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School-Based Health Services Help Students Develop to Their Full Potential

Resource type: Grantee Story

Oakland sixth-grader Carlos Mazariego took his first trip away from home when he travelled to Washington, D.C., for a national Elev8 youth advocacy trip. He and nine other students met with staff from the offices of California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and advocated for a response to tackle issues like community violence and racism that affect their young lives. Atlantic supports the community schools model through its funding for Elev8. Photo: Elev8 Oakland

“My teeth feel so much better now. They don’t hurt,” explained Lisa, a smiling middle school student in Oakland, California, who recently received her first dental care in five years at a school-based health centre built for Oakland’s Elev8 programme. Lisa told the centre’s director that her teeth had been hurting for a long time. She was screened quickly, had two teeth pulled, and staff is now securing funding for orthodontia.

“I like going to the dentist at my school, because my mom doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for it,” added Lisa, who asked not to use her real name, because her parents are undocumented immigrants.

Learning at school with aching teeth is not a formula for academic success, and that is only one reason Atlantic has invested heavily in Elev8, a full-service community schools programme in 20 middle schools in Baltimore, Chicago, New Mexico and Oakland. Elev8 enables these students to develop to their full potential by supporting their needs in school, providing meals, a full range of on-site health services, enrolment in public health coverage programmes, mentors and ongoing out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities. It also offers parents vital support and resources. Most importantly, Elev8 serves as a model for other communities across the country.

Atlantic has invested nearly $22 million in Oakland, where its signature project is the construction of five school health centres that offer a range of services, including dental care. To ensure high-quality care, Atlantic made a $1.75 million grant to the University of California, San Francisco, enabling its nursing and dental schools to provide services in the centres. In the 2010–2011 school year, the five Oakland centres had more than 13,000 visits, an average of 9.6 visits per student. In the same period, there were nearly 28,000 visits to health centres across all Elev8 sites.

The Havenscourt Health Center in an Oakland middle school serves its youth. Photo: Elev8 Oakland

Following Atlantic’s lead, the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program invested $10 million in five school health centres in Oakland, and Alameda County is now committed to constructing a health centre in each of its remaining 90 middle schools, a significant return on Atlantic’s investment.

Since 2007, Atlantic has invested more than $100 million in Elev8 to benefit more than 65,000 youth and demonstrate that middle school students can succeed when they get the support they need. Elev8 has inspired expansion of the full-service community schools model in Oakland and New Mexico, and the development of a school-based health centre expansion strategy in Chicago. Elev8’s model of success helped secure more than $275 million from the federal government for school-based health centre construction.




Giving While Living: Marking 30 Years of Achievements: 1982–2012

> Read more stories of impact in our 30th anniversary publication

Safe Passages is one of several Elev8 grantees. View a complete list of Atlantic’s Elev8 grantees >

To Learn More about Elev8:

> Visit our Elev8 page for videos and updates

> Visit or the websites of the local initiatives:

Elev8 Baltimore
Elev8 Chicago
Elev8 New Mexico
Elev8 Oakland


Elev8 is a grantee of Atlantic’s Children & Youth programme in the United States, which funds efforts to support and expand community schools.

Related Resources


Community Schools

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United States