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RIDE Awarded $2.5 Million to Improve School Climate and Support Behavioral Health

Federal Transformation Grant Comes Weeks After RIDE Wins $9 Million Grant for Mental Health Services

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Fresh off the heels of winning a $9 million federal grant to improve mental health services, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) today announced an additional $2.5 million federal School Climate Transformation Grant. This funding, for approximately $500,000 annually over five years, will enable RIDE to support schools and districts in expanding and connecting programs that address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.

“If we want all students to succeed, we cannot focus on academics alone. We need to care for the whole child and that means providing wraparound supports, from nutrition and health care, to mental and behavioral health services,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I reconvened the Children’s Cabinet because I need all agencies that serve kids and families to be working together and coordinating efforts. This grant fits in perfectly with that work, bringing partners together for a more coordinated approach to school climate.”

RIDE will work with the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (CLEE) and the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative to support youth with or at risk for developing behavioral health challenges, including those with substance use disorders, and those involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems.

By taking a holistic approach to behavioral, social, and emotional supports, schools can more effectively address equity and achievement gaps, ensuring coordination in educating and caring for the whole child.

“In order to educate our kids, we need to support our kids, not just academically, but socially and emotionally, as well,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “When a school has a positive culture where students feel safe, included, and valued, they are more likely to perform at their best. School climate has a definite impact on student outcomes, and this funding will help us to foster the kinds of engaging school communities that can make all the difference in the life of a child.”

In fall of 2017, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education endorsed Social and Emotional Learning Standards in Rhode Island. The state has also already made substantial investments in programs like Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and Response to Intervention (RTI), which are behavior management and intervention models designed to tackle both the academic and behavioral challenges of students.

Through this funding, participating schools will conduct needs assessments and develop plans that are tailored to their student population. Grant partners will then provide professional learning, training, and technical assistance to educators so they can expand and connect all intervention efforts.