OEA Choice Trust is pleased to announce another competitive grant opportunity! This opportunity offers funds to Oregon public school districts, community colleges and education service districts to promote and support the health, well-being and resilience of all public school employees.
As the only organization dedicated solely to workplace wellness for Oregon public school employees, our vision is that all Oregon public school employees are healthy, resilient and engaged as champions for healthy school environments and vital communities.
*** The Trust is hosting a webinar about this grant opportunity on May 10 from 3-4 pm. Interested parties are encouraged to register. All registrants will be able to access the recording. Register HERE.
An Employee Wellness Program, Made to Order
The school employee wellness grant can be applied in many different ways so you can tailor your program to the specific needs and interests of your employees! We understand that multiple factors – degree of leadership support, how many staff members, size of your district, whether you’re in a rural or more urban location – will impact how you design your program to engage your staff.
Wellness programs are typically associated with physical activity and healthy eating, but well-being encompasses the whole person. Because the Trust believes in holistic well-being, we encourage programs that support multiple elements of well-being (personal, social, emotional, purpose and financial well-being). Often, you can address multiple elements of well-being with an activity, such as walking groups that foster physical fitness, emotional health and social connections.
What an Employee Wellness Program Might Look Like
- North Powder Valley Charter School is a past grantee; they used funds over a period of 5 years to build a comprehensive wellness program and create a culture of health and well-being. When surveyed at the end of their fifth year, 90% of staff reported being very satisfied with the school employee wellness program, 86% of employees participated in the wellness program and100% had used their wellness center. Additionally, 50% reported reduced stress as a result of the employee wellness program.
- Over the past 5 grant years, North Powder Valley Charter Schools used the Blueprint for School Employee Wellness to build their capacity to implement a relevant and lasting employee wellness program. As a result, their employee wellness program is integrated into the district goals, operations, practices and wellness policy to create healthier school environments for student and staff.
“When we first started our journey to improve employee wellness five years ago we had a few colleagues at high-risk for obesity, depression, high levels of anxiety, and they struggled with being physically active,” says Betsy, North Powder’s wellness coordinator.
“Our schools’ wellness culture needed to be addressed.” Betsy is happy to report that the employee wellness program has created healthier school environments and a positive culture shift for staff, which has contributed to a positive culture shift for students!
Their program includes:
- An amazing employee wellness team that actively listens to staff feedback to plan their program and incorporate new ideas to improve their program
- A wellness center equipped with weights, treadmills, space and materials for yoga and equipment for cross country skiing, snow shoeing and paddling
- Weekly blood pressure checks with the school nurse
- The district’s Farm to School and school garden programs that support both student and staff well-being; fresh produce grown in the garden is used as part of the school meals and sold at the local farmers market and grocery store
- Cooking demonstrations and healthy snacks offered in partnership with Food Corp representatives and the district’s nutrition services team
- District-sponsored healthy snacks at all-staff meetings
- Time during the contract day for employees to participate in wellness activities
- Walker Tracker challenges
- In partnership with the fire department, an Annual Color Run is held to kick off summer break for students and community members
- Annual employee wellness survey to collect data that informs the planning and sustainability of the school employee wellness program
- A stipend for the Wellness Coordinator position
“Our school culture is so much more positive and I truly believe it is because our staff members feel extra special because there is a focus placed on employee wellness,” says Betsy. “Our staff members are more mindful about health and wellness and are amazing role models for our students and community.”
What’s Included with a Grant Award?
In addition to funding, OEA Choice Trust offers all grantees the following:
- Technical assistance and support from the OEA Choice Trust team, which has over 25 years of collective experience working with schools and districts to create healthy environments for students and staff
- Tools and resources grounded in evidence informed and best practices
- Professional development
OEA Choice Trust Employee Wellness Grant awards are a maximum of $100,000 for school employee wellness programs that will be implemented within 5 years. Please note: this is a multiyear grant award and annual grant funding requests are limited to a maximum of $30,000 per grant year.
The grant application and scoring rubric can be downloaded at http://oeachoice.com/grant-program/
Resources for Planning Your Program
Whether you already have employee wellness initiatives in place or feel ready to get started, we can help!
- View the School Employee Health, Well-being and Resilience Model to learn about our holistic approach to employee health and well-being.
- Use the Blueprint for School Employee Wellness to guide you through the 6 steps of planning and implementing a meaningful and lasting program.
- Staff Health and Well-being Needs and Interest Survey
- Use the Framework of Proven Strategies and Best Practices to get program ideas based in best and proven practices.
Grant Opportunity Information
Who is eligible: Oregon public schools, community colleges and ESDs are eligible
When applications are due: Grant applications are due November 5; no exceptions will be made
How to apply: 1) Visit the Grant Program page and select “How to Apply” 2) Click on the link; this will navigate you to a form 3) By submitting your information on the form you will be redirected to the grant application
Who to contact: If you have questions or need additional information, contact Inge Aldersebaes at 503-495-6254 or 503-799-8322
Words of Wisdom from Betsy of North Powder
- Don’t give up hope! “It took quite a bit of time (two years plus) and some challenging moments of feeling overwhelmed or a bit ‘deflated’ to gain school-wide support and buy-in from all of our staff members. I was never willing to give up because I knew the payoff would be huge. Our school culture is so much more positive and I truly believe it is because our staff members feel extra special because there is focus placed on employee wellness.”
- Let employee feedback be your guideposts. “I strongly believe the positive changes with our school employee wellness happened because we listened to our staff members and we continued to offer a variety of opportunities that allowed every staff member to participate in something.”
- Variety is the spice of life! “Walking challenges, cooking classes, blood draws, blood pressure monitoring and screening, fitness classes, monthly activity trackers, water challenges, Badger Wellness Wednesday gear, incentives, new wellness items (Fitbits, water bottles, stress reduction shoulder wraps), participation in the wellness center… we presented them with a variety of health and wellness opportunities!”
- Practice patience. “Change takes time and being able to network with other schools about their challenges and successes over the past five years has also helped to shape our successes and outcomes.”
- Capture the heart and soul successes of your program. “Overall, the team and school camaraderie to support and encourage each other on their wellness journey has been so amazing and heartwarming. I believe the changes that we have made in our district focusing on employee wellness have also positively impacted overall health and wellness with our students and our community.”
“It takes a solid and a positive team to accomplish anything in life and I have always said it starts at the top…OEA Choice Team has been our top supporter,” Betsy says.