2019 All-America City Finalist – Battle Creek, MI

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

Over the last few years, Battle Creek has developed a community vision, born from recent, ongoing projects for positive change.

BCVision is a collaborative initiative that has served as the convener to bring together cross-sector relationships in Battle Creek since 2015. With a focus on equitable practices, BCVision’s goal is to create a thriving community where there is equitable opportunity for all community members to have the income, education and resources they need to be successful. This work is completed through many committees and partner workgroups coming together to tackle some of the most difficult barriers to the community in the areas of jobs, talent, and culture of vitality.

Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:


1.) Operation Fit: Improving Health and Wellness in Schools

Operation Fit is a healthy community initiative of Bronson Battle Creek, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Regional Health Alliance, and the Battle Creek Family YMCA. The goal of Operation Fit is to decrease childhood obesity in Calhoun County.

The key priorities of Operation Fit include:

  • Increase physical activity
  • Improve nutrition and lunch environment
  • Cultivate focused support systems

A key focus has been actively improving nutrition and lunch environments in schools by collaborating with school administration, staff, and community health partners. Bronson Battle Creek has partnered over the past four years to help schools provide educational cooking demonstrations with sample tastings and provide take-home ingredients. Last year alone, Bronson Battle Creek completed 20 cooking demonstrations. So far, 2,967 students, families, and friends have attended.

Additionally, school staff and student wellness teams have been created. School staff and student wellness teams participate in monthly fitness, mental health and nutrition challenges.

Students self-reported a 15% increase in activity after school and a 15% increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Teachers’ perceptions have improved with 72.6% feeling positive about morning movement, brain breaks, and indoor recesses, and 89.7% reporting that students are more focused after movement.

Operation Fit Mileage Club concluded 2018 with 20 participating schools with a total of 6,341 students and a combined total of 28,023.77 miles or 4.42 miles per student.


2.) Crisis Intervention Team

Law enforcement are typically the first on the scene of a mental health crisis. Battle Creek Police Department (BCPD) and Summit Pointe recognized that it is necessary to provide law enforcement with tools to better address these situations.

The BCPD and Summit Pointe collaborated to formalize and implement the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)—a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, local hospital professionals, the prosecutor’s office, and community members who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families, and advocates. The program encourages that appropriate treatment be sought rather than placing individuals in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors.

During CIT training, officers learned the common signs of mental illness, recognized when those signs represent a crisis, and learned how to safely de-escalate individuals experiencing behavioral health crises by utilizing community resources and diversion strategies.

As local law enforcement and first responders participated, it became apparent that behavioral health staff needed to develop an understanding of the role of the law enforcement community. Law enforcement provided training to front-line behavioral health workers on law enforcement culture. Behavioral staff had ride-along shifts with officers and officers had home visits with case managers.

The CIT program has had these outcomes:

  • 366 CIT interventions;
  • 60 of those individuals could have been arrested—yet all but 6 were able to be diverted to local mental health services;
  • 161 individuals were voluntarily transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation; and
  • 39 incidents were resolved on scene.


3.) School Behavioral Health Collaborative

In 2017 a study brought to light many concerns with the schools in Battle Creek. Additionally, several behavioral crisis events occurred at the district, making it clear that the school district needed to engage the community.

The Battle Creek Public School District, Battle Creek Community Foundation, BC Vision, and Regional Health Alliance responded to these concerns by convening over a dozen community partners with the following goals in mind:

  • Engage community partners in addressing behavioral health issues;
  • Learn what types of troubling behaviors are being experienced and what protocols are in place for addressing these behaviors; and
  • Create a cross-systems protocol that results in pathways for families and children to receive services.

The School Behavioral Health Collaborative was created as a multi-sector collaborative that utilizes trauma-informed practices to support the social and emotional well-being of children in Battle Creek, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all kids are able to learn.

A shared vision has been created to ensure that all BCPS children are socially and emotionally supported and ready to learn. In support of this vision, four areas of work have been developed: Peer Review, Child Fusion, Chronic Absenteeism, and School Climate. Additionally, a “Parent Academy” has been established to encourage family participation; local nonprofits are providing support beyond the school day; and a partnership between the school district and the BCPD now notifies the school of any children who may need additional support based on circumstances that led to contact with police officers.

Some Related Posts

View All

Thank You to Our Key Partners