September 15, 2016

Cardin, Mikulski, Cummings, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes Strongly Applaud New Federal Grant for Schools Affected by Unrest Following Death of Freddie Gray

BALTIMORE – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski and Representatives Elijah Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (All D-Md.) today strongly lauded an announcement that Baltimore City Public Schools will receive more than $2.374 million in funding through the U.S. Department of Education Promoting Student Resilience grant program. The grant will allow city public schools to more effectively meet the behavioral and mental health needs of students in areas that have been most affected by the civil disturbance after the death of Freddie Gray last year.

“Immediately following Freddie Gray’s death, we sat with and listened to the Baltimore communities that were most affected by the resulting unrest and promised to work hard to help them rebuild. The Obama Administration also pledged its unflagging support. We already have seen several examples of the strength of that support from the Department of Education, and this latest grant further underscores the strength of the federal commitment to helping Baltimore,” said Senator Cardin. “This funding will increase the ability of Baltimore City Public Schools to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of students affected by trauma so they have the opportunity to enter the classroom ready to learn. I’m proud to have led the members of Baltimore’s congressional delegation to urge the Department of Education to provide these critical funds for city students.”

“Education is the opportunity ladder of this nation. Every child deserves their chance to get a foothold on that ladder,” said Senator Mikulski. “After the unrest in Baltimore last year, I stood shoulder to shoulder with our community leaders in Baltimore, my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to come up with comprehensive solutions to systemic problems in our city and across the country. These federal dollars will make sure that Baltimore schools have the resources and tools necessary to address the behavioral and mental health needs of students affected by trauma after last year’s unrest. I will continue fighting to make sure Baltimore’s students and families have access to quality education and care they can depend on in order to succeed.”

“Unfortunately, some of our young people in Baltimore are exposed to violence, loss and other traumatic experiences at a very young age,” said Congressman Cummings. “Thanks to the Department of Education’s grant award, these schools will have the resources needed to provide our most vulnerable young people with critical mental and behavioral health care.”

“In today's economy, this is exactly the type of common sense, basic government investment our constituents expect us to prioritize. I can think of few better uses of funds than to make sure our children - especially those that need behavioral and mental help - enter the classroom ready to learn,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “This is an investment in our students and our community.”

“This new grant funding will help Baltimore schools provide better behavioral and mental health services for students affected by last year’s unrest,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We must make the necessary investments to strengthen our city’s communities and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Maryland Delegation and with the Obama Administration to secure adequate resources for Baltimore City schools.”

The $2.374-million will provide for the hiring of a full-time mental health clinician at each of the 13 schools that have been most affected by last year’s civil disturbance, as well as a full-time Trauma Manager and two full-time trainers. In total, these funds will improve the capacity of services available more than 4,600 students. These funds will be utilized at Eutaw Marshburn Elementary School; William Pinderhughes Elementary/Middle School; Matthew A. Henson Elementary School; Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School; John Eager Howard Elementary School; Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School; Gilmor Elementary School; Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary School; Furman Templeton Elementary School; Booker T. Washington Middle School; Excel Academy Middle/High School; New Song Academy Elementary/Middle School; and Renaissance Academy High School.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Promoting Student Resilience program provides funding to local education agencies to build and increase their capacity to address the comprehensive behavioral and mental health needs of students in communities that have experienced significant civil unrest in the past 24 months.

This is the third Department of Education grant awarded to Baltimore City Public Schools since April 2015. The Department has awarded two Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grants, totaling nearly $645,000. Project SERV provides funding for local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that have experienced a significant violent or traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish a safe environment conducive to learning.

The first Project SERV grant, totaling nearly $293,000, was awarded in January 2016. The grant was used to hire additional full-time social workers and psychologists to support the efforts to restore the learning environment at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School, Frederick Douglass Senior High School, Gilmor Elementary School, Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School and William Pinderhughes Elementary/Middle School.

The second Project SERV grant, providing approximately $352,000, was awarded earlier this month to Renaissance Academy High School after the tragic deaths of three students over the course of the 2015 – 2016 school year. Project SERV funds will allow Renaissance Academy to contract with mentors who will provide support to students. In addition, the school will hire a dedicated door monitor for one of its entrances, as well as a staff person to make home visits to discuss attendance with chronically absent students who are too afraid or too angry to come to school because of violence. In addition, Renaissance Academy also will implement several training and development programs for faculty and staff that will cover topics such as restorative practices, trauma informed care, and mental health.