You only have to watch the news to see that violence in our schools is a real epidemic in this country. The causes are as varied as the incidents, but certainly the entire community is impacted by what goes on in school. Toward that end, the US Department of Education released the Project Prevent Grant Program funding opportunity to enable schools to address the needs of affected students and break the cycle of violence. It’s part of a larger effort for the past several years to understand and help reduce school violence that has included the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Project Prevent grant applicants have to be educational agencies and the focus is on creating a comprehensive program that serves all students at both the individual level and within the entire school environment.
However, it’s difficult to envision an anti-violence based project that doesn’t also include the local police department. It’s a partnership that has been going on for several years. Many schools systems have assigned School Resource Officers, part time or full time, who are there not only to intervene in incidents of violence, but also to provide positive interactions with students. Understanding that what happens at home and in the neighborhood directly impacts the school, the police department is often a partner with local schools in determining crime issues within the community and how they can be addressed effectively.
The Project Prevent program could be a great opportunity for a strong collaboration between the school and law enforcement to help reduce and prevent school violence. The funder anticipates awarding 20 grants with an average award of $487,500. Think of how much good can be done in your community with that amount.
The absolute priority for this grant is to assist schools in communities with pervasive violence to break the cycle of violence by better meeting the needs of affected students. The requirement is that each project MUST offer students ALL of the following: (1) access to school-based counseling or outside counseling services to assist in coping with trauma and anxiety; (2) school-based social and emotional support to address the effects of violence; (3) conflict resolution or other school-based strategies to prevent future violence; (4) a safer and improved school environment (which may include activities to decrease harassment, bullying, violence, gang involvement, and substance abuse).
Secondarily, priority will be given to projects that serve students in high poverty schools and/or projects in a federally designated Promise Zone.
The deadline for submission is June 30, 2014. If your jurisdiction meets the criteria listed and you know your department can be an effective partner in this project, contact your local school or school board and discuss this opportunity. Work with them to determine how the community can come together and improve the safety and security of the schools, and what part you can take in the process.
This is a good example of how important it is to broaden your search for grant opportunities. Don’t just look at what’s available through the Department of Justice, since many other federal departments provide grants that can assist law enforcement, often through partnerships and collaborations like this one. In fact, many federal grants require cooperative projects that involve several agencies. While the job of a police department is to enforce laws and arrest criminals, effectively addressing crime often takes partners who understand the underlying causes of crime, take actions to mitigate those causes, and create opportunities to improve the lives of those impacted by crime.
For more information on the Project Prevent Grant Program, review the entire solicitation in the Federal Register or through grants.gov. The CFDA number is 84.184M (Department of Education).