Madison Consolidated Schools has been awarded a $205,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Inititative for Indiana K-12 students.

MCS is one of 52 school corporation selected for the grant, which is intended to encourage the state’s public and charter schools to develop comprehensive counseling models that address the academic, college, career, and social and emotional counseling needs of students, said Angela Vaughn, MCS director of student services.

In Jefferson County, that process began in April with a luncheon that included representatives from business, industry, health care and governmental sectors who brainstormed ways the community could work together to help all students succeed.

The grant will allow the district to move forward with its plan to create “a multi-tiered system of support for students in kindergarten through 12th grade,” Vaughn said Tuesday. “We have a system for academic counseling. Now we will build one to meet the social and emotional needs of students.”

Part of the grant will be used to provide Applied Suicide Intervetion Skills Training (ASIST) program to all employees in the district, Vaughn said. Everyone from teachers and administrators to bus drivers, cooks and custodians will be trained to recognize a student who may be at risk of suicide and help that student create a plan to keep them safe.

The grant also will fund consultants from the American Institutes for Research, who will help the district develop an Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System that involves using “predictors,” such as student performance, attendance, discipline and other issues, to help identify at-risk students and reach out to them first.

Additionally, Vaughn said the district plans to hire someone to coordinate available community resources for students and their families, to offer “wrap-around” support, such as access to food, health care, child care, employment services and other programs that exist in the county.

“The needs we see in the schools exist in the entire community,” Vaughn said. “We want to make sure everyone knows what’s readily available. ... Anything a child needs – food, clothing, we will have a system to pull all of those resources together.”

The Lilly grant comes on the heels of a $40,000 grant from the Community Foundation to the Healthy Communities Initiative for implementing a Zero Suicide program, said HCI coordinator Carri Dirksen. Healthy Communities was established by the KDH Foundation and Envision Jefferson County to get the community involved in addressing the major health needs in the county, such as suicide, drug abuse and poverty-related issues.

Though the grants go to separate entities, the goals of the programs they will fund go hand in hand.

The schools are one of several subgroups that are key to HCIs goal of reducing the rate of substance abuse and sucide deaths, which is on the rise in the county, Dirksen said. Other groups include medical and mental health providers, business, industry, local government and the kids and parents, themselves, Dirksen said.

Because MCS has its own grant, Dirksen said her funding can be used to target other portions of the community to address these issues.

“We don’t want to overlap,” Vaughn said. “But we want to make sure there are no gaps” in services, especially to the students. “They [HCI] understand what we’re doing, so they can use their money to address other needs.”