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Federal Government Awards $21M for Counseling Programs

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The U.S. Department of Education announced last week over $21 million in grant money for school mental-health services. Sixty recipients in 24 states earned awards.

School districts—including charter schools—that applied for the grant money promised to meet four criteria:

1. Use a developmental, preventive approach

2. Expand the inventory of effective counseling programs

3. Include in-service training

4. Involve parents and community groups

The goals of the program are to establish or expand counseling programs for grades K-12, and enable more "data-based decisionmaking." That latter tenet means schools should be tracking whether their programs actually improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes in early learning, elementary, or secondary schools, or increase postsecondary enrollment or career success.

Most awards came in the $300,000-400,000 range. Only Comal Independent School District, in Texas, and Vallejo City Unified School District in California, received the maximum $400,000 award. (South Pointe Public Elementary School in Arizona came frustratingly close at $399,995, but maybe they owed the USDOE five bucks for something else?) Each applicant could ask for up to three years of funding.

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