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 capacity to extend services to students.  

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 and psychological services at Green Dot California, said this grant will bring a lifeline to Green Dot California's the psychological services team, which provides comprehensive psychological services, such as targeted and crisis counseling for students. "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," Campo-Contreras added. Apart from decreasing caseload, the grant will equip Green Dot California to build more capacity for professional development. 

Campo-Contreras noted that this grant reinforces Green Dot California's commitment to provide 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 more than 10,400 Green Dot California students, of which 86 percent identify and Latinx and 13 percent identify as Black. Having a diverse workforce to match its students’ diverse backgrounds is paramount to Green Dot California's mission, which aligns to the 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 team 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 over 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."