United Community Schools, a program run by the United Federation of Teachers, has won a $2.3 million five-year federal grant to provide additional mental health services, restorative practices and after-school programming at three of its Bronx schools.
United Community Schools (UCS) was among only eight organizations in the nation — including universities — to win the competitive federal grant, which is designed to support “nationally significant programs to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.”
In addition to United Community Schools, other winners included Teachers College at Columbia University, the SUNY Research Foundation, the University of Nevada, and local authorities in upstate New York, Illinois and Indiana.
The federal funds for the UCS New York City program will be used to expand direct mental health services, restorative justice practices and after-school STEM, literacy and arts programs, to students at PS 18 and PS 369 in Mott Haven and PS 48 in Hunts Point.
“We started our United Community Schools project to eliminate barriers to learning and to help give all children what they need to thrive,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. "This grant allows us to bring more vital resources to these school communities."
The U.S. Department of Education grant provides up to $489,000 a year for five years through its Full-Service Community Schools Program.
“We are always asked, by parents and community leaders: How do schools become vibrant, nurturing environments where all children are valued and supported? This is how. By investing in initiatives that bring resources into the classroom, and doing it in such a way that ensures parents and community partners are part of the solution,” said Karen Alford, vice president for elementary schools at the UFT and director of the UCS initiative, formerly known as the Community Learning Schools (CLS).
At PS 18, the funds will be used to help teachers learn crisis intervention techniques, provide additional mental health support for students and provide job training for parents.
At PS 369, the grant will provide extra resources to engage parents and leverage community resources by becoming a United Community School.
At PS 48, the grant will bring in additional mental health supports, an evidence-based literacy program, and adult and career education counseling.
The funds will also expand a restorative practices program, the Positive Learning Collaborative, now used at PS 369 to the two other Bronx schools. The restorative program aims to improve school climate and, by extension, reduce suspensions and reduce the incidents that lead to suspensions.
All three schools will be able to expand and deepen their afterschool literacy, arts and STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — programs with the help of the federal grant.