In the Spring of 2014, the Center on Disability Studies assisted the Hawaii Department of Education in writing grant applications to two interrelated Federal initiatives that are part of the Obama administration’s response to the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. Both initiatives share the name “AWARE” which stands for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education.
The Hawaii Department of Education was awarded both grants, effective October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2019 (with the expectation of a no-cost extension through 2020). The Department has engaged the Center on Disability Studies through Memoranda of Agreement to evaluate both projects, which are being implemented in the same three School Complex Areas: Waianae-Nanakuli, Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua, and Kau-Keaau-Pahoa.
The larger project is called HI-AWARE and is funded by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to strengthen the capacity of schools to implement strategies and practices that help prevent mental health issues and to identify and support students with developing mental health issues before they reach the stage of meeting criteria for special education or Section 504 services. The smaller project is funded by the US Department of Education to promote development of school-wide “climates” of acceptance and care for ALL students, according to the principles of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). Given this focus on “school climate transformation” the project is known as HI-AWARE SCT.