Home » Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) Awards $1 Million In Grants To Schools To Fight Childhood Obesity

Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) Awards $1 Million In Grants To Schools To Fight Childhood Obesity

$1,000 grants for 1,000 schools for activity programs is part of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative


On June 27, 2013, the Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) named 1,000  elementary schools in all 50 states as recipients of a $1,000 ASAP Acceleration Grant to help them implement in September three new activity programs designed to fight childhood obesity:

  • The 100 Mile Club presents elementary school students with a straightforward challenge: run, jog, or walk 100 miles over the course of the school year. Students log miles during designated running time at school, during recess, and at sanctioned community events;
  • BOKS is a before-school program featuring structured group play emphasizing aerobic exertion, fun, and team spirit.Group of elementary school kids stretching
  • Just Move is a classroom-based activity program designed to get students up and active right at their desks. Developed in space-constrained New York City, the program demonstrates that even without a gymnasium or outdoor play space, a school can become an active school. 

As the third initiative in First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move! Active Schools" initiative, each of the 1,000 schools will replicate one of these three exemplary program models - winning entries in ASAP's 2012 Physical Activity Innovation Competition - with ASAP providing programmatic materials, technical support, and a $1,000 financial kick-start to launch their chosen program during the 2013/14 school year. That's a total of $1 million in micro-grants to advance in-school physical activity and innovation!

Active Schools Acceleration Project

The Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) is an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization committed to cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. ASAP seeks to increase quality physical activity in schools as a means to promote healthy, active living and to evoke the beneficial behavioral and academic outcomes that follow.

ASAP has set out to uncover the very best ways schools are getting children active, and amplify that great work by equipping new schools with everything they need to replicate proven models. It is ASAP's vision that all schools recognize the profound benefits physical activity can play in fostering educational excellence.

Launched in 2012 with the help of First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her  "Let's Move! Active Schools" campaign, a collaborative, cross-sector effort to boost physical activity in our nation's schools, the ASAP Innovation Competition was designed to identify and reward the most creative, impactful, and scalable school-based programs and technological innovations that promote physical activity for children.

More than 500 entries were received from all 50 states collectively representing 2500 schools. With funding from a consortium of the nation's leading health plans, ASAP awarded $500,000 to nine winners from around the country. Ranging from grassroots efforts in a single school, to robust programs deployed in 100+ school sites, the winners represent an array of solutions applicable to schools of all types, sizes, and geographies. Video profiles of winning programs may be viewed on ASAP's website.

Now, with ASAP's Acceleration Grants program, 1,000 new schools will be equipped with the resources they need - seed funding, curriculum packages, and training - to replicate one of these proven models. ASAP Acceleration Grants are designed to elevate and celebrate ‘champions' who can successfully bring one of these programs to their own school.

"ASAP's Acceleration Grants program takes innovative and scalable programs and makes them available to schools nationwide with seed funding, training, and support," says Christina D. Economos, PhD, Vice-Chair and Director of ChildObesity180, Associate Professor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and a leading researcher in the field of childhood obesity prevention.

The private sector is stepping up to play a lead role. Lead funding for ASAP Acceleration Grants has been provided by the Cigna Foundation with additional funding provided by Kaiser Permanente. According to David Cordani, President and CEO of Cigna Corporation and a Charter Member of ChildObesity180, "Cigna is committed to investing in effective programs such as ChildObesity180 to provide children with a foundation for a lifetime of health. We are proud to support this campaign and are committed to making meaningful change."

Why Active Schools?

According to the CDC, child obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2010 more than one third of children were found to be overweight or obese.  Here are the facts about the benefits of physical activity and the risks associated with inactivity:

  • Kids today are the most inactive generation in America's history. (1)
  • As children enter adolescence, physical activity declines precipitously. (2)
  • Studies indicate that active students do better than their more sedentary peers. Regular physical activity has been shown to increase concentration and attention, improve attendance, and increase academic performance.(3,4, 13) Physically active lifestyles also lead to lower rates of childhood obesity and related conditions.(5,6,13)
  • Kids need 60 minutes of daily activity to be strong and healthy. (5) Kids spend a significant portion of their day in school, so it is critical that we all work together to help schools become hubs for quality physical activity. (6)
  • Yet, schools across the country are struggling to integrate physical activity into the school day. Today, only about 4% of elementary schools offer daily P.E. and only 9 states require recess in elementary schools. (6-8) 
  • Physical inactivity puts kids at greater risk for obesity, diabetes, and other conditions that can last a lifetime.(5) 
  • Recognizing the severity of the issue and the opportunity for change, groups across the government, public and private sectors are teaming up to support the efforts of administrators, teachers and parents to help bring physical activity back into America's schools.

Childhood Obesity

  • As a result of obesity, the current generation, for the first time in the nation's history, may live shorter lives than their parents.
  • In 2009-2010, 31.8% of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 were overweight, and another 16.9% were obese. (10) 
  • Disparities exist along income, racial, and ethnic lines. Hispanic, Mexican American, and Non-Hispanic black children having higher than average rates of both overweight and obesity, and family income is also correlated with a child's risk of being overweight, with the association varying by race/ethnicity. (11)
  • Nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have childhood obesity rates greater than 20%. Nine of the ten states with the highest rates of obese children are in the South, as are nine out of the ten states with the highest rates of poverty. (12)

1. Ng SW, Popkin BM. Time use and physical activity: a shift away from movement across the globe. Obes Rev. 2012;13(8):659-680.

2. Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(1):181-188.

3. Singh A, Uijtdewilligen L, Twisk JW, van Mechelen W, Chinapaw MJ. Physical activity and performance at school: a systematic review of the literature including a methodological quality assessment. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(1):49-55.

4. Raspberry CN, Lee SM, Robin L, et al. The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: a systematic review of the literature. Prev Med. 2011;52 Suppl 1:S10-20.

5. US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines for Americans Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2008.

6. Institute of Medicine Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; Food and Nutrition Board. Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies; 2012.

7. Lee SM, Burgeson CR, Fulton JE, Spain CG. Physical education and physical activity: results from the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. J Sch Health. 2007;77(8):435-463.

8. National Association for Sport and Physical Education & American Heart Association. 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA. 2012. Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

9. Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, et al. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. N Engl J Med. 2005;352(11):1138-1145.

10. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of Obesity and Trends in Body Mass Index Among US Children and Adolescents, 1999-2010. JAMA. 2012;307(5):483-90.

11. Freedman DS, Ogden CL, Flegal KM, Khan LK, Serdula MK, Dietz WH. Childhood overweight and family income. MedGenMed. 2007;9(2):26.

12. Trust for America's Health. F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future. 2012.

13. CDC. Physical Inactivity and Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors and Academic achievement; CDC. The association between school based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. DHHS; 2010 

Posted July 25, 2013