Children's Health Fund Tackles Health Crisis in the Classroom Launching Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative

First pilot school in New York City funded by Corporate Founding Partner Jaguar Land Rover with $500,000 grant to ensure students at South Bronx elementary school PS 49 are healthy and ready to learn during the 2014-15 school year

Jun 09, 2014, 13:00 ET from Children's Health Fund

NEW YORK, June 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Children are falling behind academically because they need glasses and can't see the blackboard.  Other students are chronically absent due to untreated asthma. Dental pain, behavioral health challenges, hearing impairments and other health barriers to learning are epidemic among children in America's most disadvantaged families and contribute to a persistent achievement gap. Children's Health Fund, which for 27 years has worked on the frontlines bringing health care to children in many of the country's most economically distressed communities, announced today the launch of an innovative school-based initiative to create "Healthy and Ready to Learn Schools." Phase one of this initiative includes three pilot schools in New York City that will embody a new partnership of health care professionals, educators, and parents to ensure that every child gets the health care and support needed to fulfill their potential.  Announced today as a Corporate Founding Partner of the Healthy and Ready to Learn initiative, Jaguar Land Rover North America has provided Children's Health Fund with a $500,000 grant through its Corporate Social Responsibility program to fund the first pilot school, a South Bronx elementary school in the nation's poorest Congressional district.

Founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/activist Irwin Redlener in 1987, Children's Health Fund created its first innovative model decades ago by building a "doctor's office on wheels" that could bring healthcare to homeless children in New York City.  Today, its national fleet of mobile medical clinics – the largest mobile pediatric service in the country – visits hundreds of schools and pre-K centers to provide primary care, dental services and mental health support to students who otherwise may not see a doctor or a dentist. Mounting evidence backs up what Children's Health Fund doctors have been seeing on these pediatric clinics— children with untreated health conditions are struggling in school hampered by the burden of chronic conditions like asthma, undetected vision and hearing impairments, hunger and anemia from inadequate nutrition, rampant tooth decay that can lead to distracting pain, and behavioral health issues that are exacerbated by the insecurity and challenges of poverty.  With the Healthy and Ready to Learn initiative, Children's Health Fund is again creating a new model that enables healthcare professionals, educators and parents to work together to change the odds for children in poverty and give every child a chance to succeed in school.

"Teachers in the nation's underperforming schools face a classroom that is filled with children who have untreated health problems that directly impede their capacity to learn, and we need to open our eyes to this problem and fix it," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, Co-Founder and President, Children's Health Fund. "We are so thankful to Jaguar Land Rover for supporting our first 'Healthy and Ready to Learn' pilot, which will bring staff and resources to the school to facilitate robust screening protocols for health barriers to learning, aggressive follow up to ensure kids get the treatment needed for diagnosed conditions, and teacher and parent education so they can be effective partners in this effort."

Dr. Charles Basch, Professor of Health and Education at Columbia University's Teachers College is working with Children's Health Fund on the design of the Children's Health Fund initiative. He said, "Recent research has shown that the health barriers to learning that we are targeting have powerful impacts on cognition, attendance and school connectedness.  While there have been prior efforts to tackle one problem or another, like getting glasses for kids or providing breakfast, a strategic and coordinated effort is what is needed to ensure that kids are healthy and ready to learn."

"Jaguar Land Rover is honored to be Corporate Founding Partner of the Children's Health Fund Healthy and Ready to Learn initiative," said Joe Eberhardt, President  & CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America.  "We understand the need to remove those health-related barriers that prevent children from learning in the classroom and look forward to working alongside CHF to enact positive change in the lives of students in need."

The Jaguar Land Rover grant will fund this pilot program at PS 49, the Willis Avenue School, which is a public elementary school in the South Bronx serving over 700 children in grades pre-k through 5th. Approximately 97% of students enrolled at the school are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and just under 20% of students are English Language Learners (ELL). In the 2012-2013 school year, 30.5% of students were chronically absent, missing 18 or more days of school. In addition to supporting this "Healthy and Ready to Learn" pilot school, Children's Health Fund will use the Jaguar Land Rover grant to produce an guide for parents to educate them about how they can help ensure that their children are healthy and ready to learn.  This guide will be distributed throughout the Children's Health Fund national network and benefit an estimated 25,000 families.

Through the corporate social responsibility platform, Children's Health Fund and Jaguar Land Rover will also create opportunities for employees to interact directly with the school community at the pilot school through volunteering opportunities and the involvement of the dealerships.

Last October, Children's Health Fund released a survey, done in conjunction with the New York City Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which highlighted some of the major issues school principals and administrators felt were barriers to learning. Nearly 63% of those surveyed said asthma was a major problem in the classroom, 57% cited vision problems, and 40% noted contagious illnesses. In addition to medical conditions, mental health and behavioral conditions were named as major classroom disruptors – 86% surveyed noted disruptive behavior as a major barrier to learning. The full report, "Crisis in the Classroom," and more information on Children's Health Fund can be found at

Children's Health Fund
Founded in 1987 by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Irwin Redlener, M.D., Children's Health Fund is the nation's leading pediatric provider of mobile-based health care for homeless and low-income children and their families. Its mission is to bring health care directly to those in need through the development and support of innovative medical programs, response to public health crises, and the promotion of guaranteed access to health care for all children. Children's Health Fund supports a fleet of 50 mobile medical, dental and mental health clinics serving hundreds of locations in 17 states and the District of Columbia.  Over the past 27 years, the organization has treated over 350,000 disadvantaged children providing almost four million health care visits, often in places where doctors and health care providers are in short supply. For more information about CHF, visit

Jaguar Land Rover

  • The United States is one of the leading global markets for both Jaguar and Land Rover
  • Jaguar Land Rover employs 25,000 people and sells vehicles in 170 countries around the world
  • Jaguar Land Rover has two state of the art engineering and design facilities and three advanced manufacturing plants in the UK
  • Headquartered in Mahwah, New Jersey in the United States, Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC has offices across the USA
  • Jaguar Land Rover is represented by more than 330 independently operated retail outlets in the USA

SOURCE Children's Health Fund