Lawton Public Schools will be receiving funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education Project AWARE, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said.

Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) is designed to strengthen school-based mental health training and support for Oklahoma students, educators, families, and community partners, Hoffmeister said. The program is one of the largest grants provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, totaling $8.99 million over five years.

Project AWARE has programs for western, eastern and southern Oklahoma, as well as multiple goals to measure the efficacy of the program and district achievement. Lawton Public Schools will be listed under Project AWARE South.

“We will customize our program from a list of research-based professional developments, professional book studies, curriculum programs, students, and community mental health awareness events,” said Diana Landoll, director of grants at Lawton Public Schools.

For the purpose of student enrichment and support, Lawton Public Schools will look to supplement existing mental health services and training and education within the community by expanding the capacity of the partnership between state education agencies, state mental health agencies and local education agencies, district officials said.

“The AWARE grant means so much to our district,” LPS Superintendent Kevin Hime said. “We can provide additional support in regards to personnel, resources, tools and professional development opportunities. This will just enhance our services for mental and behavioral health. Social emotional learning and support is vital for a successful educational environment and we are thankful that we have the means to expand our capacity at Lawton Public Schools.”

“These grants give Oklahoma the opportunity to implement prevention and intervention strategies that include the best training in the nation on mental health prevention and intervention,” Hofmeister said.

Grant funding for Lawton Public Schools will begin Sept. 30.

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