Kenai Central High School is photographed on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School is photographed on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Grant funding helps buoy Kenai Peninsula Borough School District learning programs

Throughout the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, several programs and activities are offered through the use of grant money.

According to board documents, in the 2017 to 2018 school year, 97 grant applications were reviewed and approved for submitting in Fiscal Year 2018. These include grants from Endeavor, GCI Alaska Community Foundation and the Department of Education.

“Most importantly is the Project Aware grant,” said Superintendent Sean Dusek at last week’s Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting. “We’ve had tremendous results with that at Homer Flex and Kenai Alternative schools. There’s a lot of great work happening there.”

The Project Aware is a five-year grant targeting youth mental health support. It’s in partnership with the Alaska Department of Education and shared with the Anchorage and Mat-Su school districts. Alaska is one of 20 states that received the Project AWARE grant, which is awarded to areas where students are at a higher risk for stress and may need more help addressing mental health and finding community resources. The grant helps cover the salaries of counselors at Kenai Alternative High School and Homer Flex School.

Currently, the district is in year four of a five-year grant, and the Department of Education has no plan to continue the grant.

“There is hope that another grant opportunity will become available. Alaska has solid and compelling data to apply for more grants and topics of future meetings will be planning for sustainability if another grant is not awarded,” according to board documents.

Dusek said he would like to see the program continue, with or without grant support.

The district also receives several grants from Andeavor, which was acquired by Marathon Petroleum on Oct. 1. The grants help support programs such as the UPSTREAM Academy, a program that aims to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) awareness and readiness among middle school students, with a focus on those from underserved populations.

In 2017, the district received $175,000 in grants from Andeavor targeting expansion of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) opportunities for students, according to district documents. In 2018, follow up applications were submitted and the district was awarded $85,000 to expand their programs.

“We get great support from Andeavor,” Dusek said. “It’s a great partnership that we developed there with lots of good work happening.”

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