September 27, 2023

10 school districts receive next round of RISE grants

The Thriving Schools program helps educators and students in Colorado integrate social and emotional wellness into classrooms to build resilience.

RISE grants support Pueblo 70's work promoting social and emotional learning through dedicated curriculum and an innovative greenhouse.

Resilience and wellness programs will help teachers, administrators, staff, and students in 10 Colorado school districts this year, thanks to $3 million in grants from Kaiser Permanente over the next 3 years. Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Resilience in School Environments, or RISE, program will help develop or enhance initiatives in each of these school districts.

School districts and education partners develop RISE programs tailored for their needs that provide teachers, staff, and students with resources, tools, and techniques to integrate social and emotional wellness into all aspects of school life. Building resilience in classrooms promotes the growth of resilience in homes and communities, as students and teachers internalize wellness strategies and apply them to their personal lives.

“The RISE program brings together Kaiser Permanente, school districts, and education agencies to develop community-led solutions to mental health challenges and build resilience in teachers, administrators, staff, students, and their families,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “This, in turn, helps build stronger, healthier, and more vibrant communities for everyone. We are proud to support Colorado schools, and the RISE program reflects our commitment.”

Kaiser Permanente started RISE to bolster connectedness among individuals, families, communities, and schools. Over the last 6 years, Kaiser Permanente in Colorado has distributed more than $6 million in grants to support mental health in school districts.

RISE grant recipients

The 10 RISE districts will share a combined total of $3 million in grants over the next 3 years to either develop or enhance RISE programs in their schools.

Newly participating districts include:

  • Aurora Public Schools
  • 27J Schools (Brighton)
  • Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8
  • Greeley-Evans School District 6
  • Harrison School District 2
  • Mapleton Public Schools

Continuing districts include:

  • Pueblo County School District 70
  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Cherry Creek School District
  • Thompson School District

RISE’s impact on schools

RISE has the flexibility for schools and districts to tailor the programs to meet their specific needs. For instance, Polton Elementary in the Cherry Creek School District starts each day with “Den Circles,” where students and teachers recognize and share the emotions they are bringing to the classroom.

And Hand-to-Heart Training in the Boulder Valley School District focuses on a type of mindfulness practice. Teachers take the time to consider their needs, feelings, and experiences at a given time, then they consider the needs, feelings, and experiences of each student. Lastly, they consider what resources are available to meet each of their needs.

However, the effects of RISE are the same — a growing resilience among our communities’ youngest residents and those who educate them. 

Despite high levels of workplace stress and recent traumatic events that have affected entire communities, teacher surveys from RISE schools report:

  • Improved school climates
  • Better mental health among teachers, staff, and students
  • Greater job satisfaction

At a RISE showcase in March 2023, Boulder Valley School District teachers and administrators described how the Hands-to-Heart Training developed through grant funding was key to helping teachers support kids struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marshall Fire, and the 2021 King Soopers mass shooting in Boulder. One educator said the program changes people by “teaching humans how to human more effectively.”

More resources

Kaiser Permanente is proud of our Thriving Schools initiative, which works to strengthen the health and well-being of school communities across the country, so every school succeeds, every employee excels, and every child thrives.