earn a PhD, as part of transitioning from the business world to give back to society. This helped prepare for work in policy-making, education, and public health, including effectively utilizing research studies and data.
Scott conducted dissertation research on physical activity, nutrition education, and child obesity prevention in Phoenix metro area schools in 2011-2012. This confirmed that excellent program interventions can have major short-term impact. But without a more long-term systemic approach, initial impact fades over time.
He also began assisting Arizona health & education nonprofits starting in 2010, in affiliation with Social Venture Partners. Working with nonprofits also helped to better understand the situation in Arizona, and both the potential and the limitations of traditional nonprofit approaches.
We then met with many state leader stakeholders from all sectors: state board of education & school district board members, school district superintendents & principals, charter school leaders; physical education, health education, & other teachers; AHCCCS & private health plans; hospitals and health care providers; legislators & legislative staff; the governor & governor’s office advisors; state & county government agencies; employers, business & economic development leaders; foundations; health & education foundations & nonprofits; university professors & researchers; and many others:
Many of the leaders and organizations we met with joined our Healthy Future Arizona coalition.
Virtually everyone we met with was concerned about the health situation. But no comprehensive strategy existed for change. No one had figured out how to “move the needle,” and sustainably reverse the root causes of widespread inactivity & unhealthy nutrition.
Without a new approach, an unhealthy future loomed—dominated by pervasive diabetes, heart disease, obesity & obesity-related cancer, and other chronic diseases—and with ever-increasing health costs & fiscal problems.
During those years of networking and laying groundwork, in addition to starting to develop a coalition, we identified two ground-breaking programs worth scaling statewide: the Empower Youth Health Program and Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Fit Kids of Northern Arizona.
We had also been told by a number of school district superintendents, that changing the state’s A-F school accountability system for their schools was critical. So we joined a major State Board of Education (SBE) rule-making process in September 2016. When we started, we had the support of 2 or 3 out of 13 Committee members. In January 2017, we won a key Committee vote. In April 2017, the State Board unanimously approved a resolution, which included adding physical, health & arts education to the state A-F school accountability system. We now have a statewide A-F Workgroup, composed of teachers, school administrators, health nonprofits, & others. We are piloting and working out the future statewide implementation plan, for the next stage of SBE approval.
We were still immersed in the A-F rule-making, when a bill was introduced by a state legislator in 2017 to require 50 minutes of unstructured recess daily, for grades K-5. We began working with Arizonans for Recess to help pass this bill. Neither of our organizations had been consulted ahead of time, and we felt the bill was too ambitious for the legislature. We eventually worked out a compromise to mandate two daily recesses for virtually all K-5 district and charter school students, but without specifying the number of minutes or the type of recess. This bill passed during the next legislative session with >90% support, and was signed by the governor in April 2018.
For more information on our policy work, please go to the Policies page.
We are now working to further increase our impact, by developing the capacity of the Healthy Future US organization. Now that we have figured out, which scalable, highly effective, evidence-based programs to use, how to do so at very low cost, and how that investment will pay for itself & therefore become self-sustaining—it is now time to scale.
To do this, we need to partner financially with a number of individuals and organizations—particularly impact-oriented philanthropists and those who will benefit from lower health costs. For information on investing in/donating to Healthy Future US, please visit our Invest page.
Please see our latest slide deck for more details.