US. Department of Education Awards More Than $325,000 to Help School District on Pine Ridge Reservation Recover From Multiple Student Suicides

An excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling more than $325,000. The grant will be used to assist the Little Wound School with ongoing recovery efforts following 12 suicide deaths on the Pine Ridge reservation, including the deaths of current and former Little Wound School students, and relatives and friends of the students. In addition, there have been more than 100 suicide attempts on the reservation during the 2014-15 school year. This is the third Project SERV grant awarded to a school district on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first grant was awarded in June 2010, and in June 2015, the Department awarded a grant to Pine Ridge School following a significant increase in student suicides. 

“These incidents are troubling, and my heart goes out to the students, families and community of Pine Ridge,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “There are so many people involved in the work to help children, families and the community heal after these tragedies, and this grant will help this community receive the services it needs to move forward in restoring the learning environment.”

There are two types of Project SERV awards—Immediate Services and Extended Services. Immediate Services grants provide emergency, short-term assistance to affected school districts or colleges and universities. Extended Services grants assist school districts and colleges and universities in carrying out the long-term recovery efforts that may be needed following a significant, traumatic event. To date, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded more than $42.1 million to 128 grantees, including Little Wound School, since the grants program began in 2001.

To view a list of Project SERV grantees and award amounts, or to learn more about the program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html.

To read the entire press release, click here.

U.S. Departments of Education and Interior Announce Grant to Assist Pine Ridge School Recovery Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – William Mendoza, Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education at the U.S. Department of Education, and Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, today announced that the Pine Ridge School in South Dakota has received $218,000 at their request under the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant program to aid in recovery from student suicides and suicide attempts.

The Pine Ridge School, which serves the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, requested assistance after experiencing a significant increase in the number of counseling referrals, suicide ideations, and suicide attempts between August 2014 and April 2015.Two of the students who committed suicide were high school students and two were middle-school age.

“We are heartbroken about the tragic loss of life and are committed to working with the Pine Ridge community as it heals. These funds will help Pine Ridge School’s continued efforts to restore the learning environment in the face of these great tragedies.” said Mendoza. “This Administration is committed to supporting tribes in their work to meet the needs of their students. We all must do more to address the challenges across Indian Country.”

“Children and youth need help in seeing that their lives have meaning and that they, too, have the power to create promising futures for themselves. No tribe can long endure the loss of its lifeblood, its children and youth, to suicide,” said Roessel. “Thanks to the Department of Education and the SERV Program, the Pine Ridge School will be able to begin to help its students and their families onto healthier life paths that lead to more positive outcomes.”

In line with the Obama Administration’s Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”) initiative to improve the lives of Native youth by removing the barriers for their progress and academic success, the SERV grant will support a culturally appropriate approach to the recovery of Native youth at Pine Ridge School. The grant will enable the Pine Ridge School to hire additional counselors and social workers to help students during the summer school session and the next school year. It also will support implementation of a multi-faceted and holistic approach to healing that is based on Lakota traditional culture and relevant to Pine Ridge School students, who have dealt with the sudden loss of classmates to suicide or know those who have attempted suicide.

To view the entire press release, click here.