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UnitedHealth Group Offering Grants to Help Combat Childhood Obesity


“UnitedHealth HEROES” to award grants to support local programs that help children get and stay healthy

Community-based, service-learning initiative in partnership with Youth Service America expanded to 34 states and the District of Columbia

Minneapolis .– UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is giving children the opportunity to become “Health Heroes” by learning about childhood obesity, designing programs to address it and implementing the programs in their communities.

UnitedHealth HEROES is a service-learning, health literacy initiative designed to encourage young people, working through educators and youth leaders, to create and implement local hands-on programs to address the issue of childhood obesity. Now in its second year, the UnitedHealth HEROES grant program is available to schools and youth-focused, community center-based programs in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to programs that demonstrate a clear understanding of the health risks associated with childhood obesity; propose creative solutions to combating obesity in their schools and communities; and can be easily implemented, scaled and measured.

Schools and youth-focused community organizations in the following states are eligible to apply:
• Alabama • Indiana • New Mexico
• Arizona • Kentucky • New York
• Arkansas • Louisiana • North Carolina
• California • Maryland • Ohio
• Colorado • Massachusetts • Pennsylvania
• Connecticut • Michigan • Rhode Island
• Delaware • Minnesota • South Carolina
• District of Columbia • Mississippi • Tennessee
• Florida • Missouri • Texas
• Georgia • Nevada • Virginia
• Hawaii • New Jersey • Washington
• Illinois • Wisconsin

To obtain an application, visit and click on the “UnitedHealth HEROES” link under “Support – Get Funding” or the “UnitedHealth HEROES” link under “What’s New.” The Web site also contains more information about the program and resources for gathering information on the risk factors associated with childhood obesity. Applications must be submitted online before midnight Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. Grant recipients will be notified in December and January.

“With UnitedHealth HEROES, we are helping young people take action to improve their overall health and quality of life in a way that’s not only educational, but beneficial for their communities. We believe that as people become more aware of health issues through health literacy and advocacy initiatives they will make positive changes to live better lives,” said Daniel Johnson, UnitedHealth Group vice president, Social Responsibility.

“Teams of students can collaborate with teachers and community leaders to develop their own programs to make their schools and neighborhoods healthier. We look forward to seeing the creative ideas our young people come up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier living.”

UnitedHealth Group is partnering with Youth Service America (YSA) to launch the second year of the UnitedHealth HEROES program. Research by Denver-based RMC Research Corp. has shown that young people who participate in service-learning programs improve their academic performance and critical-thinking skills, increase their confidence and sense of potential, and accept leadership roles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of young people are obese and more than 60 percent have at least one avoidable risk for heart disease.

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest health issues facing children and youth in the U.S.,” said Steve Culbertson, YSA president and CEO. “UnitedHealth HEROES provides young people the rare, but important, responsibility to seek solutions to this epidemic, and I’m thrilled to see the innovative ideas used to educate and engage their peers.”

Earlier this year, UnitedHealth Group awarded $67,000 in HEROES grants to 100 schools and community organizations in 15 states. The HEROES service-learning projects were implemented during the spring semester and culminated on YSA’s 21st Annual Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), April 24-26. GYSD provides an opportunity for students to include their projects in a larger, global youth service movement that seeks to improve communities in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.


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