— Participating Educators Receive Access to Standards-Aligned Lesson Plans and Can Apply to Receive Up to $240,000 in Grants and Prizes to Empower Students to Establish Healthy Habits for Life —


— In Support of Active Duty Military, One Grand Prize Giveaway Will Be Awarded to a School Serving the Military Community —


Silver Spring, Md. (September 7, 2016) – The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a broad-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help reduce childhood obesity, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, announced today the back-to-school launch of the Together Counts™ program for the 2016-2017 school year. Established in 2010, the Together Counts program is a comprehensive health and wellness initiative designed to encourage students, educators and families to live healthy lifestyles. Since the program’s launch, a total of more than $1.6M has been awarded to deserving schools across the country.


Available at no cost, the program offers educators and students nationwide standards-based curriculum, as well as the chance to win cash grants and equipment for their schools. Updated in 2016 to address overall wellness, lesson plans tailored to Pre-K, K-2 and 3-5 teach goal-planning skills and strategies for developing lifelong resilience. All lesson plans, family resources and incentive programs can be found at; follow @TogetherCounts on Twitter and Facebook.


  • Together Counts: Healthy Decisions, Healthy Habits Curriculum: With a focus on empowering teachers with the tools they need to help their students lead healthy and active lifestyles, the new curriculum includes lessons on overall wellness – physical, social and emotional – teaching kids to make decisions that foster healthy habits throughout their lives. These resources support the federal government’s recently issued 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are aligned to national education standards. Additionally, for Pre-K educators and families, provides age-appropriate content and hands-on activities to foster healthy habits in younger children. Empowering early educators with improved training is central to HWCF’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. An on-demand training module is available from Penn State Better Kid Care at


  • Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes: Administrators, teachers, parents and community members can enter this year’s Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of three grand prizes for their school, including $30,000 in cash and sporting goods and a new PlayCubesTM Playground from Playworld, a leading manufacturer of imaginative playground and fitness equipment (entire prize package valued at $60,405 each). For the first time, the Sweepstakes will designate one grand prize to a U.S. military base or installation for a school or community organization serving the children of active duty military. Additionally, to support low-income schools, the Sweepstakes will award one of the grand prizes to a school that qualifies for Title I funding. Three runner-up winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize. Sweepstakes open now through March 24, 2017. Entry for the sweepstakes can be found at


  • Smart From The Start Awards: The Smart from the Start Awards encourage preschool and Head Start teachers to design and implement an action plan to improve health and wellness at their school. They are tasked with incorporating the free Smart from the Start lesson plans and leveraging the larger school community as part of their plan. New this year, an on-demand training module developed by Penn State Better Kid Care is available at no cost to further support use of the curriculum in schools. The grand prize winning teacher will be awarded $20,000 for his or her school, while 10 runner-up participants will each win $2,500 for their school. Smart from the Start is part of an ongoing commitment to improve early childhood education made to the Clinton Global Initiative. Entries open now throughMarch 2, 2017. All lessons and access to the training module can be found at

Data from an initial impact study revealed students exposed to the Together Counts curriculum added one or more physical activities per week to their routine while also making healthier nutrition choices. Additionally, more than 90  percent of educators who implemented the curriculum in their classroom thought it made an impact and their students had a better understanding of healthy habits.


“Lesson plans and student resources available through the Together Counts program have engaged my students in easy-to-understand health and wellness concepts that have empowered them to live healthier lives both in and outside of the classroom,” said Francie Snyder, teacher at Prine Elementary School in Manatee County, Fl. “I look forward to introducing my new students this year to the program, and entering my school in the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes!”


“Empowering American school students and their families to make healthy decisions that become healthy habits for life is critical to reducing obesity,” said Becky Johnson, HWCF executive director. “The Together Counts curriculum and the health and wellness grants show that educators, families and communities are motivated to live healthier lives, and we are proud to provide them with the tools, information and resources they need to inspire a new generation to live healthier, more active lives.”


“Discovery Education is committed to providing schools nationwide with free digital resources across a variety of curricular areas that empower educators, students and families with hands-on tools and engaging learning activities,” said Lori McFarling, senior vice president, Discovery Education. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to deliver a range of opportunities that teach the importance of health and wellness, and help establish healthy habits for students early on.”


For additional information on the Together Counts program visit


About Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) is a broad-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help reduce obesity, especially childhood obesity, by encouraging positive and permanent lifestyle changes among school-aged children and their families. The Foundation develops and implements innovative and collaborative educational, marketplace and community solutions with its coalition of 300 corporate and not-for-profit partners.  Through its free, award-winning Together Counts™ wellness curriculum, the Foundation has reached more than 36.1 million students. As the first commitment to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and verified by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HWCF’s food and beverage company members gave consumers more lower calorie options by removing 6.4 trillion calories from their products– surpassing their pledge by more than 400 percent three years ahead of schedule. In June 2016 the program expanded internationally with the launch of the Latin American Commitment to a Healthy Future at the World Economic Forum in Medellín, Colombia.


