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Project AWARE

Seven high schools of Milwaukee Public Schools are involved in the Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education) grant funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Project AWARE grants are aimed to improve behavioral health awareness among school-age youth and their communities.

The three primary goals of Project AWARE are to

  • increase awareness of mental health issues among school-age youth;
  • train school personnel and other adults who interact with school-age youth so that they can detect and respond to mental health issues; and
  • connect children, youth, and families who may experience behavioral health issues with appropriate services.

Schools work toward these goals through

  • increasing access to school- and community-based mental health services;
  • collaboration among families, schools, and communities;
  • coordination among state and local youth-serving agencies;
  • culturally specific and developmentally appropriate mental health services;
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training for staff members;
  • outreach to youth and families, behavioral health promotion, and mental illness prevention strategies;
  • systems for identifying signs and symptoms early and linking families to existing services;
  • integration of mental health services into the PBIS framework; and
  • youth violence prevention strategies.

Project AWARE schools provide

  • training of staff in YMHFA, trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and/or de-escalation;
  • continued coaching in mental health, trauma, and restorative practices provided by a Project AWARE district team;
  • a commitment to using restorative practices as an alternative to suspending students with mental health needs;
  • creation of a re-entry plan for students returning from after care and/or a behavioral reassignment school;
  • a school health team, which includes a mental health focus, that will meet monthly with an administrator present;
  • a PBIS framework with fidelity of implementation at all tiers;
  • assurance that all students in grades 7, 9, and 11 complete the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) each year;
  • a commitment to increasing both knowledge and the implementation of best practices related to mental health services for youth and families;
  • continued promotion and awareness of positive mental health and connecting students to needed mental health services;
  • committed time for professional development and coaching on various mental health and trauma-informed topics; and
  • an assigned staff member working with 7-10 students receiving RENEW, a PBIS intervention for high school students.

Project AWARE Contacts

Grant Coordinators

Kristin Annen

Brian Rudolph
Phone: 414-475-8657



Director of the Department of Research, Assessment, and Data:

Dr. Melanie Stewart
Phone: 414-475-8751


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