Student Well-Being

Districts to Promote Student Resilience Using $5 Million in New Federal Grants

By Evie Blad — September 15, 2016 2 min read
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The Baltimore, Chicago, and St. Louis school districts have been awarded a total of $5 million through a new federal grant program that promotes school-based efforts to nurture students’ resilience following community unrest.

Here’s how the U.S. Department of Education describes the program:

The new discretionary grant program—Promoting Student Resilience (PSR)—provides funding to school districts or a consortia of school districts to establish school-based mental-health, counseling and behavioral programs for students who have experienced trauma because of demonstrations of mass protest/civil unrest. Funding helps school districts create, strengthen, and maintain safe and supportive learning environments."

Baltimore’s schools, which faced fallout after the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody, will use its $2.37 million grant to work with the University of Maryland, the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins University, Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore, and community organizations to “expand its capacity to effectively address the behavioral and mental health needs of students affected by trauma.”

The district will employ full-time mental health professionals at 13 schools most affected by trauma related to recent civil unrest; provide professional development to staff, parents, and community members on how to recognize and respond to trauma; and provide improved school supports for students affected by trauma.

Chicago, which has seen large public demonstrations related to police shootings of black men in recent years, will use a $1.27 million grant to start the Healing Trauma Together program, which will help 10 high schools meet their students’ behavioral and mental health needs. The program will also provide professional development for support personnel, build stronger referral processes for student services, educate parents about the effects of trauma, and connect students to community mental health providers.

St. Louis, the site of prolonged demonstrations after the police-shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, will use $1.45 million in grant funding to create “trauma-focused programs” in a group of public and private elementary schools around the region. The program, which will also be funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, aims to “increase the number of students who are identified, screened, and referred to school-based and community-based mental health services” and assist other schools in boosting their responses to student trauma.

Related reading on student trauma:

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.