DENVER— Ahead of the new school year, Kaiser Permanente today announced 5 local school districts will receive a total of $1.5 million in Thriving Schools mental health grants over the next 3 years. The grants are designed to help districts expand implementation of Kaiser Permanente’s Resilience in School Environments initiative. The initiative empowers schools to create safe and supportive learning environments by cultivating practices that strengthen the social and emotional health of all school employees and students.
Grant funds will also be available to support COVID-19 prevention efforts in each school district for priorities including sanitation and hygiene, expanded testing, social distancing support, and safe meal distribution to food insecure students.
“We’ve supported the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of students, teachers, and staff in Colorado for more than 50 years — it’s part of who we are at Kaiser Permanente,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aligning our Thriving Schools grants to address today’s unique challenges. We’re excited to provide this support for districts across Colorado.”
In Denver, Cherry Creek School District was awarded a $300,000 Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools grant. This grant supports the expansion of the Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools program that started with Prairie Middle School, Colorado’s largest middle school. HEARTS integrates racial equity work with common language, practice, and policies. The school district will use Kaiser Permanente’s RISE framework to expand HEARTS training and programs within 6 elementary schools that feed into Prairie Middle School.
“Equity, engagement, and mental health resources for our students are at the core of the Cherry Creek School District’s dedication to excellence. This Thriving Schools grant from Kaiser Permanente will give students of all ages and backgrounds the critical tools they need to move our important work forward,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “The HEARTS program offers elementary and middle school students real-world tools to address racial equity issues on a daily basis.”
All of the Thriving Schools grants are supported by technical assistance and evaluation support provided by Colorado Education Initiative and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The other school districts awarded Thriving Schools grant funding are:
The Thriving Schools grant will help Boulder Valley School District continue its collaboration with the University of Colorado’s Boulder Institute of Behavioral Sciences social-emotional wellness program. This program addresses underlying factors of stress in schools by developing strategies and sharing best practices that foster more positive school environments.
To address job satisfaction, self-efficacy, and stress management among teachers and staff, Thompson School District will use its portion of the Thriving Schools grant to continue its focus on the importance of self-care, including training on ways to build it into everyday life. Each participating school will have Thriving Schools RISE site leaders to improve relationships between students and staff. These positions will provide training and coaching at each site. Thompson will provide training and coaching in core RISE competencies and trauma-informed practices to increase social-emotional learning skills.
Pueblo School District 70 will use its grant funding to implement the Thriving Schools RISE framework in 20 schools across the district. Professional learning opportunities will be promoted to increase trauma-informed competencies and reduce the effects of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma for staff. Pueblo 70 plans to scale its social-emotional wellness work, practices, and policies to reach approximately 80% of schools in the district.
Douglas County School District will use its portion of grant funding to implement several activities to support the advancement of social-emotional wellness across the district. DCSD will identify district social-emotional wellness champions and provide training opportunities to support adult social-emotional learning and staff wellness, burnout, and self-care with district and local school leads. Finally, DCSD will revise, improve, and implement social-emotional wellness policies and practices.
In addition to the Thriving Schools mental health and COVID-19 prevention grant funding, Kaiser Permanente will offer schools a unique virtual platform for learning about, identifying, and living with mental health needs. These plans include expanding the availability of programs like RISE UP, a complimentary learning session for school staff, administrators, and teachers, designed to foster resilience and support school staff as they work with students using trauma-informed practices, as well as Ghosted, which is an interactive play and workshop designed to address mental health needs, break down stigma, and provide resources to teens and teachers.
Kaiser Permanente also recently announced a $500,000 donation to the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, $300,000 of which will be restricted to organizations applying to do contact tracing. In addition, Kaiser Permanente committed $1 million to Denver’s Housing and Homeless Services Fund, which provides necessary resources for the preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless population.
For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia, including more than 605,000 members in Colorado. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.