The Paterson Board of Education has been awarded a Full-Service Community Schools grant that will provide it with $2,097,165 that will deepen community partnerships and connect children and families to vital resources that meet their holistic needs, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

The award is among $74 million in new, five-year Full-Service Community Schools grants that were announced.

“We know that comprehensive, wrap-around approaches — including nutrition assistance; mental health services; early childhood education; and access to high-quality afterschool summer learning, and enrichment programs — all are crucial for accelerating our students’ academic success and their recovery from the pandemic by helping them thrive both inside and outside of school,” said Miguel Cardona, secretary of the USDOE.

This investment builds on the USDOE’s efforts to support academic success, expanding access to mental health and health services, supporting strong family engagement and community partnerships and helping schools provide students and families with the resources they need to thrive.

Research indicates that positive learning environments where students receive key services — including nutritional, dental, vision and mental health services — are critical for accelerating academic recovery. Students learn better, have increased attendance and are more engaged in their learning environment when their whole needs are met.

This year’s grantees will support 102 school districts, 292 schools and 229,549 students by providing a range of services, including by increasing early learning opportunities and expanding cross-agency coordination for community violence interventions.

The new grantees are committed to implementing the four pillars of evidence-based community schools that improve achievement and other outcomes for students: 1) integrated student supports that address out-of-school barriers to learning through partnerships with social and health service agencies and providers; 2) expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities; 3) active family and community engagement; and 4) collaborative leadership and practices.

You can view a list of all the recent awardees and learn more about the grant program in the full news release.