Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

On June 25, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), legislation that expands vital mental health services and provides additional support for States and districts to design and enhance initiatives that will promote safer, more inclusive, and positive school environments for all students, educators, and school staff.

The BSCA includes $1 billion through Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for SEAs to competitively award subgrants to high-need LEAs to establish safer and healthier learning environments, and to prevent and respond to acts of bullying, violence, and hate that impact our school communities at individual and systemic levels, among other programs and activities. The Department has designated this component of the BSCA the Stronger Connections Grant Program.

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Stronger Connections Frequently Asked Questions – Nonregulatory Guidance (2022).  The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is seeking public comment on these FAQs.  Send comments to: StrongerConnections@ed.gov.  Please use the Subject Line: “Stronger Connections Grant Program FAQs.”  The Department will consider all comments in making revisions, as appropriate, but will not provide individual responses to comments.  Deadline to submit comments is December 19, 2022.

Please submit succinct, substantive comments regarding the draft BSCA Grant Program FAQs, which may include:  1. Identifying questions or answers in the document, by question number, that you think are not clear and provide a suggestion for enhancing clarity; or  2. Providing suggestions for enhancing the document overall, such as an unanswered question.

The Department will continue to provide support and resources to schools and communities on how to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students and educators. The Department will hold a webinar series to accompany the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Stronger Connections FAQ.

The first webinar is entitled “Building Stronger Connections: Engaging Families and Communities” and will be held on November 30, 2022 at 2 pm. The next three will be held at later dates to be announced and are entitled:

  • Building Stronger Connections: Selecting High-Quality Evidence-based Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools Part I
  • Building Stronger Connections: Selecting High-Quality Evidenced-based Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools Part II
  • Building Stronger Connections: Professional Development and Training for All School Staff on Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools

In addition, the BSCA provided $1 billion to assist in meeting President Biden’s call as part of the Unity Agenda to double the total number of mental health professionals in the field.  The purpose of the School-Based Mental Health Services (SBMH) grant program is to increase the number of credentialed mental health services providers providing school-based mental health services to students in LEAs with demonstrated need.  The purpose of the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration (MHSP) grant program is to address student mental health needs by increasing the number of school-based mental health service providers in high-need LEAs, increasing the number of service providers from diverse backgrounds or from the communities they serve, and ensuring that all service providers are trained in inclusive practices, including ensuring access to services for children and youth who are English learners.

Finally, the BSCA includes an appropriation of $50 million for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. Funds were allocated to States through a supplemental grant award.  The Department encouraged States to emphasize evidence-based practices for increasing student attendance and engagement, reducing rates of chronic absenteeism, and enhancing connections between students in middle grades and high school and their school, family, and program partners.

More specific information regarding each of these programs is available at the links below.

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – Stronger Connections Grant Program:

Stronger Connections Grant Program Dear Colleague Letter

Stronger Connections Grant Program Allocations

Stronger Connections Grant Program GAN Assurances

Stronger Connections Grant Program GAN Assurances (Outlying Areas, Hawaii, Puerto Rico)

Stronger Connections Grant Program Requested Information Template

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – School-Based Mental Health Services Grant:

School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Notice Inviting Applications

School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Notice of Final Priorities

School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Brochure

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act  – Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant

Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Notice Inviting Applications

Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Notice of Final Priorities

Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Brochure

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center Supplemental Grants:

21st Century Community Learning Center BSCA Memo to States

21st Century Community Learning Center BSCA State Allocations