St. Louis County Awarded $1.7 Million Grant To Improve Academic Performance and Reduce Violence Among Teenagers
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health has been awarded a 4-year, $1.7 million grant to implement and evaluate efforts to improve academic performance and reduce violence among teenagers.
“Youth violence is extremely troubling and can have lifelong consequences,” County Executive Steve Stenger said. “We want to do whatever we can to prevent youth violence while promoting academic success. This grant will be used to help us identify which approaches work best to accomplish both.”
“Violence of any kind is a threat to public health,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “We’re calling this effort ‘Project RESTORE’ – an acronym for ‘Reconciliation and Empowerment to Support Tolerance and Race Equity’.”
The grant was awarded by the Office of Minority Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Partners with the County Department of Health in the research effort will include the St. Louis County Police Department, the Police Athletic League, the Department of Criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and three area school districts: Hazelwood School District, Normandy School District, and The School District of University City.
A series of intervention strategies will be implemented among this group. These interventions will include peer mentoring and life-skills training, academic tutoring, after-school and summer programs, training for educators, and proactive parent engagement.
The violence rate and other outcomes among the students participating in these programs will be compared to outcomes among students from similar demographics.
Researchers hope that successful interventions will improve academic outcomes, reduce disciplinary actions, decrease crime and gun violence, cut down on arrests and court referrals, and promote positive behavioral health and family engagement.
“This is a great opportunity to determine what is most effective in bringing positive change to the lives of young people at a very impressionable age,” Stenger said. “A lot of people are very interested in this research. What we learn in St. Louis County will make a real difference in our community and across the country.”