The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded Anoka Hennepin Independent School District 11 in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, a $49,641 Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following the suicide deaths of nine students since September 2009. The students were from six different schools within the district.
Project SERV grants provide funding to school districts and institutions of higher education that have experienced a traumatic event and need resources to respond to the after effects and re-establish a safe learning environment. The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded more than $27 million to 85 grantees, including District 11, since the grants program began in 2001.
"When unfortunate events disrupt the lives of students and schools, it's vital that the learning process continue," Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, says. "Project SERV provides districts and institutions of higher learning with resources to help respond in a timely manner.
"Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans ages 15-24. And 6 percent of all high school students report having attempted suicide, with nearly 14 percent of them saying that they have seriously considered it," adds Jennings, who serves on the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. "Schools need resources not only to respond to but also to prevent suicides. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is an excellent resource."
Anoka Hennepin Independent School District 11 (located in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities) is the largest school district in the state of Minnesota. It serves more than 38,000 students in grades K-12. The school district requested funding to help restore the learning environment through additional support services for students and staff. Since the deaths of the nine students, district prevention staff, psychologists, counselors, social workers and student learning advocates continue to report very high numbers of at-risk students suffering from depression and mental health issues. Several suicide attempts also have been reported.
To view a list of Project SERV grantees and award amounts, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html, and to learn more about the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, visit http://www.sprc.org.