National Beat Reporter
The US Department of Education has awarded a $570,000 grant to the University of California, Santa Barbara for the purpose of expanding mental health services on campus and in Isla Vista. The grant will be used to meet the increased demand for mental health services in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting in May 2014.
The grant was announced by Representative Lois Capps (CA-24) on Jan. 13, 2015. “May 23 was a tragic day for the Isla Vista and UCSB communities,” Capps said. “Several months later, we are still dealing with the aftermath in very real ways. This grant will provide enhanced care to support members of our community as they continue to heal and as we all work together to make UCSB and Isla Vista better, safer places to live and study.” Rep. Capps was joined by Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, at President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
The grant will go towards temporarily hiring two additional counseling psychologists for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a staff member for Student Mental Health Coordination Services (SMHCS), a counseling psychologist for staff and faculty through UCSB’s Academic & Staff Assistance Program (ASAP), and a social worker for Student Health.
“But we all work together,” said Angela Andrade, Associate Dean of Student Wellness Services.
“A number of those positions are planned to be housed in Isla Vista, which is really significant for us,” said Andrade. “We feel like that’s a great way to assist students and extend our services so that we’re closer to students where they live.” Student Affairs plans to propose to use some of the grant money to lease office space on the second floor of the Isla Vista Clinic on Embarcadero Del Mar.
The grant for over half a million dollars was given to the university as part of the Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) and administered by the department’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Project SERV is a program that grants money to schools and colleges to “help them recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted,” according to the official website.
Project SERV grants started in 2001, but the Department of Education did not start awarding grants to institutions of higher education until 2008, several months after the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. In the past year, Project SERV grants have been awarded to schools such as Santa Monica College in California and the Newtown Public School District in Connecticut. Santa Monica College received a $66,249 grant following a June 2013 shooting that left six people dead, while the Newtown Public School District received a $1,982,125 grant in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 school children and six adult staff members dead.
“I am always saddened by any tragic event, but especially incidents that involve young people whose entire futures lie ahead of them,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a Department of Education press release. “We want to provide as much support as we can to the students, faculty and community who have been impacted. This grant will help provide the necessary support needed to assist the university and community as they continue to move beyond the tragedies they’ve experienced.”
According to Andrade, the grant will last for one year but Student Affairs will be interested in exploring options for resubmitting grant applications and extending funding.