Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $999,999)
Legal Name & Project Title: Strategic Solutions For Families Solid Ground School Violence Prevention Program
Geographic Location: Mississippi –Washington County, City of Greenville
Category 1: Project Sites
Summary: Strategic Solutions For Families is working in collaboration and partnership with Greenville Public School District and a local domestic violence agency to increase school safety by preventing and reducing school violence. There are nearly 4,300 students in K-12 in the target district. At 15%, school suspensions are 12% higher than the state average and YRBS data shows the percentage of high school students who carried a weapon on school property in Mississippi is 86% than the nation. High crime rate, low parental involvement and high poverty in the community compound the issues. The primary objectives are to: 1) Improve school capacity to prevent and intervene early to incidents of violence; 2) Enhance and expand partnerships between school systems and community-based organizations to address school violence; 3) Expand opportunities for family engagement with school personnel to mutually address risk factors for violence; and 4) Improve communication between home and school to enhance protective factors for student success.
Primary Activities: 1) Implement on-going, comprehensive, evidence-based training to educate school personnel including mental health professionals, students, law enforcement personnel and parents on preventing school violence; 2) Conduct district-wide Anti-Violence Campaigns; 3) Conduct safety assessments to identify and address system-wide needs and gaps; 4) Integrate Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) activities 5) Provide Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Healthy Relationship skills training; 6) Update school strategic safety plan; 7) Provide parent education; 8) Implement OJJDP’s Gang Prevention Model strategies; 9) Host regular multidisciplinary team meetings; and 10) Conduct evaluation and sustainability activities. The program will also work to Advance Racial Equity and partner with a culturally-specific organization to reach African Americans.
Deliverables: By conducting outreach, assessments, training, education and prevention services with school and community leaders, students and parents, this aligns with OJJDP deliverables to: 1) Develop and submit a comprehensive school safety strategic plan that is informed by available local data and existing plans; 2) Identify a service network of CBOs that have experience in operating violence prevention and early intervention programs with youth and families; 3) Develop program strategies that provide the target youth population with service “backpacks” that are individualized to the particular student and engage the family as a critical change agent for the student; and 4) Implement prevention strategies for all students that help to supplement the interventions for the target youth population and build a positive school climate.
Service Area: Located in the Delta Region, Greenville, MS is the county seat for Washington County that has a total population of 45,072. The target district K-12 students represent nearly 10% of the population. The Delta remains one of the most deprived and poorest regions in the U.S. The percentage of single parent families and children living in poverty exceed the state by 59.2% and 58.3% respectively. The area is largely minority with 72% African-American compared to only 38% in the state.
Benefits: The activities, especially training and educating school and students, lead to many benefits like improved school safety and culture, reduced suspensions, improved social and emotional development, increased academic performance and increased family involvement. When students feel safe to go to school and learn, we all win – youth, parents, school staff, law enforcement and the communities where we live.