U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $100,000 to Crazy Horse School on Pine Ridge Reservation to Recover From Multiple Student Suicides and Attempted Suicides

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U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $100,000 to Crazy Horse School on Pine Ridge Reservation to Recover From Multiple Student Suicides and Attempted Suicides

May 13, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Crazy Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $107,631. The grant will be used to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following numerous student suicide deaths and attempted suicides during the last couple of years.

This is the third Project SERV grant awarded to a school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first grant was awarded to Pine Ridge School and the second to Little Wound School—both to assist with recovery efforts following record high student suicides and attempted suicides. Since 2010, the Department has awarded more than $650,000 in Project SERV grants to the three schools, including Crazy Horse, on the reservation.

"The youth of this community represent its future," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., who was in Pine Ridge on Thursday for meetings and school visits. "The Department of Education is committed to helping this community recover from these tragedies. This grant will help Oglala educators strengthen the learning environment so that all students can reach their full potential."

Project SERV provides funding for local educational agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) that have experienced a significant violent or traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish a safe environment conducive to learning. There are two types of Project SERV awards—Immediate Services and Extended Services. Immediate Services grants provide emergency, short-term assistance to affected school districts or colleges and universities. Extended Services grants assist school districts and colleges and universities in carrying out the long-term recovery efforts that may be needed following a significant, traumatic event. To date, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded more than $44 million to 136 grantees, including Crazy Horse School, since the grants program began in 2001.

Specifically, Crazy Horse School will use its Immediate Services grant to hire two new counselors. Currently, there is one full-time counselor on staff who services grades 7-12 and also doubles as the academic counselor. The new counselors will assist, support and work closely with teachers, administrators and other staff to restore the learning environment.

Crazy Horse School is a rural school in the town of Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Reservation that serves approximately 250 students. In December 2014, the Pine Ridge Reservation Tribal government declared a state of emergency on the reservation after there were 17 attempted suicides in the previous month. From December 2014 to March 2015, nine people ages 12 to 24 committed suicides, and 103 more attempts were recorded. Several of these incidents directly impacted families of students at Crazy Horse School.

The Obama Administration is committed to finding solutions to the pressing problems that confront Native youth, with an emphasis on education, economic development, and health. Last year, the Department of Education, in coordination with the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education and the Bureau of Indian Education, brought together approximately 120 educators with local, state, and federal leaders to attend Oglala Lakota Living, Language and Learning: a Gathering of Pine Ridge Educators. The goal of the four convenings was to support a framework for further collaboration in addressing how schools could work together to better support Pine Ridge students.

Federal grants like the Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP) can also help Pine Ridge and others that apply. It supports preschool through college-level projects that help American Indian and Alaska Native youth prepare for college and careers. The Department recently announced that it will make $17.4 million in new awards in FY 2016, which is triple the $5.3 million that was provided last year.

President Obama's fiscal year 2017 budget request expands NYCP funding to $53 million and provides $350 million for Preschool Development Grants (PDG). The NYCP grants support the President's Generation Indigenous "Gen I" Initiative launched last year to help Native American youth, and the PDG program is aimed at helping to develop and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities, including planning grants to tribal governments.

Additionally, last November, eight federally recognized tribes collectively received nearly $2.5 million in grant awards to bolster their educational programs. The grants were funded through the Department of Education's State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program, and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Education's Tribal Education Department (TED) program.

To view a list of Project SERV grantees and award amounts, or to learn more about the program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html.