Melinda French Gates’ company Pivotal Ventures and MacKenzie Scott have donated $23m in the School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) to combat healthcare disparities among young people in the US.  

This funding highlights the crucial role of school-based health centres (SBHCs) and aims to address the healthcare access crisis, especially for low-income families, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

SBHCs provide comprehensive care within schools, covering primary care, mental health, oral health, and vision services, enhancing both educational and health outcomes. 

The SBHA focuses on expanding health centres in federally funded schools for low-income students. 

Currently there are 3,900 SBHCs nationwide, where there are 25,000 Title I schools. 

With Pivotal Ventures’ funding, SBHA will launch care coordination programmes in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Miami.  

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This involves communication among stakeholders to help young people access comprehensive health services and address social determinants.  

SBHA plans to hire and train up to 42 care coordinators over several years, collaborating with local workgroups and national organisations to implement the School-Based Health Care Coordinator Training Program.  

The initiative also aims to sustain the care coordinator role through Medicaid reimbursement. 

MacKenzie Scott’s award, the largest in SBHA’s 28-year history, will enable the organisation to provide expertise, drive innovation, measure impact, and advocate for policy changes.  

Recent SBHA initiatives include addressing youth mental health, developing clinical tools, tackling root causes of poor youth health, and addressing food insecurity. 

SBHA president and CEO Robert Boyd said: “We are grateful for MacKenzie Scott’s and Pivotal Venture’s confidence in our organisation. 

“Students, regardless of circumstance, need to be healthy to learn.  

“These investments acknowledge the urgency of addressing youth health today and will help us expand healthcare in schools through a mix of innovative services, training, and advocacy for policies that make sense for communities and families.”