Funding Opportunities: Spotlight on Georgia
Since 2014 the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Prevention and Community Support Section (PCS) has partnered with Committee for Children to provide funding for the Second Step® family of programs. This grant funding is specifically designed to support child abuse prevention through personal safety training and social-emotional learning (SEL) in schools.
With this unique focus, the Georgia PCS team earmarked some of their federal child abuse prevention funding to provide Second Step programs to school districts, charter schools, and community-based organizations as a part of their efforts to reduce child maltreatment. This intermediate and long-term prevention strategy has allowed nearly 400 schools across the state to teach children personal safety skills within the broader context of SEL. In January 2022, school districts in Georgia will once again have the opportunity to apply for the grant to fund any or all of the following Second Step programs:
- Second Step® Early Learning (PreK)
- Second Step® Elementary (K–Grade 5)
- Second Step® Child Protection Unit (PreK–Grade 5)
- Second Step® Bullying Prevention Unit (K–Grade 5)
- Second Step® Middle School (Grades 6–8)
Past grant recipients have reported many benefits from Second Step programs, including improved child safety and improved school climate. The Second Step family of programs helps schools become safe, supportive spaces where students learn to practice social-emotional skills—such as problem-solving, self-awareness, and social awareness—to improve communication and connectedness. Second Step programs complement and align with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Georgia’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Plan.
See the Q&A below for more details about the grant and to learn keys to success from the Georgia DFCS team.
We Asked, They Answered: Grants for Second Step® Programs Q&A
Second Step programs can help prevent child abuse and bullying, promote better connectedness among students and staff, and improve learning outcomes. To better understand how schools in Georgia can apply for a grant funding Second Step programs, we spoke with several education leaders about their experience and recommendations.
At the district level, we spoke with Kelly McNabb, positive school culture support supervisor at Cobb County School District, and Mason Ranow, a teacher at Thomaston-Upson County schools.
What prompted you to seek funding for Second Step® programs?
Ranow: Even before the pandemic, we recognized an increase in the number of students coming into school without the ability to regulate their emotions or communicate with their teachers or classmates. This inability often led to students becoming aggressive or completely shutting down. Thus began our search on how to best meet their needs.
Once you decided to apply for the grant, what was the first step you took?
Ranow: Aside from obtaining a copy of the application to see what information would be needed, we attended some very useful Second Step program webinars hosted by Committee for Children.
Can you walk us through your grant application process and the conversations you had to build support?
McNabb: We collaborated with leadership and shared the program with stakeholders to get their take on it.
Ranow: During the Second Step program webinar, we talked with Committee for Children staff. Everyone we’ve worked with at the organization has been instrumental in guiding us through the grant application process. In addition, our school and district leaders provided a great amount of data and other information required for the grant application.
What data did you need?
McNabb: Log entries documenting behavior, School Climate Star Rating, and data from counselor visits.
Ranow: We had to provide enrollment data, discipline data, and data on maltreatment in our community. The data was not hard to gather since we had already collected and analyzed discipline data, and online sources for community data are publicly accessible.
What advice do you have for future applicants seeking funding?
McNabb: Get ahead of the grant writing and turn in the application early. Once our lead was trained in Atlanta, we had to wait for approval of the funds to order the programs. This put us behind schedule for when we wanted to receive the materials and train teachers with the product in hand. Also, the process would be much smoother with a dedicated person to oversee implementation at each school.
Ranow: If SEL is a priority for your school, this grant can help you meet that goal. Read about the grant and application steps and go for it! This opportunity has really helped our teachers meet our students where they are with social-emotional learning. We truly feel blessed as a school to have received this grant so we can continue to reap the benefits of Second Step programs.
At the state level, we spoke with Deborah C. Chosewood, deputy director of the Prevention and Community Support Section for Georgia DFCS.
Why is this grant important, and what effects have you seen over time?
Chosewood: The grant for Second Step programs is important because social-emotional learning has been shown to greatly affect children’s educational capacity, their behavior at school and at home, their sense of self-worth, and their resilience after potential traumatic events. Second Step programs help schools in Georgia create safe, healthy, and nurturing relationships and environments for children and families. Giving children tools to succeed academically, emotionally, and in their relationships early in life allows for the healthy development of adults ready and able to be successful members of society. As a result of this grant, we’ve seen a significant decrease in in-school suspensions and a greater percentage of children safe from child maltreatment.
What are the top three things applicants should focus on when applying for this funding?
Chosewood: The first thing to focus on is a strong and realistic implementation plan for the program. This should include collaborating with district leaders. The second is getting all the required attachments and documents completed, including getting original signatures where needed. The third most important thing to focus on is contacting Committee for Children to discuss your budget and what you need to order. The organization will help guide you toward a successful implementation.
What might cause an application to be disqualified or receive a low score?
Chosewood: Applications receive low scores when they don’t adequately describe their school’s need for Second Step programs and how the programs will add to their school’s climate and behavioral supports. Common factors that disqualify applicants include:
- Not submitting all the required attachments
- Lacking signatures on required attachments
- Not being registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) or Data Universal Number System (DUNS)
- Submitting late applications
How can schools and districts set themselves up for success once they’re awarded the grant?
Chosewood: The biggest determinant is making time in the school schedule to teach each Second Step lesson. Schools and districts often find they need to adjust the schedule they’d laid out in the application to provide teachers with more time for the lessons and to build in time for makeup lessons to accommodate unforeseen events that come up.
The key to successful implementation of the grant is to complete every lesson by the end of the school year. And, of course, staying in touch with our office helps when there are difficulties or challenges. Communication is key.
When You’re Ready to Apply for Funding, Our Experts Can Help
Regardless of a district’s size, collective voices and coordinated initiatives have a much better chance of succeeding than stand-alone efforts. Committee for Children has deep experience with SEL-related funding opportunities and our staff are available to help identify grants, draft applications, and assist with program implementation planning. Please see the Grant Application Checklist for more tips on how to find and apply for a grant to fund Second Step programs.
Jordan Posamentier, director of policy and advocacy at Committee for Children, offers this advice for school districts seeking funding for SEL initiatives:
- Ensure you can effectively build a robust SEL effort by combining eligible state dollars with federal COVID-19 relief funds dedicated to SEL
- Tailor SEL efforts to support your communities’ priorities, such as student mental health, school safety, or academic recovery from learning loss due to the pandemic or other issues
- Utilize the Committee for Children Grant-Writing Toolkit for funding tips specific to the Second Step family of programs
Ready to take the next step? Contact us to discuss your needs.
Georgia Second Step® Programs Grant
As of Fiscal Year 20221
Students promoted to next grade
Students free from in-school suspension
Students free from out-of-school suspension and expulsions
Students free from child maltreatment
- The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Prevention and Community Support Section