A popular TSET grant program that promotes improved health and wellbeing in schools and communities is now accepting applications.

Applications for the TSET Healthy Incentive Program for communities and schools are now being accepted. The application period for the grants will end Jan. 15. To learn more go to https://tset.ok.gov/content/funding-opportunities.

At the quarterly meeting of the TSET Board of Directors in November, the board awarded $705,500 in grants to 21 school districts and school sites and 12 communities. The incentive program promotes policy change and partnerships at the local level to improve health and support healthy behaviors in schools and communities. Funds for the TSET Healthy Incentive Program are limited. The TSET Board of Directors will consider grant awards at its board meeting in March.

To be eligible to apply for an incentive grant, tobacco-free policies and other health promoting strategies must be implemented in communities, school districts and schools. The incentive grant program complements TSET’s programs and public education initiatives that seek to reduce the leading causes of death in Oklahoma – cancer and cardiovascular disease – by empowering Oklahomans to make healthier choices to eat better, move more and be tobacco free.

“Preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity in Oklahoma takes a comprehensive approach that supports healthy habits and removes barriers to healthy choices,” says TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee. “These incentive grants start conversations about health and help communities and schools make strides on projects and endeavors that support improved quality of life.”

Grant awards for the TSET Healthy Incentive Program for Communities are based on population size and the types of strategies implemented. These strategies include adopting ordinances that make all city-owned and operated property tobacco-free and vapor-free, implementing street and zoning policies that improve walkability and promoting increased access to fresh healthy foods through community gardens and farmer markets. Incentive grant funded projects seek to improve health, and successful applicants decide on the type of project that meets local needs. Projects for communities have included walking trails, community park improvements and enhancements, splash pads, community gardens and farmers markets.

Schools are awarded grants for adopting policies and strategies that promote being tobacco-free, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and increasing physical activity for students, faculty, parents and staff. These health-promoting practices and policies are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Incentive grant funded projects at schools have included physical education equipment, playground improvements and equipment, walking tracks, hydration stations to encourage increased water consumption, action-based learning lab equipment as well as automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 as a long-term strategy to improve health and ensure settlement payments from a 1998 multi-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry are used to improve the health of all Oklahomans. The funds are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.