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Mayor Bowser Announces $8.8M Project AWARE Grant to Support Behavioral, Mental Health in DC Schools

Monday, September 24, 2018
Grant Supports Efforts to Increase Access to Prevention Services, Early Intervention, and Intensive Treatment Services

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser announced that the District of Columbia received an $8.8 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote youth mental health awareness and improve connections to services for school-age youth and families who may experience behavioral health issues.

“We’re committed to getting every student in every school the supports and resources they need to succeed,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through Project AWARE, we can work with schools and families to expand our behavioral health system and get thousands of young people the behavioral and mental health supports they need to thrive inside and outside the classroom.”

Over the next five years, the Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education (Project AWARE) grant, administered through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), will leverage and build upon the District’s Comprehensive Expansion of School-Based Mental Health. The Bowser Administration will create an integrated service delivery model that emphasizes services within schools and communities with the greatest unmet mental health needs. The program will reach at least 11,000 District children and youth across the District of Columbia.

The first phase of the grant will support efforts to build fully resourced schools that provide students with access to needed prevention, early intervention, and intensive treatment services. The funds will go to 15 schools at three local education agencies (LEAs): five DC Public Schools, four Friendship Public Charter Schools, and six KIPP DC Public Charter Schools. These schools will serve as models for an expanded behavioral health system that will ultimately apply to all students in the District of Columbia. In the second phase of the grant, the program will expand to 37 public and public charter schools including 12 KIPP DC Public Charter Schools, 11 Friendship Public Charter Schools, 14 DC Public Schools.

Project AWARE Phase 1 Schools Project AWARE Phase 2 Schools

KIPP DC Benning Campus

  • LEAP Academy
  • Promise Academy
  • KEY Academy
KIPP DC will add two campuses of similar size

KIPP DC Smilow Campus

  • Arts and Technology Academy
  • Quest Academy
  • Valor Academy


  • Armstrong
  • Woodridge International ES
  • Woodridge International MS
  • Blow Pierce ES
  • Blow Pierce MS
  • Chamberlain ES
  • Chamberlain MS


  • SE Academy
  • Southeast MS
  • Tech Prep HS
  • Collegiate


  • Cardozo EC
  • Houston ES
  • Johnson MS
  • Kramer MS
  • Roosevelt STAY HS
  • Savoy ES
  • Tubman ES
  • Wheatley EC


  • Ballou HS
  • Hendley ES
  • LaSalle-Backus EC
  • Luke C. Moore
  • Washington Metropolitan HS


“We are thrilled to leverage this grant opportunity to further deepen our partnerships with the Department of Behavioral Health and our colleagues at DCPS, Friendship, and KIPP DC in support of the mental health and wellness of our students, families, and educators,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang.

This grant will also allow the District to offer comprehensive training for at least 1,500 educators and administrators to help school and LEA staff detect and respond to mental health issues among DC youth.

Key outcomes for this grant include: increased rates of screening and referral of students with concern for a mental health need; development of integrated networks of school- and community-based mental health providers; an increase in knowledge of mental health issues among students, families, and educators; and the implementation of state- and local-level policies, procedures, and systems.

In 2017, as part of a renewed commitment to school-based behavioral health in every DC public and public charter school, Mayor Bowser convened a Task Force on School Mental Health to review and recommend any changes to the Comprehensive Plan to Expand School-Based Behavioral Health Services. In their March 2018 report, the task force endorsed the plan’s core program design. This model ties together school, agency, and community-based provider resources around a common vision to provide access to prevention, screening, early intervention, and intensive mental health services for all public school students. Based on the Task Force’s recommendations, in school year 2018-2019, the Administration is expanding the coordinated behavioral health model in 50 schools, including five of the 15 schools in Phase 1 of Project AWARE, that have been identified as within the top 25 percent of need based on behavioral health indicators. The expansion is expected to reach all schools over the next three years.

To fund the first year of the expansion, the Mayor has invested $3 million for three key activities: developing effective school/provider partnerships, teaming, and coordination of school-based behavioral health resources; growing the pool of available, high-quality community-based partners; and increasing support for community-based mental health providers partnering with schools. This funding is in addition to over $50 million in existing funding for school-based behavioral health services and program through the District’s Department of Behavioral Health, DC Public Schools, and the District’s Public Charter Schools.

For more information about Project AWARE, visit the SAMHSA website at