About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education


About Playworld
Playworld believes The World Needs Play®. Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. It’s something you are never too young or too old to enjoy. We develop playground environments where creativity is king, belly laughs are welcome and children make the rules. Playworld equipment is designed to unleash the transformational power of play so bodies grow stronger, children play safely and imagination can take flight. For 45 years, Playworld has created innovative, inclusive and meaningful outdoor play experiences for all ages and abilities. Come play with us at


“Take Back Your Schools” Action Guide Released

Five Foundational Steps to Ensure Schools Work Better for All Children from the Nation’s Leader in Education Innovation and Opportunity

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, with annual Back to School rituals now fully underway, parents, grandparents and engaged citizens have a new tool to help them make a fundamental difference in the education of their children and ensure that the status quo is the exception, not the rule.

The “Take Back Your Schools” Action Guide – fully online – provides five impactful steps to guide parents and citizens who want to be engaged in making education better for their children, their communities and the nation. Said CER’s founder and CEO Jeanne Allen, “With twenty-five years of evidence-based solutions underway, improving education opportunity and results for kids is no longer a mystery.”

Among the actions that citizens can take, the Center provides access to information about:

  • Transparency: School report cards, national and international comparisons
  • Opportunity: How states are doing in providing meaningful options
  • Engagement: Tools that empower parents & others with critical information
  • Politics & Policy: How to make sense of candidates and the policies they espouse

In addition to the five foundational steps available here, the Center will continue to build upon its unique storehouse of data and action steps to help citizens advance education innovation and opportunity in America so that all can achieve upward mobility, and the American dream.

To learn more, visit For models of success and opportunities to interview CER leadership about these and other efforts, contact CER Communications Director Michelle Tigani at


About the Center for Education Reform

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that the conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education. We will do this by applying ANew Opportunity Agenda to U.S. education, so that every education policy effort moving forward is focused Innovation + Opportunity = Results.


Shelby County Chooses PCG Education’s Paths to College and Career (EngageNY) to Provide ELA Curriculum

Schools in the district’s innovative trial program will implement the EngageNY ELA curriculum this fall to accelerate English language achievement for all students in grades 9–12


(Memphis, TN) September 7, 2016 –To support educators as they work to build the skills and understandings of high school students striving to meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Shelby County Schools has embarked on an innovative trial to bring the EngageNY English Language Arts Curriculum to students in grades 9–12.

The district is implementing PCG and Wiley’s Paths to College and Career 9-12 English Language Arts Curriculum (EngageNY) in order to change teacher practice and improve student achievement. The first goal of the trial is that, by the end of the 2016–2017 school year, students in the 80 classrooms where Paths to College and Career is implemented will report higher scores in Tennessee’s statewide ELA assessment than students in comparison classrooms.

The second goal of the trial is that, by the end of this school year, at least 80% of collected assignments in the classrooms where the Paths curriculum is implemented will demonstrate strong or excellent alignment to the CCR standards. In an analysis of previous years’ collected assignments, only 20% were aligned to the CCR standards.

Professional development for teachers and coaches is a critical component of this project. In a Paths Summer Institute conducted by PCG, teachers were introduced to the instructional shifts that underpin the curriculum and given the opportunity to dig into the initial modules under the guidance of PCG’s curriculum experts. To embed ongoing professional development in the classroom, PCG will work with coaches and district leaders to conduct classroom walkthroughs and professional development workshops that will cement and expand teachers’ instructional practices.

As Shelby County Schools’ Teacher and Leader Development Manager, Monica Jordan, explained to teachers involved in the program, “We are thrilled that your school is participating because Paths was designed specifically for districts like ours. This curriculum will help our students improve their reading, writing, and thinking skills.”

PCG’s Senior Associate Dr. Katanna Conley agreed, commenting. “The curriculum gives all students, including those who had previously been excluded from challenging learning experiences, the opportunity for rigorous thinking with grade-level texts.”

Paths to College and Career (EngageNY) is a comprehensive English Language Arts/Literacy curriculum for grades 6–12 that meets the demands and instructional shifts of CCSS. Paths provides engaging and challenging learning experiences for students and meaningful support for educators as they encounter new instructional approaches and strategies that build students’ skills and knowledge. Paths provides guidance to teachers for facilitating evidence-based conversations about text, developing students’ academic vocabulary, teaching close reading, implementing accountable independent reading (AIR), and unpacking the standards themselves.

About PCG Education

A division of Public Consulting Group (PCG), PCG Education offers consulting and technology solutions to schools, districts, and state education agencies across the U.S. and internationally to strengthen student achievement and improve organizations’ instructional and operational capacity. In partnership with clients, PCG designs and delivers training and technical assistance to build educators’ ability to improve instruction, develop standards-based curriculum, and meet the needs of diverse learners along the pathway to college and career readiness.  PCG supports practitioners at all stages of standards implementation and school improvement. More information is available at

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