Green Dot CA Awarded $12.5 Million Mental Health Grant for Supportive Services


The U.S. Department of Education awarded Green Dot Public Schools California a $12.5 million grant to support the recruitment and retention of school-based mental health service providers. This five-year grant will further Green Dot California's mission to eliminate barriers to success by expanding its mental health network. 

Through the grant, Green Dot California can attract and retain mental health providers and expand its team of counselors, social workers, school psychologists, therapists, and mental health interns. 

Susana Campo-Contreras, the senior director of special education & psychological services at Green Dot California, expressed how the pandemic has left mental health staff and l resources. 

This grant, Campo-Contreras said, will bring a lifeline to the psychological services team that provides comprehensive psychological services, including targeted and crisis counseling."We are excited about the possibility of bringing more support to the schools, and our teams feel relief knowing there will be more support for students and families," she added.  

Apart from decreasing caseload, the grant will equip Green Dot California to build more capacity for professional development, which our organization believes in engaging and continually providing opportunities for learning to all staff.

Campo-Contreras noted that this grant reminds her and her staff of why they continue their commitment to providing quality programming for all students. "We increase the ability of students with disabilities to access education here and beyond." Campo-Contreras said, "Green Dot's mission is college, leadership, and life. For students with disabilities, that life component is even more so important. If you don't have quality programming through their years of development, that impact of disability continues."

The grant will support Green Dot California's 10,400 plus students, 86 percent Latinx and 13 percent Black. Having a diverse workforce to match our students’ diverse experiences and ethnicities is paramount. An explicit goal of the grant is implementing diverse hires through policies and practices, including anonymizing resumes, structuring interviews focused on job qualifications, and de-biasing all languages in relevant job postings. 

Green Dot California’s School Mental Health Services department has supported approximately 1,495 crisis interventions, including suicide assessments, threat assessments, safety planning, immediate mental health crisis, and Department of Children and Family Services consultation or reporting within the past two years. Therapeutic services provide students with on-site and direct access to therapists. The Senior Director of Counseling & College Persistence, Janneth Johnson-Smith, explained students are not required to have health insurance for these services for accessibility and a higher chance of students taking part in services.

Further commitment by Green Dot California includes supervisory form project leaders, data access for planning evaluations, and performance reporting. The success of the grant will measure attendance, chronic absenteeism, student retention, suspension, expulsions, referrals for mental health services, and service provider caseload to ensure continuous improvement through the proposed project. 

"We are understanding, addressing, and putting our resources to where the needs of students are," Johnson-Smith said. "This grant allows us to expand those resources and provide sustainable support for our students to address barriers to learning."

We can not change the circumstance in which students walk into our school buildings. Yet, through this grant, mental health service staff will be able to increase their capacity to help address barriers to learning so that all students can achieve in school and, ultimately, in life.