U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $6.4 Million in Grants to Connecticut’s Newtown Public School District to Further Support Recovery Efforts

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U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $6.4 Million in Grants to Connecticut’s Newtown Public School District to Further Support Recovery Efforts

Newtown grant among largest Project SERV grants ever awarded

September 3, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education today announced it is awarding an additional $3.1 million to Newtown Public School District to help with ongoing recovery efforts over the next two school years in response to the tragic shootings at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. This award, combined with a $1.3 million grant for the 2012-13 school year and a $1.9 million grant for the 2013-14 school year, brings the total awarded to Newtown to more than $6.4 million—one of the largest Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grants ever awarded.

As a result of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, President Obama developed Now Is the Time, an initiative to keep schools and communities safe and to help prevent future tragedies such as the one in Newtown. Since announcing the plan in January 2013, the president and his administration have taken a number of steps to help keep our kids and communities safer. While Now Is the Time is designed to prevent violence, sadly, it will still occur. The Project SERV grants will help students, families and communities that have suffered senseless, violent acts recover and heal from them.

This grant is awarded through the Department’s Project SERV program, which awards Immediate Services and Extended Services grants to school districts, colleges and universities that have experienced a significant traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish safe environments for students.

“We are continuing to support Newtown’s recovery efforts,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This additional grant will assist with ongoing efforts and immediate needs to help the community heal after this terrible tragedy that Americans will never forget.”

While the two Immediate Services grants—$1.3 million and $1.9 million—addressed the needs of the entire school community, the $3.1 million Extended Services grant is more narrowly focused on students and staff who were directly impacted by the incident. Most families kept their children enrolled in Newtown Public Schools. These students need continued monitoring and additional services/support.

Based on a comprehensive needs assessment that the district conducted, the sense that school is an unsafe place still pervades the community, and severe posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students’ performance in and outside of the classroom. The assessment showed that while progress has been achieved since the time of the incident, additional services are needed to restore the learning environment. The $3.1 million Extended Services Project SERV grant will be used to offer additional services that include trauma education on how trauma impacts learning and behaviors; trauma- and grief-focused counseling services; comprehensive individual and family therapies and resources that students, staff, and families can access in the community; and more.

The Department’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students administers the Project SERV grant program. It has awarded more than $42 million through 121 grants, including Newtown’s additional grant, since the program began in 2001. For more information about the Project SERV program, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html.

Here is what Connecticut officials are saying about Newtown’s newest award:

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut)
“Since that horrific December day, Newtown has rallied together in recovery, inspiring us all with their strength, compassion and courage. For the Sandy Hook community—the teachers, counselors, first responders, parents and students—recovery is a long road that may require continued attention and services. Since the days and hours immediately after this tragedy, the Department of Justice and Department of Education have been key partners, providing critical support and resources. This grant builds upon that comprehensive effort, extending critical support to Newtown survivors for an additional two years as students and teachers work to restore a learning environment. Newtown will be recovering for a long time, and I will work tirelessly to support them every step of the way. Services and help supported by these funds can help heal and ease the hurt, but will never erase the hole in our hearts.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut)
“The Department of Education has stepped up once again to ensure that the families and students who continue to feel the effects of the horrific shooting in Newtown get the help they need to cope with their unspeakable grief. In my mind, there’s no end to the amount of support we should provide to the Newtown community in response to one of our nation’s greatest tragedies, and I’ll keep fighting for additional resources for the amazing people of Newtown—they’re the definition of bravery and strength.”

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty (Congressional District 5)
“The unimaginable tragedy that occurred on December 14 still strikes hard at the core of the Newtown community. This grant will help Newtown’s educators, students and families heal, recover and provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our students. I am proud to assist in securing this additional grant to help with what we know will be long-term needs of the Newtown educational community who were and continue to be so deeply affected. As their Representative in Congress, I will continue to work hard to support this resilient community in every way that I can.”

U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (Congressional District 3)
“This funding will provide critical resources as the students, faculty and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary continue to cope with the tragedy they witnessed. It is also a reflection of the commitment the federal government has made to the Newtown community. Our schools should be safe havens—places where children can learn, grow and express themselves through their creativity and imaginations. This grant will go a long way in ensuring that will be the case once again for the children, teachers and administrators of Newtown.”

U.S. Rep. John B. Larson (Congressional District 1)
“I am pleased to see the Administration recognizing the needs of this community and commend the Department of Education for dedicating additional resources to helping Newton families and educators. Their commitment to helping rebuild a positive learning environment where students and educators feel safe to learn and grow has been essential, and we thank everyone involved for making good on the promise to never forget the lessons of that tragic day. I remain committed to working with the Connecticut Delegation to support Superintendent Erardi in his efforts in the Newtown community to provide students with the education they deserve.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (Congressional District 2):
“The healing process for the students, teachers and families of Newtown will be long, but the outpouring of support has shown the community that they are not alone. This continued commitment to providing services and support to those affected will assist the Newtown community as they move forward and endeavor to make our country a better and safer place for all children.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (Congressional District 4)
“It’s important that we keep helping the children, families, teachers and school staff who were affected by this heinous crime as they continue to recover and move forward. This funding shows how our nation can come together to help our fellow citizens heal after such a horrific tragedy, and I commend the Department of Education for providing this assistance.”