A look back at funded COPS School Violence Prevention Program grants

A total of $53 million is up for grabs this year to make schools safer

It is that time again – the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) grant cycle is open!

This funding is authorized under the 2018 STOP School Violence Act, and grants are awarded through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the COPS Office. The application component for grants.gov is due June 14, 2022, and the JustGrants application with attachments is due June 21, 2022. A total of $53 million is up for grabs this year to make schools safer.

Are you ready? To help, here is a look back at some funded SVPP grant data.

Think only large school districts can be awarded through SVPP? Think again.
Think only large school districts can be awarded through SVPP? Think again. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

previous awards

In 2021, 153 SVPP grants were awarded for a total of $51,930,021. Forty-seven state jurisdictions and the U.S. territory of Guam submitted 285 applications. Out of 285 eligible applications, the average federal request was $321,941. The average award amount for the 153 grantees was $339,412. Over 6,300 schools and 3.4 million students were supported with school safety improvements, including locks, lighting, metal detectors, collaboration with law enforcement, training, threat assessments, anonymous reporting systems and responding to mental health crises.

Per the COPS Office, “Applications were evaluated on a number of factors, including the program impact of the proposed project, financial need, need for improved security, current school safety and planning efforts, funding request and integration information, management and implementation plan, and sustainability plan.”

Fifty-two percent of 2021 SVPP awardees were rural, 27 percent were suburban, and 21 percent were urban. Here are a few 2021 grantees:

  • Dillingham City School District (Alaska): $465,553
  • Texarkana School District #7 (Ark.): $500,000
  • Chula Vista Elementary School District (Calif.): $347,031
  • Rockingham County Schools (N.C.): $500,000
  • Taos Municipal School District (N.M.): $492,500
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (S.D.): $445,661
  • Boerne Independent School District (Texas): $19,060

Think only large school districts can be awarded through SVPP? Think again.

Be detailed and concise

One example of a small school award is May High School in May, Texas, which received more than $60,000 in 2020 to help with their school safety initiative.

In 2020, Wayzata Public Schools in Minnesota was funded approximately $68,000 by writing a clear needs statement directly related to the SVPP solicitation requirements.

Always connect your needs assessment to your project in grant narratives and make it explicit to reviewers. For example, if you are writing a grant about the need to make your school safer from inside and outside threats, do not talk about the number of homeless students or pregnant teens in your school district. That is not relevant.

Do a risk assessment, informal or formal, and talk about violent incidents in your school district or community. Or talk about the need for a threat assessment and put the cost of that assessment in your proposed grant budget. Do not forget to be as detailed, and yet concise, at the same time.

Wayzata Public Schools made a strong project plan before applying for SVPP funds and were awarded money to complete their school site radio needs, implement a student threat assessment system, provide training and collaborate with local first responders. Their strategic safety vision matched what the COPS Office wants to see.

In their grant narrative, Wayzata also accurately described all that they had done so far in the district to improve safety for all such as implementing a Run, Hide, Fight video; yearly training for all district personnel; building safety drills for all stakeholders; and including first responders in their safety planning initiatives.

The district also had an ongoing strong relationship with local law enforcement, something the COPS Office loves to see. They made it clear to the COPS Office that safety measures such as radios were a necessary addition to their current security arsenal of fob systems, cameras, badges, secure entry points and school resource officers (SROs).

a tip to funding success

Kristin Tollison, Wayzata Public Schools Director of Administrative Services, provides a fantastic SVPP tip: “I think the keys were to actually, genuinely have a process, not just looking for the grant to buy something a one-time thing. I think the COPS grant really wants a system, something embedded in a system. At least the things we had to answer, it wasn’t just, ‘Oh, we would really like to have this.’ It was part of an ongoing safety initiative.” Find out more about Wayzata Public Schools and their school safety initiatives here.

Do not be afraid to reach out to a school district who received SVPP funds in the past. They might be happy to help and could provide useful tips based on their successful application. Good luck on securing that needed school safety funding.

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