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The West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (WKEC) is pleased to announce they are a recipient of the 2022 BJA FY 22 Preventing School Violence: BJA’s STOP School Violence Program grant. The grant was awarded through the Office of Justice Programs at the approved amount of $999,845. Funds will be used in eleven rural western Kentucky counties that have high percentages of unemployment and poverty and have become transient due to a series of devastating tornadoes that ripped through the region on December 10, 2021, leaving many families homeless, displaced, unemployed, and grief stricken. School districts included in the grant are as listed: Ballard County, Caldwell County, Carlisle County, Crittenden County, Dawson Springs Independent, Fulton Independent, Fulton County, Hickman County, Livingston County, and Paducah Independent.

The STOP and CONNECT grant will equip students, educators, school resources officers (SROs), community partners, and parents with the skills needed to be resilient and resourceful in order to reduce the threat of school violence and increase safety in these schools as students learn how to connect with their feelings, friends, community, and futures in a safe, positive school environment.

“We are excited for many of our west Kentucky districts to have access to further training to support the schools and community. WKEC will serve as a connection point for a collaborative effort to assist in this work,” said Gretchen Wetzel, executive director.

WKEC’s program includes all five areas of the STOP grant. WKEC will hire a coordinator/counselor and school climate specialist/evaluator and use existing staff and resources to plan, implement, evaluate and sustain the program. WKEC will also provide training for behavior threat assessment teas using the National Threat Assessment Center model; training for school counselors on social/emotional initiatives and career planning; training for evidence based strategies including PBIS to all schools; mentoring programs using the Big Brother, Big Sister model; and SROs to create a West Kentucky SRO Association with training from an experienced SRO, trained at the Kentucky Center for School Safety.