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School Climate

Funding School Climate Initiatives With the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Nick Woolf
Nick Woolf
Funding School Climate Initiatives With the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act



In June of 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) was enacted, marking a historic commitment to addressing mental health and violence in schools. This legislation earmarks over $971 million for school districts to put towards implementing anti-bullying programs, mental health and well-being services, and other supports that can cultivate safe, healthy learning environments for students. 

Each state receives a minimum of $4 million through the BSCA’s Strong Connections Grant program. The majority of states have already released formal applications to their respective Local Education Agencies (LEAs), highlighting a crucial opportunity for high-need districts to address violence, school climate, and student mental health challenges.

This article provides district leaders with key information on the BSCA, and recommendations for eligible programs and tools that can be funded under the Stronger Connections Grant program.


Table of Contents: 

  1. What is the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act?
  2. What Does the Application Process Entail?
  3. Using BSCA Funds to Enhance School Climate and Safety
  4. Next Steps for District Leaders

Key Takeaways:

Funding Available for Addressing Student Safety and Well-being

  • The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) provides districts with potential funding for programs and tools that can enhance school climate and safety.
  • The application process for BSCA funding is accessible through each state’s educational agency.
  • The three primary domains where BSCA funds can be allocated include understanding school climate dynamics, establishing and monitoring behavioral supports within a MTSS, and teaching essential life skills.

What is the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act?

At its core, the BSCA is a comprehensive legislative package that aims to enhance the safety and well-being of students and educators in school environments across the country. Its signing into law represented a watershed moment in the United States’ approach to addressing critical issues such as mental health, violence prevention, and safety in schools.

“All students deserve learning environments that are safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair. Schools can both keep their school community—including students and school staff—safe while ensuring every student is included, supported, and treated fairly.”
– Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D., Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education

The BSCA is multifaceted, addressing various aspects of school safety and mental health. Its primary focus areas include:

  • Enhanced Support for Mental Health Services: Recognizing the growing concern around mental health among students, the BSCA allocates substantial funds for expanding mental health services in schools. This includes the provision of resources for early intervention, counseling, and holistic support systems for students experiencing mental health challenges.
  • Violence Prevention Initiatives: A significant portion of the act is dedicated to implementing and enhancing violence prevention programs. These initiatives range from anti-bullying activities and programs to more comprehensive systems aimed at identifying and mitigating potential threats within school settings.
  • Training and Resources for School Personnel: Educators and school staff play a crucial role in maintaining safe learning environments. Given this, the BSCA provides for professional development and training programs. These programs are designed to equip school personnel with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage and respond to safety and mental health issues.

Watch Now: Improve School Climate With Strategic Student Feedback


What Does the Application Process Entail?

The application process for the BSCA funding, particularly the Stronger Connections Grant program, is designed to be accessible through each state’s respective educational agency. While the specifics vary in each state, the general process entails:

  1. Each commonwealth’s department or agency of education is responsible for disseminating application materials to local education agencies (LEAs).
  2. LEAs can submit detailed proposals outlining their intended use of the funds.
  3. The applications are then reviewed based on a set of criteria that prioritize high-need districts and impactful proposals.


Deadlines for the application process vary by state, but generally follow a timeline that allows for the efficient and equitable distribution of funds. As of January 2024, many states have already set application deadlines within the first several months of the calendar year. This provides districts with the opportunity to apply for (and potentially begin implementing) funded programs by the 2024-25 academic year.

High-Need LEAs

The BSCA also requires states to define “high-need LEA” for the purposes of eligibility for Stronger Connections funds. A “high-need” district is usually characterized by:

  • A high degree of poverty
  • A need for mental health staff
  • High rates of chronic absenteeism

In many cases, districts in regions that recently experienced a natural disaster or traumatic event may be designated as “high-need.” In most states, the majority of funds from the Stronger Connections Grant program will be awarded to high-need LEAs.

Using BSCA Funds to Enhance School Climate and Safety

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides a unique opportunity for districts to access funds for programs and tools that can significantly enhance the school climate and safety. Three key areas where these funds can be allocated are:

  1. Understanding school climate dynamics
  2. Establishing and monitoring behavioral supports within a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS)
  3. Teaching essential skills like anti-bullying, collaboration, and conflict resolution

Understanding School Climate Dynamics

One of the most effective ways to utilize BSCA funds is by investing in tools that help districts understand school climate dynamics. This can be achieved through comprehensive stakeholder surveys, which often solicit feedback and measure perceptions of students, staff, families, and community members.

Research-backed surveys—such as Panorama’s School Climate Survey—are instrumental in gauging the overall environment of a school. This survey can identify areas of concern, and (eventually) aid educators in selecting tailored interventions to meet schoolwide, classroom, and individual student needs. Moreover, by leveraging advanced data analytics, schools can turn survey insights into actionable strategies that foster a positive and inclusive school climate.

Establishing and Monitoring Behavioral Supports

Another critical area for the application of BSCA funds is in establishing robust behavioral supports. MTSS platforms (such as Panorama Student Success) are particularly effective in this regard. They provide a structured approach to identifying and supporting students with varying behavioral, attendance, and academic needs. 

These platforms can help schools implement evidence-based interventions at multiple levels—from universal strategies that benefit all students to more targeted supports for those requiring additional assistance.

Teaching Essential Anti-Bullying and Conflict Resolution 

Funds from the BSCA are also well-suited for educational resources that focus on teaching students critical life skills such as anti-bullying, collaboration, and conflict resolution. 

A screenshot of a strategy from Panorama's Playbook.
A strategy focused on anti-bullying from Panorama's Playbook.

Instructional resource libraries that include evidence- and research-based interventions and lesson plans on these topics–such as Panorama’s Playbook–are invaluable. These resources can help educators impart these essential skills effectively, fostering a safe and respectful learning environment.


Frequently Asked Questions: 

1. Where can I learn more about the funding available through the Stronger Connections Grant Program?
This SchoolSafety.gov webpage includes an in-depth FAQ document that covers effective use of Stronger Connections funds. You can also learn more by visiting your state's department of education website.

2. What types of tools and services can be funded through this grant?
The three primary domains where BSCA/Stronger Connections Grant Program funds can be allocated include: understanding school climate dynamics, establishing and monitoring behavioral supports within a MTSS, and teaching essential life skills. Learn more about Panorama products and services that are eligible for funding through BSCA here.

3. Can Panorama Education support my district with applying for this funding?
Our Grants Team works with schools and districts across the country to help provide advise and guidance when it comes to applying for various funding opportunities. Please contact us to learn more about how Panorama's products and services might align with your district's needs and BSCA funding options.


Next Steps for District Leaders

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act not only provides the necessary resources but also empowers educators and administrators to create safer, more supportive learning environments for every student. By strategically utilizing these funds, particularly through evidence-based tools and programs. district leaders can effectively address the critical needs of their school communities.

Contact the Panorama Grants Team to Learn More About BSCA Funding Options

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