The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded Chicago Public Schools (CPS) an Immediate Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling nearly $50,000. The grant will provide assistance for recovery efforts following 35 shootings this past year at four high schools in the Greater Englewood community.
Project SERV grants provide critical support to districts that have experienced a significant traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish safe environments for students. The Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded more than $29 million to 99 grantees, including CPS, since the grant program began in 2001.
"These grants provide support to students, educators and communities impacted by these senseless shootings," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "Tragic events damage students and entire communities, and disrupt teaching and learning. These funds will support Chicago schools as they continue to recover from these acts of violence and work to make the community safer so all children can live free of fear."
Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the nation, has been impacted by the city's violence this past year. Numerous students have been shot on their way to and from their schools, and reactions and responses to the violence have resulted in high rates of disciplinary infractions, gang incidents, and fights and arrests. There also has been an increase in the amount of instructional time lost due to an increased number of suspensions and high absenteeism rates.
CPS applied for a Project SERV grant to support a project designed to restore the learning environment and immediately respond to any acts of violence that would affect teaching and learning. CPS proposes to build from its Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports model of behavior management and its Response-to-Intervention model. These strategies provide academic support to create a responsive counseling program that integrates the principles of psychological first aid, conflict resolution and trauma-informed practice.
Project SERV would provide funding for a coach to train practitioners, organized into school-based teams, to identify, assess and manage student responses to violence, grief and loss. The school-based teams that comprise the counseling program will provide services and implement activities designed to reduce conflict, promote coping and healing, and facilitate teaching and learning.