Today, in response to the tragic mass shooting that occurred at Michigan’s Oxford High School in November 2021, the U.S. Department of Education disbursed a School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grant totaling $707,600 to Oxford Area Community School District (OACSD). The grant will be used to support ongoing efforts that improve the safety and well-being of students, staff, and families at Oxford High School. These funds also will help to provide counseling and mental health services to students and school staff.
“Helping school communities recover from gun violence takes time, compassion, and resources,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “This Project SERV grant will help Oxford High School improve mental health supports for students and educators directly impacted by the trauma and tragedy of last year’s mass shooting. As the Biden-Harris administration works to strengthen gun safety and implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the Department of Education remains as committed as ever to helping schools restore safe learning environments for all students.”
Project SERV funds are authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and may be used for activities that help restore a sense of safety and security for a district’s students, teachers, staff, and families, and that address specific needs of those individuals directly affected by tragic events. Such activities include mental health services for staff and students, and overtime pay for teachers, counselors, and security staff, and may take place over the summer in the form of additional summer programming.
The Department’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools (OSSS) contacted OACSD soon after the Nov. 30, 2021, incident to offer support. OSSS maintained communication with OACSD in the months following the incident to explore how Project SERV funds could best support the district and to provide technical assistance throughout the grant application process.
The Department’s Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center (REMS) builds the preparedness capacity (including prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts) of schools, school districts, colleges, and their community partners at the local, state, and federal levels; and serves as the primary source of information for schools, school districts, and colleges for emergencies. REMS has developed a variety of resources and trainings designed to offer schools a way to prevent and reduce targeted violence. The National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments offers information and technical assistance focused on improving school climate and conditions for learning.
Earlier this month, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which provides vital funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country, including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence.