Overview: Healthy Students Healthy State

How to ensure a healthier future for all…by starting with students

Healthy Students Healthy State develops students’ physical and mental health—by finally connecting the programmatic, policy & financial dots, at the state, local & federal levels—to sustainably fund more & better school health & wellness.

At the school level, this includes quality accountable: local school wellness policy plans, physical & health education, school counseling & nursing, school-community partnerships, and other key components, which together develop K-12 students’ health & wellness and healthier habits for life.

Under Healthy Students Healthy State, state legislatures, the federal government (primarily Medicaid), and private health plans (insurers & self-insured major employers) co-invest each year, paying roughly 1/3 each.

See our Plans, Policies, Programs, & ROI/Payback webpages for more details.

Done & Next graphic

Stakeholders: >10x ROI

Each of these large stakeholder groups saves an ever-increasing amount in lower health costs, as healthier students become healthier adults. (And in the case of the state & employers, they gain higher tax revenue & higher profits from higher productivity, too.)

Benefits begin immediately during K-12, when up to half of these co-investments are paid back. (Parental & family components may accelerate these savings significantly.) Savings continue medium-term in young adulthood, when costs are fully paid back. The ROI for each stakeholder group exceeds 10x.

Compare the below financial benefits, to the cost per stakeholder group of $170M/year, totaling $500M/year in investment in Healthy Students Healthy State.

Annual savings graphic

Philanthropists: 1000x ROI

BTW: the ROI for philanthropists investing in capacity-building grants in Healthy Future US itself is even greater: over 1000x. This is because investing $1.5M/year in our organization leads to $500M/year in new money into schools—which in turn leads to $10B+ in medical savings and higher GDP. $1.5M/yr leading to $10B/yr exceeds 1000x ROI. The amount which needs to be invested in each state will vary, but relative returns should exceed 1000x in each case.

Philanthropic impact graphic


We need to be brutally honest. Decades of attempts and research prove that only a small percentage of adults are able to permanently change the unhealthy lifestyle causing their chronic health conditions.

As a society, we missed our opportunity in childhood, when these habits are formed—when kids are very open to change—and when bad habits could have been moderated or completely prevented during their 13 years in K-12 schools.

Instead, we end up relying on lifelong drug prescriptions, with frequent medical supervision, to cope with the ever-worsening chronic consequences of inactivity, unhealthy nutrition and toxic stress. We spend a tiny fraction of health care on prevention, with just 3% of health spending on public health. According to the CDC, 90% of US health care spending is for the 60% of people with chronic disease. 50% of adults have multiple conditions already in middle-age! Chronic conditions cause at least 80% of Medicaid spending.

But by investing in K-12 just 1% of what we are spending on health care, we can reduce chronic disease & associated costs by up to 50%.   <link to ROI/Payback>

New “Miracle Drugs” Semaglutide (Wegovy) & Tirzepatide

The Good News:  You can lose 10-20+% of your weight in 1-2 years with a weekly injection (soon to be pills)—in some cases even reversing Type 2 diabetes.

The Bad News:   You need to take this drug for the rest of your life @$500-1000/month to keep the weight off—and the long-term risk is uncertain.

To be fair: if it was easy to “fix” the chronic disease epidemic, it would have been done already.

The education and health sectors are siloed and have radically different goals.

  • Educators are overwhelmingly incentivized to maximize reading, writing and math standardized test scores.
  • Health care providers are overwhelmingly incentivized to manage diseases, not to keep people from getting them in the first place.

But there is a growing opening for a win-win:

  • Education leaders recognize that physical & mental health affect academic achievement—and they do care about preparing kids to become successful in life including with their health—not just with success in testing.
  • Health leaders are increasingly under pressure to reduce the growth in health care costs—including by keeping people healthier, not just receiving fees for disease management services.
  • Employers & families are paying ever-increasing amounts for health insurance & care—which limits employee salary increases and disposable income, and is creating increasing financial pressure on family budgets.

Healthy Future US is bringing together a “win-win-win+” group of philanthropic, state, federal, and private stakeholder groups to invest in sustainably high-ROI, evidence-based, K-12 strategies, in order to improve child health and reduce current & future health costs.

By explaining and implementing the synergistic benefits for all, Healthy Future US is uniquely positioned to continue successfully leading this work.

Win-Win-Win-Win…Win:  Emerging Prevention Coalition

merging Prevention Coalition graphic