Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $991,110)
Legal Name & Project Title: United Way Southwest Georgia- STOP School Violence Program
Geographic Location: Terrell and Dougherty Counties
Category 2: Training on Preventing Violence
Summary: United Way of Southwest Georgia is working in partnership with two local school districts to reduce and prevent school violence. With nearly 16,000 students in K-12 in the target districts, the average school suspensions is nearly 10% higher than the state and the percentage of high school students who carried a weapon to school is over 30% in Georgia. Poor academics, high rates of single parent families and high poverty in the counties exacerbate the problems. The primary objective is to increase school safety using evidence-based solutions to prevent violence against schools, staff and students and ensure a positive school climate.
Primary Activities: 1) Update PBIS Framework and conduct assessments to ensure current safety needs are being met at the system level; 2) Provide school safety training; 3) Conduct comprehensive and evidence-based prevention training for students, school personnel, law enforcement, parents and mental health professionals; 4) Provide Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills training; 5) Identify and conduct strategies to respond to mental health crisis that are trauma-informed; 6) Conduct district-wide Anti-Bullying Campaigns; 7) Provide parent education sessions; 8) Host and attend community action team and violence prevention events and 9) Conduct evaluation and sustainability activities.
Deliverables: 1) To increase the number of participants that improve social-emotional learning skills; 2) To increase the number of participants who know methods to prevent school violence; 3) To reduce the number of school incidents of violence; 4) To increase the number of participants who are aware of methods to report school violence; 5) To increase the number of parents who speak with their child(ren) about bullying. Service Area: Combined, Terrell (rural) and Dougherty (urban) Counties have a population of 103,880. Part of Southwest Georgia, the area has historically been the poorest region of the state for the past 20 years with a high rate of family poverty. The percentage of single parent families and children living in poverty exceed the state by 80.8% and 103.3% respectively. The area is largely minority with about 64.2% African-American compared to only 28.7% in the state.
Benefits: The activities, especially improving the PBIS framework, leads 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.