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At Last! A New School Safety Grant

May 19

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Monday, May 19, 2014  RssIcon

Some grant programs change very little over time. If you wanted to know in 1984, for example, where fire departments got their funding to improve their firefighting operations, the answer would be firefighter grants, which, aside from a name change, are strikingly similar to the 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program grants, both of which trace their legislative authorization to the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of school safety funding. Even though it has been an ongoing concern at all levels of government, school safety grants have been as varied in focus, priority, and funding levels as there have been programs ostensibly dealing with the problem. That would be fine, except that the programs have all seemed to come and go within a couple of years, with no clear continuity with subsequent programs.

The latest iteration of school safety funding is the recently released Project Prevent grants. These grants are an outgrowth of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood initiative, which, like the grant itself, focuses on children’s exposure to violence.

Program basics

The Project Prevent program is focused on increasing the capacity of schools in communities with pervasive violence to better address the needs of affected students and break the cycle of violence. It is heavily weighted toward providing mental health and other services for children who have been either witnesses, or victims themselves, of violence in their homes and communities, and its goal is to help reduce the well-documented long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harms that result from violence.

Projects must offer:

  • Access to school-based counseling services, or referrals to community-based counseling services, for assistance in coping with trauma or anxiety
  • School-based social and emotional supports for students to help address the effects of violence
  • Conflict resolution and other school-based strategies to prevent future violence
  • A safer and improved school environment, which may include, among others, activities to decrease the incidence of harassment, bullying, violence, gang involvement, and substance abuse.

Students in high poverty schools and Promise Zones are also a priority in this round of funding.

The Department of Education will be making approximately 20 awards of between $250,000 and $1 million, with the average award estimated to be $487,500. Only local educational agencies and charter schools that are considered LEAs under state law may apply.

Choose participating schools carefully

Considering this year’s priority on high poverty schools and the overall tenor of the program, it will be important to carefully choose which schools to include in your project. Although you may rightly see school violence as a district-wide, and indeed community-wide, problem, your application will be much more competitive if you restrict participation to only those schools with the highest free and reduced lunch rates (or other poverty indicators) and those where school violence is most prevalent or threatening. A school based in a poor neighborhood with documented high levels of gang activity, for example, would be a good one to focus on.

Of course, violence takes many forms, and you could use a wide range of factors to justify focusing on specific schools.

Work with the local police department

Police departments collect mounds of data that could prove helpful in substantiating the need for your project. Data on domestic violence, gang activity, assault, child abuse, and drug trafficking, for example barely need explanation as to how the violence associated with these offences affects children, although you should make the connection as explicit as possible in your proposal narrative!

Reducing the incidence of school violence also helps advance the peacekeeping interests of your local police department or sheriff’s office, and you’ll find they are actually thrilled to help you obtain the data you need to seek funding to join them in that effort.

Start early

The deadline for the program is June 30, so if you start now, you’ll have plenty of time to develop a project that will address your specific needs and issues and to develop a proposal that has a good chance of winning an award. Just be sure to keep your application narrative to no more than 50 double spaced 8.5” x 11” pages with 1” margins on all sides and 10-12 point Time New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial font!

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