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School Safety Grants and our Souls: Where do we go from here?

“Does it ever give thee pause, that people used to have a soul—not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as a truth that they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then…but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls…we shall have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us.” I love this quote from Thomas Carlyle, author of Past and Present, and think it speaks to all of us still in the current turmoil of political unrest and ignorant bullying in the world, via social media or other ways. I happened upon it in a fantastic book I’ve wanted to read for a long time, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book is historical fiction written through letters about the effects of the German occupation on the inhabitants of Guernsey in the Channel Islands during World War II. Don’t hesitate to read it; you will both laugh and cry if you have a soul.

In the current world of school violence, I worry about our souls and a seemingly dwindling lack of action, sympathy, and empathy in society. Where do we go from here? The world of federal school safety action and grants has been a roller coaster ride. For instance, the National Institute of Justice Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) grant was announced in early 2018, and then revoked. This funding was assigned to other purposes under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 and the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (STOP School Violence Act). Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held the first School Safety Commission meeting behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. without input from teachers, students, parents, and school administrators. Outcomes of this commission are currently unknown. Below are ten tips for understanding and finding school safety funding.

  • Read R.4909 – STOP School Violence Act of 2018.
  • Recognize the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for possible school safety funding. This law replaces the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Funding within the ESEA Consolidated grant application includes: Title I (Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged); Title II-A (Effective Teachers & Leaders); Title IV-A (Student Support & Academic Enrichment); and RLIS (Rural and Low-Income School).
  • RLIS allowable grant activities mirror those authorized under Title I-A, Title II-A, and Title IV-A. If schools receive federal Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) funds, they cannot receive RLIS funds also in a single fiscal year. RLIS allowable activities are those authorized under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Program to combat drug abuse and violence. Allowable expenses include counseling, staff training, metal detectors, hiring security personnel, conflict resolution, mentoring, referral services, peer mediation, character education, community service projects, and safe zones for students to go back and forth between school. RLIS funds can also be used to encourage safe and healthy students under Title IV-A.
  • Title IV-A (Student Support & Academic Enrichment) supports all students in receiving a well-rounded education, improved school conditions for learning, and effective use of technology. The improved school conditions for learning includes safe and healthy students. Congress has increased the Title IV-A federal appropriation from $400 million for FY18 to $1.1 billion for FY19. Talk to your state Title IV-A specialist about including school safety measures in this grant such as metal detectors, parent messenger services to increase parental involvement, counseling, school-based mental health services, improving school climates, dropout prevention, supporting re-entry or transition for justice-involved students, anti-bullying or anti-harassment programs, and building community partnerships. One other funding possibility for Title IV-A is building relationship and social skills to improve safety and prevent violence, abuse, or coercion. Here is information on Title IV-A funding in New York.
  • Many state education departments such as Arizona are offering School Safety Program grants, which fund School Resource Officers (SROs), Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs), and Law-Related Education (LRE) training. Other states offer similar grant programs which also fund mental health counseling, metal detectors, police radios, cameras, and more.
  • The COPS School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) has $25 million federal dollars allocated towards school security measures such as metal detectors, lighting, locks, law enforcement collaboration, training, and technology for expediting law enforcement responses during emergencies. More information can be found here.
  • Funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will support school safety measures such as anonymous reporting systems (websites, hotlines, mobile telephone applications), school threat assessments, and mental health crisis training.
  • Look for state Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grants such as this one in Ohio, School Security Equipment grants like this one in Virginia, the Homeland Security Indiana Secured School Grant Fund, and Safe Schools Targeted Grants such as this one in Pennsylvania.
  • The National Institutes of Health Youth Violence Prevention Interventions that Incorporate Racism/Discrimination Prevention (RO1 Clinical Trial Required) grant targets middle and high school aged populations.
  • Here are a few corporate and private foundation funders who support school safety initiatives: Cisco Foundation, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, Target Community Giving Program, Aetna Foundation, and Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

 

Whew, I think that’s enough information overload. Now let’s get out there and do everything we can to prevent school violence and ensure we all retain our souls. Eleonora Duse says, “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.”

 

What questions do you have about being successful in securing school safety grants? Let us know! We’ll help answer your questions and can help secure grants to meet your school district’s safety goals.

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About The Author
Dr. Judy Riffle owns Santa Cruz Grants & Consulting, LLC. She is a former teacher, university mentor, and administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education, and educational leadership. Besides being the Grant Professionals Association Southern Arizona chapter Treasurer, she also serves on the GPA Grant News Publications Subcommittee and the Grant Professionals Foundation Marketing Committee. You can contact her on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-judy-riffle-b580aa17.

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