In March, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan – a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package which, like previous stimulus packages, provides substantial funding for the education sector. We subsequently invited a panel of experts to discuss funding school safety initiatives via grant programs and recorded the discussion for an on-demand webinar.
The webinar starts with Chris Pavasaris – Rave’s Government Affairs Specialist – providing an overview of the economic stimulus package and the $122 billion being allocated to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) to enable schools to reopen safely and support in-person education.
Chris also discusses some other sources for technology, collaboration, and school safety funding, such as Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative and the DOJ’s COPS and STOP School Violence programs. Chris notes that Rave customers have previously taken advantage of these programs to enhance communication with public safety agencies and emergency services.
How to Access Grant Program Funds
Chris then hands over to David Kondrup to explain how schools can access grant program funds. David has extensive experience with grant writing and starts his section of the webinar by explaining the lifecycle of a grant process and where to look for grant opportunities. David suggests not just looking at federal grants, but also state grants and private grants.
David continues his explanation with a walk-through of the grants.gov website, highlighting some of the different types of grants schools can apply for and noting that, although these are federal grant programs, some grant applications are processed at state level and this may bring forward the date by which grant applications have to be submitted.
Concluding his section, David focuses on the importance of studying eligibility criteria and being familiar with the grants process in advance so that when a funding opportunity is announced, schools and school districts are prepared to submit their applications quickly. Often, the window of opportunity may be too short to submit a qualifying application from scratch in the time allowed.
Grants to Accelerate Emergency Responses
In the next section of the webinar, Rave’s West Coast State and Local Account Executive – Kristin Ruth – discusses Rave Mobile Safety’s school safety solutions and how they tie into the grant application process. Kristin is also a K-12 specialist, and she starts her section of the webinar by running through the capabilities of the Rave platform and how they support school safety initiatives.
Kristin explains that one of the most commonly used capabilities of the platform is the Rave Panic Button because it accelerates emergency responses. Her practical demo of a panic button activation shows how valuable minutes can be saved in emergencies such as an active assailant event by simultaneously notifying 911, on-site personnel, and other stakeholders of the emergency event.
In the context of funding school safety initiatives via grant programs, one of the most relevant points of Kristin’s demo is that the Rave Panic Button app integrates with existing CAP-compatible school safety technology. Therefore, schools can apply for funding to strengthen school safety rather than replace it, which will increase the likelihood of an application being accepted.
Advice from a Grant Recipient
For the final section of the webinar, Kristin leads a Q and A session with Jennifer Coronel – the Program Manager for Student Support at the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. Jennifer is responsible for implementing school safety initiatives in the San Diego school district, and last year she and Kristin worked together to successfully apply for a COPS school safety program grant.
Prompted by Kristin’s questions, Jennifer explains how the school district identified gaps in school safety, developed plans to increase threat awareness, and then created goals to improve relationships with local police forces, develop district-wide threat assessment protocols and staff training, and fill gaps in school safety technology that could support the protocols and training.
Because most school staff had their mobile phones with them at all times, Jennifer found that mobile panic button apps were the most effective way to meet her goals; and, after evaluating a number of solutions, she settled on the Rave Panic Button app due to its capability of enhancing non-emergency internal communication.
At the conclusion of the Q and A, Kristen asks Jennifer if she has any tips for funding school safety initiative via grant programs. Jennifer repeats David’s advice of being familiar with the grants process in advance and prepared to submit grant applications quickly, and also to hire an experienced grant writer – as navigating the grants.gov website can be a long-winded experience.
You can watch the whole webinar on demand via this link. However, as it is an on demand recording of the webinar, you will not be able to participate in the closing Q and A section. Therefore, if you have any questions relating to funding school safety initiatives via grant programs, do not hesitate to get in touch and speak with one of our school safety team.