Preparing to apply for the COPS School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) Grant
Preparing to apply for the COPS School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) Grant

By Sam Rawdon, Grants Development Associate (K-12 School Safety)

School safety has been a primary concern for school districts over the past several years. In the wake of tragic events such as the Uvalde school shooting in 2022, K-12 school districts have made it a priority to improve the physical security of their school buildings. However, funding was not always readily available until the Stop School Violence Act of 2018. An important result of this act was the STOP School Violence Prevention Program, or SVPP, a federal grant program that provides K-12 school districts, state and local governments, and Tribes the financial means to improve the physical security of their schools through evidence-based school safety programs and technology. In fiscal year 2023, up to $73 million was available for potential applicants, with future funding available through 2028.

For all intents and purposes, Federal grant programs such as SVPP are extremely competitive and could potentially be intimidating to apply for, since applicants will be going up against a multitude of school districts, state and local governments, and Tribes throughout the country. In addition, a plethora of requirements are needed to apply. With an anticipated deadline date of sometime in May 2024, it is never too early to prepare the application process for SVPP. In other words, it is much easier to take off with a longer runway than a shorter one. There are several ways that K-12 school districts can effectively prepare ahead of applying for this program.

Possibly the most vital step to take is to make sure that the school district has a confirmed and updated System of Award Management (SAM) number, alternatively known as a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number. This number allows organizations to conduct business with the federal government, or in this case, apply for federal grants through Without this number, potential applicants cannot apply for federal funding. For K-12 school districts, the business or financial office will have a working knowledge of this number and is usually responsible for keeping it up to date once per year. In the event a school district does not have a SAM/UEI number, a district can register for one by accessing Note that registration and renewal of a SAM/UEI number can take up to ten business days.

Another key step for school districts to take is to obtain vendor quotes for any physical security-related technology they are looking to implement. This is primarily done for budgetary purposes, as an application requirement for SVPP includes submitting a budget with estimated costs of any school safety technology and how the grant award will fit into the school district’s budget. It is best for a school district to request funding specifically for the technology that they need, rather than asking for less or more funding. This is key because most grants generally have reported requirements post-award and any deficit or surplus in grant funds can hurt a school district’s chances of obtaining grant funding in the future or cause them to lose their funding altogether.

One aspect of the application requires collecting raw data regarding the total number of incidents that occurred at the schools within the district’s jurisdiction and were reported to local law enforcement. Typically, these include attacks, guns/firearms/explosives, illegal drugs, theft, vandalism, and knives reported at school buildings. Other data that can be collected is crime statistics in the district’s jurisdiction. This data is required to determine the district’s need for federal assistance in reducing or eliminating school violence.

Lastly, a school district should reach out to their local law enforcement agency. This should be the agency that will respond to an emergency call in the event of an incident, whether that be the county sheriff’s office or the local police department. A requirement for applying for SVPP is to obtain a letter of support, or LOS, from this local law enforcement agency. This letter is intended to show the local law enforcement’s planned involvement in the program, as well as showing their support in the district’s efforts to improve their overall security, whether that is through evidence-based practices or physical security technology related to improving their security. It is also strongly recommended that school districts obtain a LOS from a mental health advocate that either the district employs or one in the local community. These can include school social workers, counselors, or school psychologists.

K-12 schools can apply for and obtain Federal funding through SVPP to improve the overall physical security of their school facilities. They can easily prepare for this now by taking some preliminary steps. Having a confirmed and updated SAM number will allow districts to apply through without any hiccups. Obtaining vendor quotes will fulfil the budgetary requirements of the application and will demonstrate how the technology will fit into the grant. Collecting raw data about any reported incidents on school grounds, as well as crime statistics in the area the district serves, will determine the district’s need for federal funding in helping to reduce or eliminate school violence. Last, involving local law enforcement and, optionally mental health professionals, through letters of support will show community involvement and cooperation in the efforts to curb school violence at a district level. As the old saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm”, and this is most certainly true for SVPP.