Westfield Washington Schools Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator Kyle Miller is eager to put the district’s latest grant to good use.
The Indiana Dept. of Education recently announced Westfield Washington Schools was one of eight school districts to receive a Project AWARE, or Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education, grant. AWARE is a competitive grant opportunity for public and nonpublic schools to enhance social, emotional and mental health awareness and support for students. WWS, whose community health partner is St. Vincent Behavioral Health/Aspire, received a grant of $58,000.
WWS will use grant funds to increase the capacity of all staff members to utilize systems of student support to detect and respond effectively to the social, emotional and mental health needs of students in an equitable and culturally responsive way.
“We know, and decades of scientific research supports, that in order for deep learning to occur, students must first feel safe, affirmed and have a strong sense of belonging,” Miller said. “The Project AWARE grant provides a great opportunity for us to continually build our toolbox as educators to cultivate inclusive learning environments while also removing barriers for students and families to connect with mental health services.”
Expanded funding was made available through the project grant provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Activities funded by the grant include training for building level SEL and equity teams to increase awareness of the social, emotional and academic needs of all students, specifically bringing awareness to the needs of students from historically marginalized groups; training for district leadership to increase cultural awareness to ensure equitable and inclusive school environments for all students; and initiate a pilot Mental Health Services Scholarship program for uninsured, underinsured or economically disadvantaged students to increase access to mental health care.
“As we are coordinating our plans to welcome our students and staff back to school in August, we recognize that our efforts to reconnect must be very intentional,” WWS Supt. Sherry Grate said. “Our goal is to provide the safest and healthiest learning environment for our students and staff, removing all barriers leading to the most positive educational experience.”