Schools in Muskegon County just learned their students will receive a boost in mental health supports through a new, five year, 4.5 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Education. The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) is one of about 20 educational organizations selected nationally to earn the “Project Prevent” grant. The grant is designed to help prevent youth violence and the impact of violence in communities by integrating mental health supports in schools.
Locally known as “Project SAFE: A MYalliance Collaborative,” the effort will reinforce students’ positive behaviors and improve students’ social, emotional, and behavioral skills. MAISD Superintendent John Severson said the grant will strengthen the many community partnerships already in place in the county.
“We are extremely excited about this grant award and the numerous opportunities it brings to our schools and families. The positive impact of supporting our students’ mental health needs will spill over into our families and communities,” said Severson.
Five behavior systems coaches will be hired to increase the MAISD’s capacity to reach all students in Muskegon County over the next five years. “All of our schools will be invited to participate,” said Severson. The MAISD plans to deliver the support schools need to build long-lasting systems using proven practices through training, coaching, and technical assistance. Supports to meet student needs will be provided in partnership with the MYalliance Team.
Severson said this new grant builds upon an existing countywide MyAlliance Systems of Care grant that focuses on agencies working together to support the mental health needs of youth and families. According to Severson, these collaborative efforts, in partnership with organizations such as Hackley Community Care and HealthWest, have increased the number of behavioral clinicians inside schools from three to twenty-three in the last three years.
“Project SAFE will take us to that next step by helping us build effective systems to support true collaboration of proactive and responsive mental health supports inside our local schools,” said Severson.