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 For Immediate Release
July 23, 2003


 Grantees will use these funds to create safe schools and to promote healthy child development

While the vast majority of the nation's schools are safe places, some schools are vulnerable to crime, drug abuse and violence. The Federal Government is committed to reducing school violence and promoting the healthy development of all America's children.

Today, the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced that more than $41 million in grants will be awarded to 23 schools and communities to make schools safer, foster healthy child development and prevent aggressive and violent behavior and drug and alcohol use among the nation's youth.

"Crime and substance abuse in schools compromise the learning environment and endanger teachers and students," said Education Secretary Rod Paige. "With these grants, schools can implement comprehensive programs and activities that will provide safer schools and communities ensuring that no child will be left behind. The department is pleased with the progress this initiative has made in the past four years."

"If American students don't feel safe, they can't learn. We need to do all we can to give them a chance to succeed," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "These grants will help open the doors to academic learning by shutting out the dangers of the street."

"Community policing reduces the fear of crime as well as crime itself, which is critical to a productive learning environment," said Director Carl R. Peed of the COPS Office. "Community policing also empowers citizens - and students - to take an active part in the law enforcement process. These grants will help good students become good citizens."

The COPS Office is the only agency of the federal government dedicated to advancing community policing, which is a law enforcement philosophy based on organizational change, problem-oriented policing, and building broad, collaborative partnerships. Community policing focuses as much on preventing crime as on responding to crime, and works hard to build public trust in law enforcement professionals. Community policing's focus on prevention, collaboration, and building mutual respect between law enforcement and citizens make it ideal for keeping school environments healthy, safe, and productive.

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SSHS) Initiative's purpose is to provide schools and communities the benefit of enhanced school and community-based services in an effort to strengthen healthy child development thus reducing violent behavior and substance use.

Since 1999, the three federal agencies have partnered together to help schools and communities design and implement comprehensive education, mental health, social service, law enforcement and juvenile justice services for children and youth.

The school-based community partnerships include rural, urban, suburban and tribal projects. School districts submitted comprehensive plans created in partnership with law enforcement officials, local mental health authorities, and often with juvenile justice officials and community-based organizations as well. Plans are required to address six elements: a safe school environment; alcohol and other drug and violence prevention and early intervention programs; school and community mental health preventive and treatment intervention services; early childhood psychosocial and emotional development programs; education reform; and safe school policies.

In FY 2002, more than 350 applications were received, and less than 15% of the applications were funded. This year awardees were selected from the FY 2002 rank-ordered list of unfunded applicants.