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Posted on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Ypsilanti, Willow Run schools receive piece of $24M to boost student achievement

By Danielle Arndt

Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts will receive a portion of $24 million in federal grant money to help increase student achievement.

The grant, called think.respect, is part of the federal Safe and Supportive Schools initiative and is aimed at improving students’ learning by coordinating academics with interventions to support students’ social, emotional and physical health needs.


Willow Run, left, and Ypsilanti high schools.

The grant extends three years and was awarded via the Michigan Department of Education.

For most children, their overall health impacts their performance in the classroom, and health is determined by many factors — neighborhood safety, bullying, mental health, alcohol use, obesity, race relations and other reasons, according to the MDE’s Office of School Support Services.

“This grant will show us how we can help students address those problems and feel secure in the school environment,” School Support Services director Kyle Guerrant said Monday in a news release.

State Superintendent Michael Flanagan called the think.respect concept a holistic approach to education.

“We need to better understand health inequities and how they affect school culture and climate,” he said in a statement.

Flanagan also stated the 23 Michigan schools awarded the grant money will be able to select the interventions, from an approved list, that they would like to implement, including: anti-bullying programs, restorative justice, parent and youth engagement, the Michigan Model, Eliminating Barriers for Learning and community involvement.

Ypsilanti Public Schools is using a portion ($20,000) of its $149,500 grant to partner with the Dispute Resolution Center for support services at the high school.

Other Michigan school districts that received a think.respect grant include Detroit, Flint, Wyoming, Saginaw, Benton Harbor and Lansing.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Peter Eckstein

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

I hope (against hope) that those administering this grant will not operate under the fiction that failures in student achievement begin in school. Parents are their children's first teachers--for better or for worse--for the first five years of their lives, and their actions will heavily determine whether their children start school ready to succeed or programmed for failure. A significant portion of this money should be used to reach parents--one-on-one or in group settings--to discuss how they can help their children achieve the degree of cognitive and emotional development to give them a good chance to succeed.