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Aetna Foundation Awards $100,000 in Grants to NonProfits Chosen by the Public


Students Run L.A.® Top Vote-getter in Aetna Foundation Fight Childhood Obesity Grant Contest

HARTFORD, Conn., — The people have spoken. Students Run L.A.®, Girl Scouts of Connecticut and MicheLee Puppets will share $100,000 in funding from the Aetna Foundation to further their programs aimed at reducing childhood obesity rates among children at risk.

The three nonprofits received the highest number of votes in the Aetna Foundation’s online Fight Childhood Obesity Grant Contest, which ran from September 13 through October 5 on its web site.

“The organizations that participated in our online grant contest are unsung heroes in the fight to reduce childhood obesity rates. Much of their work isn’t widely known, yet they provide needed healthy eating and fitness programs for children from low-income and minority families who are most at risk.” said Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Aetna Foundation. “We are pleased that our online grant contest has put a much-needed spotlight on programs that are addressing the most serious health issue facing children today.”

Students Run L.A.®, the top vote-getter with 213,810 votes, will receive a $50,000 grant; Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the second-place vote-getter with 185,564 votes, will receive a $35,000 grant; and MicheLee Puppets, the third-place finisher with 175,523 votes, will receive a $15,000 grant.

The Aetna Foundation invited the public to choose among 10 preselected organizations that have strong track records fighting childhood obesity. The organizations were selected based on the positive impact of their programs, their ability to reach at-risk children in underserved communities, and their geographic diversity. Each had previously been awarded a grant from the Aetna Foundation.

To encourage supporters to vote, many of the participating organizations made broad use of social media, and highlighted the contest on their Web sites and in mass emails to supporters.

The winners:

Students Run L.A.® challenges at-risk secondary students to experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health by providing them with a truly life-changing experience: The training for and completion of the Honda LA Marathon. The program began in the 1980s with one teacher and a handful of students. Today, the program has grown to 500 teachers and 3000 students from 170 schools and community programs throughout Los Angeles.

Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the largest organization of women and girls in the state, is dedicated to lifelong success through values-based leadership development and personal growth. Its new program Live Healthy, Lead Healthy, teaches thousands of Girl Scouts how to eat right, be fit, and take better care of themselves at the organization’s 12 summer camps, through local Girl Scout troop activities, and at larger events throughout the state.

MicheLee Puppets, Florida’s premier puppetry arts company, brings exciting, educational and entertaining issue-based productions to more than 100,000 young people each year. Its show, EXTREME Health Challenge is a live theatrical production that promotes healthy eating and physical activity among elementary school children and their families.

About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed over $379 million in grants and sponsorships, including more than $20 million in 2009. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered nearly two million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit


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