Center for Peacemaking and Boulé partner on grant from Better Together Fund

News Release

Mar. 24, 2021

Peace Works students

MILWAUKEE — The Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and Sigma Pi Phi Beta Alpha Boulé were awarded a $250,000 grant through Advocate Aurora Health’s Better Together Fund to deliver support services for students struggling with mental health, academic and/or behavioral challenges in Milwaukee schools.

The 4 Schools Mental Health Initiative, a pilot program in four schools—two MPS (Metcalfe School and Howard Pratt) and two charter (Howard Fuller Academy and Milwaukee Academy of Arts & Sciences), focuses on addressing the mental health of students associated with, or exacerbated by, COVID-19. The 4 Schools model is family-centered and designed to improve resiliency, relationships, and social-emotional outcomes.

"At school, the compromised mental health of students can increase barriers to learning and hurt their relationships with classmates and school staff. Virtual learning has compounded pre-existing education disparities and made it more difficult for students and families to access resources, connect to schools, and manage mental health challenges,” said Larry Waters, Sire Archon of Sigma Pi Phi Beta Alpha Boulé. “This grant from the Better Together Fund will provide necessary support for staff and therapists to ensure students are successful.”

In June 2020, Sigma Pi Phi Alpha Beta Boulé commissioned a study on the educational development of low-income and African American students during the pandemic that identified key areas of action. The 4 Schools initiative addresses these key areas and promotes best practices in the clinical setting, classroom, and wider school community.

"The Better Together Fund grant will help develop this important initiative that, in time, can improve social-emotional outcomes and restores relationships by providing strategies that better equip students to become resilient learners while simultaneously building school and family partnerships,” said Patrick Kennelly, director of Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.

Peace Works has been delivered in public and private schools in Milwaukee and Chicago since 1997. Since 2014, Peace Works has served over 1,100 students in MPS Behavioral Reassignment Schools, delivering its curriculum and tracking data related to student behavior and success, including attendance, suspension, learning plan goals, and student satisfaction data as well as data that measures student socioemotional development.

About the Center for Peacemaking

Housed within the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Peacemaking contributes to instruction, research and community engagement at the university. For the past 10 years, the Center, through its Peace Works program, has helped behavioral reassignment schools, traditional schools, Catholic schools and youth-serving agencies teach young people to modify behaviors while simultaneously working to increase young people's connections to their schools and protective factors from violence.

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