Skip to main content

Rural Schools and Health – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Evidence-Based Examples

Helping Kids PROSPER
Updated/reviewed June 2019
  • Need: An approach to support sustained, quality delivery of evidence-based programs for youth and families in rural communities.
  • Intervention: PROSPER, a program delivery system, guides communities in implementing evidence-based programs that build youth competencies, improve family functioning, and prevent risky behaviors, particularly substance use.
  • Results: Youth in PROSPER communities reported delayed initiation of a variety of substances, lower levels of other behavioral problems, and improvements in family functioning and other life skills.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Noble County Outreach Project
Updated/reviewed October 2020
  • Need: To help enroll and retain children and their families in health insurance in Noble County, Indiana.
  • Intervention: A school-based health insurance outreach project focused on connecting children to health insurance.
  • Results: More than 600 individuals enrolled in health insurance.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP)
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: An ongoing health need to alleviate early childhood obesity in the rural Kansas counties of Marshall and Nemaha.
  • Intervention: 5 distinct physical and nutritional programs were introduced to 9 preschool sites through the overarching Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP).
  • Results: HELP comprehensively increased children's physical activity and healthy food consumption and established a sustainable presence at each preschool site.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Schools That Care
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: To provide mental health services to rural Kansas students and their families.
  • Intervention: The Schools That Care project provides mental health treatment and case management as well as community education events.
  • Results: In three years, 545 people received services through the school social worker, and 3,227 people participated in community events.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy School-Based Health Center Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • Need: To improve the oral health status of children ages 3 to 17 living in underserved rural areas of Louisiana.
  • Intervention: School-based nurse practitioners perform oral health assessments, apply fluoride varnishes when indicated, and make dental referrals, with completion rates of the latter tracked by dental case managers.
  • Results: Significant numbers of school children are receiving oral health examinations, fluoride varnish applications, and receiving care coordination to improve numbers of completed dental appointments.
Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital School Nurse Program
Updated/reviewed April 2019
  • Need: School nurses to assess and care for students in rural Michigan schools who have limited access to healthcare.
  • Intervention: Munson Healthcare Charlevoix, a CAH in Northern Michigan, created the School Nurse Program to provide medical care and education to students, school staff, and families.
  • Results: The School Nurse Program brings healthcare to over 3,400 students in 8 schools every year and chronic absenteeism in participating schools has dramatically decreased.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy From CATCH to C.H.E.F.
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: To help children and families in Lincoln, rural Benton, and east Linn counties achieve higher-quality lives free of preventable diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity.
  • Intervention: Two programs were applied on a local level to provide physical activity, nutrition, and culinary education in a school and community setting.
  • Results: The physical activity rate surpassed the Department of Health and Human Services recommended rate by 5%, and schools started serving healthier options in their cafeterias.

Other Project Examples

Schools as a Hub for Health
Updated/reviewed April 2021
  • Need: To improve health outcomes in rural Appalachian Ohio.
  • Intervention: Schools as a Hub for Health promotes holistic wellness for the whole community by creating or bringing in programs that support physical, mental, and social health.
  • Results: The project has gained administrator buy-in and was featured in a December 2016 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps webinar.
Hope Squad
Updated/reviewed March 2021
  • Need: To reduce youth suicide rates.
  • Intervention: Hope Squad is a nationwide program that trains youth to look after their classmates and refer those with suicidal thoughts or other mental health concerns to adult advisors.
  • Results: Studies suggest that Hope Squad schools' students with suicidal thoughts are more likely than non-Hope Squad schools' students to solicit help and that stigma surrounding mental illness is decreasing.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy On the Move! Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education (Operation UNITE)
Updated/reviewed February 2021
  • Need: To decrease illicit drug and alcohol use in the Central Appalachian region of Kentucky, where many schools had no type of prevention curriculum.
  • Intervention: Using engaging simulations and presentations, the project delivers substance use prevention education to middle school and high school students.
  • Results: Post-test surveys show that thousands of students are reached through the "On the Move!" project and gain positive knowledge on the dangers of substance use.

Last Updated: 4/5/2021