The Butte Strong Fund has approved a grant of more than $1.6 million to extend a major initiative to address emotional trauma in Butte County schools after the Camp Fire.
The Butte Strong Fund, managed by the North Valley Community Foundation, approved a grant request of $1,611,270 from the Butte County Office of Education. The funding will be used for trauma response, healing and recovery initiatives for all Butte County schools, including charter and private schools.
The Butte Strong Fund Committee, composed of nine community members, approved the proposal at a meeting Friday.
The grant funds will be used to support continued mental health services in county schools for students, family and staff displaced and impacted by the Camp Fire. The funding will allow more counselors to be hired, adds a parent outreach effort to provide support to families, provides training, allows the BCOE to hire a grant developer to seek additional funding sources, and continues intervention and referral efforts for students, parents and staff.
“With thousands of students and hundreds of staff members displaced from homes and schools, the magnitude of the mental health needs in Butte County continues to be staggering,” said Scott Lindstrom, co-coordinator of trauma response and recovery for BCOE. “From learning to teaching to parenting, every aspect of life has been impacted by the trauma, loss and chaos created by the Camp Fire. Out of this has come an unprecedented effort that crosses the boundaries of all school districts and charters in the county.
“While our counselors and therapeutic activities served hundreds of kids and staff over the past few months, the children and families of Butte County will take years to fully recover,” Lindstrom said. “Kids still wonder about their safety. Many families, including families of educators, remain uncertain about what will be called ‘home’ in the future. This grant from the NVCF and the Butte Strong Fund will be invaluable in supporting the ongoing healing process for our community. The services provided will be instrumental in reestablishing emotional safety, improving skills for resilience, and growing a sense of well-being that will come from a community that is truly in it together.”
The BCOE’s Trauma Response and Recovery Project will cost more than $3 million and BCOE is seeking other funding partners.
After the fire, BCOE coordinated placement of more than 100 volunteer counselors from across California in county schools. In January, with funding from NVCF and Sierra Health, BCOE hired 22 part-time counselors to serve through the end of the school year.
“I’m ecstatic that BCOE will be able to continue supporting schools in a deeper and more coordinated manner,” said BCOE Assistant Superintendent Michelle Zevely. “The mental health and trauma response work that has been done by Scott Lindstrom and Roy Applegate with support from Matt Reddam and our fire recovery counselors made an important impact that can now be sustained and built upon thanks to the Butte Strong funding.”
The $1.6 million grant from the Butte Strong Fund is just the latest in dozens of grants for education and health and wellness initiatives. More than $3.2 million in grants has been distributed in those categories.
“We know thousands of our children, families, teachers and educators endured unimaginable trauma on Nov. 8 and the ensuing months following the Camp Fire,” said Alexa Benson-Valavanis, president and CEO of the North Valley Community Foundation. “We have also continued to learn how painful and damaging that unhealed trauma can be for years to come if not truly tended to and cared for. We owe it to those impacted by the fire, especially those precious children whose lives are really just beginning, to create space and tools for true healing.”
About the Butte Strong Fund
The Butte Strong Fund was established earlier this year as a partnership of three major fundraising efforts by the NVCF, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the Aaron Rodgers NorCal Fire Recovery Fund. The Butte Strong Fund provides funding for eligible organizations or local government entities that are directly serving people affected by the Camp Fire. Individual assistance is handled through those organizations.
Organizations interested in applying for Butte Strong Fund grants can visit ButteStrongFund.org to determine if they qualify for funding. Those that do can submit a brief grant inquiry before being invited to submit a full application. Staff at NVCF will facilitate the application process.
The Butte Strong Fund is still receiving donations. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Butte Strong Fund, 240 Main St., Suite 260, Chico, CA 95928 or by visiting www.buttestrongfund.org.