The Department of Education has announced $71.4 million in school safety grants to support mental health initiatives, while the Department of Justice has awarded a further $85.3 million between STOP School Violence Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Last December, the Federal Commission on School Safety published its Final Report on best practices to make schools safer. To compile the report, Commissioners conducted field visits, held listening sessions, and met with hundreds of individuals with a role to play in school safety (i.e. state and local policymakers, administrators, teachers, law enforcement and healthcare professionals, etc.).
As a result of these field visits, listening sessions, and meetings, the Commission´s recommendations are divided into three broad categories:
- Preventing school violence
- Protecting students and mitigating the effects of school violence
- Responding to and recovering from school violence
The majority of the report focuses on prevention - especially in the areas of creating positive school climates and improving student access to mental health services - and each chapter ends with a series of recommendations. Some of the recommendations are directed at the federal government and local authorities, while others expand on what school districts can do to improve school safety.
DeVos Invites Applications for School Safety Grants
In June this year - and in response to the report´s recommendations - U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos invited Local Education Agencies to apply for a share of $65 million in school safety grants. The grants were divided between three programs:
The School Climate Transformation Grant Program ($40 million)
This program provides funds to Local Education Agencies to develop, enhance, and expand systems of support for schools implementing strategies to promote a positive school culture.
The Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program ($15 million)
This program promotes partnerships between colleges and universities and high-need school districts to expand the pipeline of trained school-based mental health services providers.
The Project Prevent Grant Program ($10 million)
This program helps Local Education Agencies identify, assess, and serve students exposed to pervasive violence, and the funds should be put towards supporting conflict resolution programs and implementing other school-based prevention strategies.
Due to the number - and worthiness - of applicants, the school safety grants actually awarded in each program amounted to $42.4 million, $11 million, and $11.3 million respectively, while a further $6.7 million was awarded to five states in order to fund programs that help students from low income families access trauma-specific mental health services.
Department of Justice Awards $85 Million under STOP School Violence Act
School safety grants are also awarded under the “Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act” (aka the STOP School Violence Act). The Act authorizes the Department of Justice to award grants of up to $1 million to states, local governments, and Indian tribes in order to improve safety and security on school premises by one or more of the following measures:
- Placement and use of metal detectors and other deterrent measures, and emergency notification and response technologies.
- Training to prevent student violence against others and themselves, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students.
- The development and operation of anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile applications, hotlines, and websites.
- The development and operation of school threat assessment and intervention teams as well as specialized mental health training for school officials.
In the most recent rounds of school safety grants, the Department of Justice awarded nearly $53 million via Office of Justice Programs and a further $32.5 million under the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services' School Violence Prevention Program. Typically the awards account for up to 75 percent of the cost of each school safety measure.
The Corporate World also Supports School Safety
Whereas the programs supported in the latest round of school safety grants came as a result of the Federal Commission on School Safety's report and STOP School Violence Act, there are many other grants made available by both federal and state governments the year round. Websites such as the Grant Plant are good sources of information for upcoming grants by area.
In addition to federal and state agencies awarding school safety grants, the corporate world is also keen to support communities and public safety. Millions of dollars are awarded each year in grants by corporations such as Walmart, Target, Lowe, Home Depot, and Costco - Costco being particularly receptive to organizations focusing on children, education, and/or health and human services.
Are you looking into your school safety solutions? Consider taking a look at our school safety EBook to see where your school is hitting the mark, and where your school may be falling short. A school safety grant may help reach the goals your K-12 is looking to accomplish.
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