East Grand Rapids — A significant donation from the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation will enable the district to provide more robust mental health services for students in all grades at all five schools.
Foundation members presented the Board of Education with a check for $248,693 at its meeting Monday, June 13, with a commitment to give a total of $750,000 over three years.
The money will be used to fund a new coordinator of wellness position that directly supports high school students and K-8 social workers; an added half-time social worker at the middle school; and materials, supplies and mental health training for all K-12 staff and students.
“I am thrilled that the Foundation is taking a big step in supporting the whole child and the mental health and wellness of our students,” said Foundation Executive Director Amy Stuursma. “As recent events have tragically made all too clear, our students’ mental well-being must be a priority. We’re proud to be making this significant, strategic and forward-thinking commitment to our schools.”
Once the program is in place, each school will have a dedicated social worker and the district will have the equivalent of six full-time employees dedicated to social work. In addition, the coordinator of wellness will provide tiered interventions for high school students and additional leadership for K-12 social work staff.
EGRPS administrators requested program funds for this purpose from the Foundation in May. Superintendent Heidi Kattula said she has been grateful for the group’s ongoing support.
“Over the last two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in students’ mental health needs, and our students need us now more than ever,” Kattula said. “With the Foundation’s support, we will add a systems-based model to support our K-12 students’ mental health and wellness. This tremendous step towards proactively addressing mental health needs is essential for our students’ long-term success.”
This donation will fund the first three years of new staff and services, but the district said the plan is for those services to continue permanently. If other money becomes available for some or all of the program, such as state or federal funding, donated funds would be returned to the Foundation’s endowment.