1. Who is eligible to apply for Project SERV funds?
Local educational agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) are eligible to apply for Project SERV if (1) their learning environment has been disrupted as a direct result of a violent or traumatic event (see answer to question 2 below for a discussion of “eligible event”), and (2) responding to the crisis poses an undue financial hardship. Charter Schools that are considered LEAs under State law may directly apply for funding for Project SERV. Consistent with State and local procurement procedures, LEAs and IHEs may provide services directly and enter into contracts with other providers for necessary services. LEAs and IHEs may not subgrant funds received through Project SERV.
2. What is an “eligible event”?
Many types of events have the potential to seriously disrupt the learning environment. Further, events that appear similar do not always affect the learning environment in the same way. These facts make it difficult to determine in advance all the types of events which would be eligible for services. Any traumatic or violent event, that disrupted teaching and learning, is eligible for services under Project SERV if the LEA or IHE is able to: (1) demonstrate the traumatic effect on the learning environment including how the event has disrupted teaching and learning; and (2) demonstrate that the needed services cannot be adequately provided with existing resources in a comprehensive and timely manner, and that the provision of services and assistance will result in an undue financial hardship on the LEA or IHE. Generally, eligible events are those events that occur outside of the normal routine of school operations. The following are some examples of potentially eligible events. Other serious events not listed here also may be eligible.
- shootings or other serious violent incidents in schools, such as stabbings
- suicides of students, faculty members and/or staff
- hate crimes committed against students, faculty members and/or staff
- homicide of students, faculty members, and/or staff off cam
3. What events are not eligible for funding?
Many types of events may have the potential to disrupt the learning environment, yet are not considered eligible for funding under Project SERV. For example, actions taken by school boards, administrators or other school officials as part of their normal educational administrational function are the kind of incidents that are not considered eligible for funding.
4. What activities are eligible for funding under Project SERV?
Project SERV will fund costs that are reasonable, necessary, and essential for services activities that are intended to restore a sense of safety and security, help the victims/students stabilize their lives, and assist LEAs and IHEs in managing the practical problems created by the traumatic event. Project SERV funds are available to supplement, not replace, resources provided for these purposes by other Federal, State, local and private agencies and organizations. Examples of allowable services and activities are:
- Technical assistance on developing an appropriate recovery plan for addressing student needs and assessing the Federal, State, and local resources available to the LEA, IHE, and community to carry out this response.
- Mental health assessments, referrals, and services related to the traumatic event (with the goal of restoring victims/survivors to their pre-incident levels of functioning)
- Overtime for teachers, counselors, law enforcement and security officers, and other staff
- Substitute teachers and other staff as necessary
- Emergency transportation such as expenses incurred during evacuation
- Transportation and other costs to operate school at an alternative site
- Repairs of minor damage caused by the traumatic event (Extended Services Grants only)
- Temporary security measures such as non-permanent metal detectors and additional security guards and security cameras
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Applications to fund other services will be considered if the proposed activities are not among the list of services and activities that may not be funded (see response to FAQ Question 5); and are necessary to restore the learning environment.
5. What activities are not eligible for funding under Project SERV?
Project SERV funds may not be used for the following types of services and activities:
Any activity for which other resources, such as, insurance claims and reimbursements, capital improvement funds and disaster assistance for which payment will be received by another agency such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), or other Federal, State, local, or private agencies or organizations.
- Repairs of minor damage caused by the violent or traumatic event [Immediate Services Grants only]
- Permanent security measures such as stationary metal detectors or permanent security cameras
- claims recoverable under insurance coverage, including Medicaid reimbursements for related services to students, staff, and their families
- Payments of fines assessed upon the LEA or IHE, employees, and/or members of employees’ or students’ families
- Payment of settlements assessed against the LEA or IHE, employees and/or members of employees’ or students’ families in civil court actions
- Payment of legal fees or loss of wages due to court appearances incurred by the LEA or IHE, employees and/or members of employees’ or students’ families
- Costs for hospitalization, treatment of physical injuries, rehabilitation, or prescription costs
- Payment for public relations consultants or other media activities
- Services of existing County/public/private non-profit mental health agency staff whose role is to respond to emergency mental health needs of children
- Mental health services for persons other than students, faculty, other school personnel, and members of their immediate families
- Universal mental health screenings
- Emergency management services, such as development of emergency management plans, conducting vulnerability assessments, etc.
6. To whom may services be provided?
Services may be provided to students, teachers, and school staff, and to immediate family members of students, teachers, and staff. Services may be provided to individuals directly affected by a traumatic crisis or event, such as those who are personally victimized or injured by a crime or disaster; those who witness a violent event; or those whose family members are victimized, injured, or killed. Services may also be provided to those who are not directly injured or victimized but who are indirectly affected, for example, by attending or working in a school where a traumatic event or natural disaster has occurred.
NOTE: Counseling services for school staff may only be requested if those services are not covered by the insurance policy provided by the school district.
7. May LEAs or IHEs be eligible for funding if a crisis or incident happened off campus?
Yes, the determining factor in eligibility for funding is that the crisis disrupted the learning environment. Incidents that occur off-campus, such as accidents and shootings of students that take place in the community, and natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, can have an impact on the learning environment, and therefore are potentially an “eligible event” under which an LEA or IHE may apply for funding.
8. Can project SERV funds be used to fund violence prevention programs such as after-school programs, mentoring programs, anger management, or skills building management?
Project SERV funds are to be used to restore the learning environment by addressing the disruptive effects of a traumatic crisis or event. Although an LEA may understandably wish to respond to such a crisis by initiating or strengthening prevention activities, Project SERV funds may not be used for such activities.
9. How are applications submitted?
To help expedite the review process, applications for Immediate Services and Extended Services grants should be sent via email to Hamed.Negron-Perez@ed.gov.
LEAs applying for funding must also ensure that the application is coordinated and shared with the State Education Agency.
10. Under what circumstances may the Department deny funding of an application?
All Project SERV grants are at the discretion of the Secretary and subject to the availability of funds. The Secretary may deny funding, even to a high scoring project, if the project is not consistent with the goals and purpose of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA), or does not further national needs related to the SDFSCA. Examples of additional circumstances under which ED may deny a request for funding under Project SERV are: if the applicant fails to document the need for Federal funds; if the applicant is not an LEA or IHE; if the application is incomplete; if the purposes for which funding is being sought are inconsistent with the statutory authority for the use of these funds; if funding is unavailable; or if the proposed activities are unallowable under the non-regulatory guidance for the program.
11. What assurances must an LEA or IHE provide the Department?
There are several assurances that an LEA must submit as part of the application package, such as:
- Non-Construction Programs Assurances (SF 424B)
- Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF LLL).