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DPS Receives Grant to Become Trauma-Informed District

Aug. 30, 2018
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At an event held at Hallett Academy, Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced a $1 million philanthropic investment to support its goal to become a trauma-informed district. DPS also announced the reduction in out-of-school suspensions for kids in preschool through third grade, following a Board of Education resolution to dramatically reduce suspensions and eliminate expulsions for our youngest students.

“At Hallett, we are proud to announce that our school has reduced ECE through third-grade out-of-school suspensions by 100%, from 34 to 0,” said Hallett Principal Dominique Jefferson. “We love children back to learning, and we give children grace to make mistakes then try again.”

For the fifth year in a row, zero students in ECE through third-grade were expelled from school. There has also been a reduction of suspensions by two-thirds for DPS’ youngest learners.

The grant to the DPS Foundation, awarded by The Campbell Foundation, a donor-advised fund of The Denver Foundation, will be used to implement a comprehensive strategy designed to improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for DPS students.

Research indicates that trauma can affect children’s development and the functioning of their immune, neuroendocrine and nervous systems, which can lead to long-term effects on learning, behavior and health.

“We are pleased to catalyze this critical work in Denver Public Schools. The more we’ve learned about trauma-informed practices, the stronger our belief that we’re investing in truly transforming education for students in our city,” said Janice and Jim Campbell.

The grant will support a four-part strategy that provides training and coaching for trauma-informed practices, including the development of an official trauma certification for DPS staff. It will also help create educational environments that recognize when learning and behavior challenges could have trauma as the root cause.

The grant announcement follows the resolution passed by the DPS Board of Education last fall declaring the district to be a trauma-informed district. A portion of the grant will also be dedicated to a continuum of services for students who require additional behavioral support to ensure they achieve college and career success.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Campbell Family Foundation for believing in this work so strongly,” said Dr. Eldridge Greer, associate chief of the Student Equity and Opportunity team. “This grant will not only support the many students who come to us with trauma in their backgrounds, but also students with severe mental health challenges. Those students, who often become victims to low expectations and worse outcomes, are worth more. With this grant, we can go so much further in serving our students.”