The Greenlights Grant Initiative Advisory Council is composed of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers who were key to the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. They are deeply committed to making America’s schools safer and ensuring the wellbeing of the nation’s youth. Advisory Council members will provide high-level strategic guidance and direction on how best to achieve Initiative objectives. Additionally, members will continue championing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and urge continued and increased funding for school safety grants, as well as reforms to the grantmaking process to lessen the burden on applicants.

Greenlights Grant Initiative Advisory Council

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Co-Chair 

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Co-Chair 

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Co-Chair

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Co-Chair

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Co-Chair

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23), Co-Chair

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) 

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)

Understanding the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) was signed into law on June 25, 2022, by President Biden following the May 2022 school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. Aiming to enhance public safety and reduce crime in the United States, the BSCA emphasizes proactive crime prevention strategies, community engagement, and partnerships between law enforcement agencies and local organizations. It provides resources and support to strengthen law enforcement capabilities and highlights the importance of accessible mental health and substance abuse treatment to address underlying issues contributing to criminal behavior. It advocates for criminal justice reforms, including alternatives to incarceration and efforts to reduce recidivism rates. 

 The BSCA increased funding for schools by investing in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements to school-wide learning conditions, and school safety. Our work aims to make that funding available to school districts so they can create healthier, safer, and more successful learning environments.

Ultimately, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act aims to create safer communities by promoting collaboration, evidence-based strategies, and comprehensive approaches to crime prevention, law enforcement support, and victim services.

To ensure the monumental grant funding passed as part of the BSCA is utilized to the fullest extent, the Greenlights Grant Initiative program is committed to helping all schools receive federal school safety grants – not just those with the resources to employ competitive grant writers. Our efforts will focus on creating lasting grant opportunities through continued appropriations to these grant pools, as well as simplifying the grantmaking process to increase accessibility in the application process.

Advocacy Item #1

Continued Appropriations for and Increased BSCA Funding

The appropriations process for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 has begun, with action in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. GGI is determined not to let down the students, families, and educators who are depending on Congress to take steps to protect our students. We will encourage Congress to continue prioritizing school safety and mental health grants in the FY25 funding cycle so our children can learn peacefully and safely.

Advocacy Item #2

Reform the Grantmaking Process

The BSCA is a monumental legislative achievement, but implementing the measure has put a spotlight on disparities within the U.S. educational funding system. GGI strives to dramatically streamline the bureaucratic processes that currently make it challenging for in-need and rural districts to access these grants. We will advocate for agencies distributing funding to school districts to change how they communicate with administrators and educators about grants, give districts the time they need to apply, and ensure districts of all sizes are able to access the technical assistance they need to apply for this funding.

The current system rewards districts that can hire a professional grant writer or have employees with the time and expertise to apply for these grants, contributing to the unfair and unequal distribution of federal funding. We need to do more than just level the playing field – we must transform it. Through our efforts, we aspire to see these safety grants within reach of any school district in America.

The Greenlights Grant Initiative, in collaboration with the AASA (The School Superintendents Association), has been working diligently to advocate for legislation called The Creating Access and Resources in Education (CARE) for Student Mental Health Act. The CARE for Student Mental Health Act addresses many of the challenges we've identified in the grant application process. It would require the U.S. Department of Education to proactively email districts about grant opportunities, share detailed examples of successful applications, provide more time for districts to apply for grants, and ensure districts receive comprehensive and accessible technical assistance on completing applications.

In addition to this legislative effort, our advocacy work has yielded tangible results in terms of funding. Through our collaboration with members of the Appropriations Committee, we supported a recent supplemental allocation of $74 million for two Department of Education Mental Health Grant programs: the School-Based Mental Health Services (SBMH) and the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program. This additional funding will provide critical resources to schools and districts in need of mental health support for their students.

Take The Next Step

Does your school district need additional assistance for the grant writing process to keep your students safe and healthy?