Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $609,800)
The School District of Manatee County (SDMC), located in Manatee County, Florida, will implement a comprehensive program that focuses on a population of 500+ students in grades 2-12 who are of the highest risk – the majority being identified as impoverished, of a minority race and male. Horizons Academy is the only district-run alternative education program and is a temporary reassignment for students who struggle with behavioral issues in their current setting or have committed major acts such as threats of violence or worse.
Project Category 1: Project LIFT (Linking & Improving Families Together) will increase Horizons Academy’s capacity to reduce youth violence and victimization on its campus through school-based programming and interventions targeting a holistic array of student and family needs, which will in turn generate a ripple effect as these students return to zoned schools bolstered with increased protective skills.
Project Goals: 1) Improve Horizons Academy’s capacity to prevent and intervene early to incidents of violence. 2) Enhance partnerships between the school district, Horizons Academy, and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to provide high-risk youth and families with critical services. 3) Increase family engagement and communication to address risk factors for violence.
Priority 1(A): Project LIFT promotes racial equity by removing barriers to critical youth and community services for its underserved and disadvantaged target population.
The Project LIFT Service Network consists of three strategic community-based organizations to ensure that services are aligned to create an individualized, comprehensive “backpack” of services – social and emotional health, prevention, and education. The Project LIFT Service Network will also provide high-risk families with a bridge to Manatee County’s vetted community-based organizations specializing in youth and family services. Primary Activities: identify and increase transitional supports for students enrolling and exiting Horizons Academy, provide access to mental health services through either the school or Project LIFT Service Network, provide research-based, tiered interventions to meet the needs of this at-risk student population, provide extensive professional development to help educators understand trauma and its impact on student behavior and performance, develop systematic and equitable family engagement infrastructure, and revise the intake procedures in order to identify students with a predisposition to violence.