May 6, 2022

How to Secure Sustainable Funding for Student Safety Technology

GoGuardian Team
An illustration of a laptop with a shield and checkmark on the screen

With youth suicide rates steadily climbing, administrators and student safety professionals know the value of a robust school safety solution like GoGuardian Beacon. But, questions often arise about how to finance such a platform when district budgets are almost always tight. 

There are traditional and creative ways to unlock sustainable funding that will allow you to add Beacon to your student safety program. In this video, GoGuardian’s government policy expert, Chris Rinkus, answers commonly asked questions about where to find the dollars you need. 

For those who prefer to read, check out a Q&A version of Chris’s interview below.

1. How are schools implementing student health interventions while there are nationwide staff shortages?

Persistent staff shortages can make it difficult for K-12 schools to hire new, highly-specialized professionals such as social workers or school psychologists. So, it’s important for administrators to consider technology solutions, like GoGuardian Beacon, which enable schools to utilize the staff they already have and provide an additional layer of coverage to help identify at-risk behavior. If online activity indicates that a student may be at risk of harm to themselves or others, GoGuardian Beacon alerts the right person, like a principal or counselor, right away.

2. How can administrators secure sustainable funding for a new initiative?

One approach to securing funding is to raise awareness about the urgency and scope of the student mental health crisis, and then gain consensus that it must be addressed. Consider the best ways to communicate with district leaders about the growing number of youth suicides and other serious mental health issues, and how student safety tools like GoGuardian Beacon can help. Once leaders understand the problem and agree that solving it is a priority, the funding resources often follow. 

3. Besides traditional budgets, are there other sources of funding schools should explore?

Yes. One way to avoid the zero-sum debate over resources is to “grow the pie” by successfully advocating for more federal, state, and local funding that is dedicated to improving student mental health outcomes. Many policymakers recognize that there is a growing student mental health crisis, and they are often open to finding ways to help.  The key is to assemble a coalition of supporters that includes teachers and parents who can tell their stories about why additional funding for student mental health solutions, including GoGuardian Beacon, is so important.

4. Can federal funding be used to purchase GoGuardian products? 

Yes. Many forms of federal funding can be used to support the purchase of GoGuardian products, including Beacon. GoGuardian products are allowable expenses under federal programs such as one-time COVID-19 relief funding (like ESSER) and annual federal education funding (like Title I.) Here are some examples.

  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER)

The federal government authorized billions of dollars to help schools recover from the Covid pandemic through three ESSER programs. To date, more than $150 billion in ESSER II and ESSER III funds have not yet been spent. ESSER funds can be used to implement a student safety solution like GoGuardian Beacon to help school personnel identify at-risk behavior and get students help. Be sure to note that, absent an extension by the federal government, ESSER II funds must be spent by September 2023, and ESSER III funds by September 2024. 

  • Sustainability of funding after ESSER expires

There are federal funding options available to implement and sustain solutions like GoGuardian Beacon even after ESSER expires. Annual Title I funds (more than $20 billion a year) and Title IV Part A funds (more than $1 billion a year) are intended to support student mental health initiatives. These funds have increased modestly during each of the past several years. With the federal government concerned about schools’ recovery after pandemic relief dollars expire, it’s reasonable to expect that additional money may be available for school mental health programs, including Beacon, in the coming years. 

GoGuardian is here to support schools as they help children learn, thrive and grow. Check out www.goguardian/beacon to learn more about our student safety platform, and feel free to reach out to us if you need help navigating funding sources for Beacon implementation and sustainability. 

Chris Rinkus is GoGuardian’s senior government affairs manager. He is a former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and a former budget director at D.C. Public Schools.