Awards for Excellence in Texas School Health


The Awards for Excellence in Texas School Health Program recognizes, rewards, funds and promotes effective school health programs and initiatives that strive to continually improve the lifelong physical, mental and social well-being of students, staff and the greater school community.


2016 Awards for Excellence

2016 AFE logo

The Texas Health Institute Awards:

To be considered for any of the following three awards sponsored by the Texas Health Institute, you must have or plan to have an effective school, multi-campus, or district-wide program, initiative or activity designed to address specific health needs of school students, staff, and/or parents and the community. The awards are described below. See STEP 2 - Understanding the Minimum Submission Requirements on the Instructions and Applications page for specific requirements.


1.    Reaching for Excellence Grants: 4 Grants - $1,200 each
For any school or district that would like to begin a new health program or initiative using the funds from their grant, to improve the lifelong physical, mental and/or social well-being of students, staff or the greater school community.

2.    Discovery Award: 3 Awards - $1,500 each
For schools or districts with current health initiatives that have been in place for at least one full school year that address the lifelong physical, mental and/or social well-being of students, staff or the school community.

3.    Vanguard Award: 1 Award - $1,000
For schools/districts that have won a Discovery Award for Excellence in Texas School Health in a previous year with the program for which you are currently applying. Applicants will be expected to show expansion, enhancements or growth to their currently operating, winning program.


The Texas Pediatric Society Foundation Award:

4.    Award of Achievement: 3 awards - $1000 each
To be considered for this award you must have innovative and effective school or district-level programs or initiatives currently in place that have been successful in reducing obesity in adolescents by promoting nutrition and physical activity.

If the requirements in the description above are met, applicants applying for the Discovery or Vanguard awards would be eligible to receive the Award of Achievement and will be enrolled automatically – no application is necessary.



Dr. Bernstein

Dr. Robert Bernstein was a former commissioner of the Texas Department of Health, former president of the Texas Health Foundation and board/executive committee member of the Texas Health Institute. One of Dr. Bernstein’s favorite projects was the Awards for Excellence in Texas School Health program. He started the award program in 1989 and presented awards to winners at every annual awards ceremony until his death in 2007.

To win the Robert M. Bernstein (RMB) Special Recognition Award, a school or district must:

  • Year one:  Be awarded a Reaching for Excellence grant
  • Year two:  Implement and evaluate your new program for one entire school year
  • Year three:  Using the same program or initiative, apply for and win a Discovery Award; and finally,
  • Year four or five:  Using the same program or initiative, apply for and win the Vanguard Award.

  • No application is necessary.  You are automatically enrolled when you recieve a Reaching for Excellence grant. 

  • The RMB Special Recognition Award is a progressive way to grow and maintain a new or emerging program or initiative. 

  • The RMB Special Recognition Award supports building and improving a successful program or initiative as it grows each year to its full potential. 

  • Winners will be given a RMB Special Recognition Award plaque, an all-weather, 3X5  banner for display, and their school’s/district’s name will be permanently displayed on a perpetual plaque in the lobby of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Bernstein Building.



2015 Awards for Excellence banner

Click on the following categories to access an application and instructions and learn about the programs of previous award winners:


Winning Programs


2016 Award Timeline


February 1, 2016
Applications available

April 29, 2016
Application deadline

May 23, 2016 Winners notified



Special Bonus

Applications are awarded points based on a pre-determined set of criteria. Special consideration in the form of extra points will be given to those applicants that implement or plan for policy and/or environmental change with a focus on nutrition and/or physical activity.


The following guiding principles form the basis from which the program is developed, promoted and implemented each year:

Promoting positive health behaviors in children to minimize the impact of chronic health conditions in adults.

Supporting the philosophy that health promotion must start in early childhood when development of lifetime behaviors and skills begin.

Recognizing that school staff can and do play an influential role in modeling positive health behaviors for students.

Rewarding schools that demonstrate on-going commitment to preventive practices and collaboration among students, staff and the community at large.

Funding schools that would like to start a new program or initiative to improve the lifelong health of students, staff and the greater school community.


NOTE:  The Awards for Excellence program is open to all Texas public, private, or charter school districts or individual campuses.  The program is not open to higher education institutions or other organization unless they are implementing a program for the district within a school or district and they have the approval of the district School Health Advisory Council. For-profit organizations, using their product as the program they want to submit are not eligible to compete for an award.  Schools conducting a fundraiser for a non-profit or for-profit organization as the program they want to submit are not eligible to compete for an award.


Special Thanks to the organizations that provide funds for the Awards for Excellence program:

Texas Health Institute
identifies current problems and seeks preventive solutions that foster innovations and better the health of Texans. The mission of the Texas Health Instutute is to provide leadership to improve the health of Texans and their communities through education, research and health policy development.

Texas Pediatric Society Foundation
is a public foundation established exclusively to support charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes which made a positive contribution to the health, safety and welfare of children and adolescents.


Awards for Excellence Contact:
DSHS School Health Program
(512) 776-7279 phone
(512) 776-7555, Fax

Last updated February 11, 2016