UNIVERSITY CITY, MO – St. Louis County just got its hands on nearly $2 million in federal grant money in an effort to help young kids stay off the streets.
The county's Department of Public Health was awarded a 4-year, $1.7 million grant to implement and evaluate youth violence prevention efforts.
The grant was awarded by the Office of Minority Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be spread cross three county school districts which include Hazelwood, Normandy and The School District of University City.
The effort is known as Reconciliation and Empowerment to Support Tolerance and Race Equity or Project RESTORE.
"The grant is to improve kids' academic performance, and result in mentoring for young kids and prevention of violence and conflict avoidance," said County Executive, Steve Stenger.
Jocelyn Day, a University City school district mother said the money is a perfect investment that she believes students like her young son could benefit from.
"I know a lot of people look at these areas as high risk," she said, "creating programs like this would help him be more engaged in better things and have a better outlook on life."
County leaders said that a series of intervention strategies will be implemented, to include peer mentoring and life-skills training, academic tutoring, after-school and summer programs, training for educators, and proactive parent engagement.
The violence rate and other outcomes among the students participating in these programs will be compared to outcomes among students from similar demographics.
University City School District Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley said that she's already thinking of ideas that she could implement within her school district in an effort to provide the best possible resources for her students.
"Looking at anti bullying programs making sure they understand what bullying looks like, the impact of it and restorative practices," she said, "all children are at risk right now and we have to embrace them."
The program will officially begin in fall. Researchers with the Department of Public Health and University of Missouri-St. Louis will collect data for the next three years to see how the program is working.