Investing in Kentucky’s Future

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s Investing in Kentucky’s Future (IKF) initiative was designed to reduce the risk that today’s school-aged children will develop chronic diseases as they grow into adults.

The six-year initiative was a partnership between the Foundation and seven local health coalitions throughout the Commonwealth, selected as demonstration projects to support the capacity of community organizations to find local, comprehensive, systemic solutions to complex health issues to improve the health of their children and communities.

Investing in Kentucky’s Future served rural and urban communities: three counties in the Appalachian eastern Kentucky region, two in western Kentucky, one in northern Kentucky and one in Louisville Metro, the largest metropolitan area of the state. 

 Six of the grantees chose to address childhood obesity prevention and the Louisville coalition addressed the issue of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)1 and building resilience in children.

The IKF initiative was a catalyst for tackling community health improvement in a new and bigger way than the coalitions had before, through population health interventions.

The results of the initiative include:

  • 38 local policies were adopted by the communities at a county, city and organizational level.

The policies related to childhood obesity prevention include complete streets, expanded physical education in middle school, shared-use agreements between the schools and the community, a county-wide healthy food resolution, healthy food policies in school, physical activity programs integrated into the school curriculum, healthier food at park concessions.

The policies adopted related to supporting resilience in children include training on ACEs as part of required training for certification of out of school time youth care workers; Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Youth Development requiring ACEs training for organization executives who receive external agency funding; and trauma-informed training becoming required of all schools in the largest school district in Kentucky.

  • Important changes to the built environment were implemented by each community and they included the creation of new parks and park renovations, sidewalks to school, walking paths in schools, playgrounds, splash parks, filtered drinking water fountains in schools, fitness equipment in parks, renovations to sports fields, community trails, standing desks in schools.
  • System changes and enhancements took place, including:

Youth engagement in health coalitions and health promotion activities. This included the creation of youth health councils and youth participating as members of the coalition boards.

Parent engagement was achieved through parent support and awareness programs in the pilot schools addressing ACEs and resilience. As a result, parent conferences jumped from 231 to 681 and PTA membership grew from zero to 213 members over the course of the grant.

Community engagement was ample and reflected in expanded membership to the health coalitions, new partnerships with business and the media, coordination with other community-based coalitions and groups and community health events. Additionally, the IKF communities developed farmers markets, school-based clinics, and leveraged other funding opportunities involving the coalitions. Overall, the grant led to increased community awareness and the development of environments supportive of physical activity, nutrition and support to resilience.

Improved coalition capacity, as measured by a baseline and post survey applied to members of participating coalitions, with demonstrated improved capacity in terms of planning, collaboration, leadership and decision making, communication, ability to influence policy and environmental changes, and sustainability.

  • Improved health behaviors and environments were a result of the initiative. The initiative had a strong evaluation component and tracked several indicators to reflect improvements in healthy behaviors and environments to support resilience. Some of the changes seen include:

Childhood obesity prevention:

– In the elementary school survey applied to students in participating schools, baseline and post: desirable behavior changes were indicated in 92% of the survey response options for the survey questions related to increased physical activity and improved nutrition.

– In the middle school survey applied to students in participating schools, baseline and post: desirable behavior changes were indicated in 91% of the survey response options for the survey questions related to increase physical activity and improved nutrition.

Adverse Childhood Experiences:

– 86% of staff (teachers, administrators and support staff like bus drivers and cafeteria workers) described their skill in providing effective support to students experiencing traumatic events as “adequate” or “extensive” in the spring of 2017 compared to just 30% in the fall of 2014.

– Student school climate surveys showed gains for 9 of 9 items, while the control school failed to show gains for any of the items.

– Teacher retention improved: 90.2% in 2017 vs. 87.8% in 2014.


Full IKF Report
IKF Childhood Obesity Prevention Video
IKF Adverse Childhood Experiences Video