Build a network of partners to enhance your wellness team’s vision and champion the conditions necessary to achieve school-wide wellness. Hallways to Health changed the culture of schools by fully integrating health, education, and environment to support the school’s mission of student success. SBHC staff can collaborate with wellness teams to engage partners across sectors and build buy-in and support for school wellness across ever-expanding networks of sponsor organizations, youth, parents, school administration, and leadership.

Engaging with stakeholders and partners benefits your school wellness efforts by allowing you to:

  • Strengthen your relationships with key stakeholders and garner essential buy-in from those who can enhance and sustain your school-wide wellness work.
  • Work with collaborating partners to implement, promote, support, and sustain your school-wide wellness efforts.
  • Establish buy-in and support to enable policy and systemic change.

Best Practices

  • Consider each stakeholder group: school staff and leaders, community-based organizations, parents, and youth. Each partner can offer something different to advance school wellness.
  • Articulate why your team will engage partners.
  • Consider whether or not potential collaborators will:
    • Approve and support school wellness.
    • Provide insight or information to help design or implement school wellness efforts.
    • Increase buy-in for school wellness.
    • Embed school wellness in policies and procedures.
    • Help recruit or enroll students in school wellness programs and activities.
    • Increase visibility of the SBHC.
    • Provide funding and resources to support school wellness efforts now or in the future.
  • Asset mapping is a process to inventory and identify strengths and available resources in a community, and depict them in a visual manner. You can build on these assets to address community needs and improve health. [v]
  • Determine with whom you will work, for what services or programs, and at what times.
  • Prioritize partners who can enhance your efforts—choose those with high levels of influence, interest, and commitment to improve school wellness.
  • Select stakeholders who align with priorities you’ve established through your population level data.
  • Include organizations that share interests in school wellness in your engagement plans. These could include SBHC medical sponsor organizations, advisory groups, community based organizations, and public health organizations.
  • Ask yourself the following questions for each potential stakeholder: What motivates them? What information, skills, or resources do they have? What outcomes are they interested in seeing?
  • Use the Stakeholder Map to prioritize your partners.
  • Decide how you will you engage each partner: inform, consult, involve, or collaborate.
  • Engage partners early and often.
  • Use the Message Box to develop clear, concise messages and asks for various stakeholder groups.
  • Codify the relationships, roles, and responsibilities of your partners through letters of agreements (LOAs) and memorandums of understanding (MOUs).
  • Revisit, monitor, and revise your stakeholder engagement plan regularly as stakeholder priorities may shift over time, or new stakeholders may emerge based on the school-wide wellness approaches your team selects. For instance, if your wellness team identifies neighborhood safety as a priority, you may want to engage the local police or department of transportation, stakeholders you hadn’t previously considered.


You may have to employ creative strategies to recruit different stakeholder groups and keep them engaged. Some may require calls, and emails, where others may require meetings and in-person presentations.


Plan early. Use your school’s academic calendar for the best times to engage school administration, staff and teachers. Ideal timing may differ depending on school; many of the Hallways to Health sites found that summer is a great time to engage school administration and staff since things are a little slower and there is more time to plan for the next year.


Be patient. It takes time to build relationships with external partners, especially if there is no prior partner relationship. It requires persistence, and ongoing outreach efforts.


Identify those who may impede your efforts and strategize how to build their support. For instance, school leaders may offer verbal support for school wellness efforts, but if they do not attend meetings or respond, due to competing priorities or time, your team may not be able to get permission or additional support needed for your school wellness approaches.

Stories from the Field

At San Fernando High School Teen Health and Wellness Center, San Fernando, CA, the SBHC health educator developed a strong relationship with the Vice Principal (VP) through regular meetings and worked with the VP to approve Hallways to Health activities.

The administration actively supported the SBHC staff by jointly creating goals for the school wellness committee, attending SBHC events, implementing the alternative breakfast initiative, and promoting the restorative justice intervention. In addition, the VP designated the SBHC health educator as one of four educators to plan, recruit, and facilitate the summer bridge program– a program designed to acclimate incoming high school students to their new school and new peers.

With a supportive school administration, the SBHC staff was easily able to access the student and staff populations for a variety of wellness efforts.

At Turner Elementary School, Albany, GA, the Physician Assistant (PA) reinvigorated the school and district wellness teams, and recruited a diverse group of representatives to participate: SBHC staff, teachers, administrators, students, and parents. This took time, but the wellness team helped build relationships and created buy-in with teachers, administrators, students, and families.

These collaborations were key to changing district policy, reinstating recess on the school and district master schedule, and reaching thousands of students.

In the John F. Kennedy High School district, Richmond, CA, district leaders can provide additional support to SBHCs in the district–through approving contracts with community partners who provide student services and allocating funds to support student wellness within the district. These supportive conditions make it possible for the district to implement policies that guarantee sustainable school wellness funding.

The SBHC staff at JFK High School engaged the school board and district leaders throughout the year by sharing presentations on school-wide wellness efforts and outcomes. Through engaging the district, The SBHC staff regularly engaged the district to ensure that the district continued funding school wellness programs.


[v] Asset Mapping, 2018. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Website. Accessed March 23, 2018.