Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)
STARLITE is a three-year initiative that intends to improve school safety and to promote a supportive school environment for at-risk 7th-12th grade students and their families in the Pine Bluff School District (PBSD) in Arkansas. These students are over 90% African American, primarily low income, and live in a community with high rates of community violence, ranking the most dangerous place in Arkansas and among the most dangerous in the nation based on per capita crime. The project will use trauma-informed education and cognitive-behavioral therapy to prevent school violence, increase family engagement, improve communication between home and school, and develop a comprehensive school safety strategic plan. The project will partner with the PBSD, community-based organizations (CBOs) Seed Digging and Hurricane Hype Center, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Institute for Digital Health & Innovation (IDHI). The Seed Digging Wellness Center and Hurricane Hype Center will provide case management services, liaisons, and program logistics. IDHI will provide program management, engaging online and virtual education modules and activities, orientation training, and feedback collection. The project will also develop personalized service backpacks for at-risk students filled with resources from the STARLITE partnerships and other CBOs recruited during the project period. The project will expand family engagement and establish a service network of CBOs that have experience in operating violence prevention and early intervention programs with youth and families. The project will be informed by a family and student steering committee and aligns with the priorities and points of pride of the PBSD's five-year improvement plan. The project aims to improve the mental and physical well-being of at-risk students and their families in the PBSD by preventing and reducing school violence and promoting a positive and supportive school climate. The project will enhance school safety by addressing risk factors for violence and promoting protective factors for student success. The project promotes racial equity by addressing the root causes of violence and trauma and working collaboratively with the community to promote meaningful change and lasting impact.
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