Students, parents, teachers, and staff are all more concerned than ever about security in schools and universities. Parents want to send their children to safe, secure institutions. Students want to focus on learning and academic success. Teachers and staff want to focus on educating. An unsafe campus directly impedes these goals.
However, you can take concrete steps to improve campus security and ensure a safe learning environment. From free security assessments and emergency drills to intensive training and new technology, you have specific, actionable options to improve safety at your school.
Some of these options, such as advanced training or enhanced security technology, will require significant investment. Thankfully there are state and federal funding programs that can pay for anything from mental health services to cell signal repeaters that help students and staff contact emergency services.
Don’t wait for a crisis. Start assessing and improving your campus security today. Begin by auditing your security and finding weak spots so you can develop a proposed solution. Find a source of state or federal funding and prepare a measurable, concrete plan of action.
These funding organizations receive hundreds of applications each year, so we have gathered advice and resources to make sure your proposal stands out.
Invest in School Safety Projects
As you analyze your campus’s security concerns, there are several areas that can make a dramatic difference in a crisis. Emergency training is vital, and both teachers, students, staff, and local first responders greatly benefit from enhanced training on school emergencies. Schools can also try to prevent these crises in the first place by investing in mental health services, training to prevent violence and recognize warning signs, and anonymous reporting systems.
Technology plays a vital role in modern campus security. Metal detectors, locks, alarms, lighting, and emergency notification systems can all buy precious moments during an emergency. Fire detectors, alarms, and sprinklers provide ample warning of a fire, while enhanced lock systems and metal detectors can help deter active threats.
Emergency notification is vital during a campus crisis. According to the 2022 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Survey, over a third of the respondents said that they only used a single system to alert students, staff, and faculty of emergencies.
During a crisis, campus faculty needs to quickly relay information, while students and staff need reliable cellular coverage to contact first responders. Delays in communication and response cost lives. Ensuring strong cellular coverage across your entire campus can make a vital difference during a crisis.
Campus Connection Issues
Unfortunately, cell signal dead zones are a familiar headache for school administrations. Dense construction materials like stone, concrete, and energy-efficient glass all interfere with cellular signal. Even a building close to a cell tower may have no reception inside.
Sometimes the cell signal itself may cause connection issues. As carriers develop and deploy the latest generation of C-band and millimeter wave 5G frequencies, they trade distance for signal strength and speed. These frequencies provide unparalleled speeds, but they can’t reach far from the tower.
Fortunately, cellular signal repeater systems can bridge these gaps in coverage to provide reliable cell signal across an entire campus. And because a connected campus is a safe campus, a number of state and federal grant programs can help schools purchase and install a repeater system.
Explore Major Grant Programs
The main sources of federal funding are the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) STOP School Violence Program and the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) from the Department of Justice (DOJ). These organizations distribute the grants to local law enforcement, state or city governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, and school districts.
Organizations that receive these grants can use the funding to:
- Train school officials to respond to mental health emergencies.
- Train school personnel and students to prevent student violence.
- Train local law enforcement to deter student violence.
- Develop anonymous reporting systems.
- Formally assess campus safety and threats.
- Install metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures.
- Install technology that expedites notification of local law enforcement during emergencies.
As you prepare your grant application, you may request funding for one or more of these stated purposes. Make sure your application is specific and actionable for the best odds at success.
In addition to the STOP and SVPP programs, there are a variety of state and federal grants to improve safety and security at your school. SchoolSafety.gov offers a convenient grant finder tool, while a BJA State Policy Advisor can directly consult with you on funding options in your area.
Many states have their own safety funding programs, so look around for information on your specific state.
An Educator’s Guide to Amazing Applications
Grant programs see countless applications and proposals, so yours needs to stand out to ensure success.
Here are some tips to help you make the best application possible:
- Start your grant application process early. The windows for 2022 are closed, so keep an eye on the SVPP webpage for when the next funding cycle begins. The more time you have to prepare your application, the more specific and polished you can be.
- Review, review, and re-review legal requirements for your desired grant. Grant recipients need to comply with all federal statutes and regulations related to the grant, and you don’t want a technicality ruining your application.
- Assess your campus and develop proposal ideas. Carefully consider your campus’s security strengths and weaknesses and figure out which areas you want to bolster with the grant funding.
- Create SMART goals. These agencies want to invest their grant funds to ensure results. Make sure your goal is Specific and addresses precise safety issues. Your project should have metrics that are Measurable and realistically Achievable, and your project needs to be Relevant and Time-bound with an actual end-date in mind.
- Plan out a realistic budget and timeframe with the help of a Budget Detail Worksheet. Show that you understand the details of your proposed project and the required investment of time and money.
- Solicit community support through letters and endorsements of the proposal.
- Make sure your grant is polished and professional. Consider hiring a grant writer to ensure a compelling proposal.
- Submit your application 72 hours prior to the deadline. If they find errors in your initial submission, you will have some time to correct and reapply.
- Avoid these common mistakes.
Emergencies don’t wait for federal funding and grant deadlines. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take today to begin improving your campus’s security for free. Visit SchoolSafety.gov for a treasure trove of free resources. Reach out to a Protective Security Advisor (PSA) to assess your campus’s safety. Utilize Exercise Starter Kits to refine and polish plans for different emergencies.
If you’re ready to take more intensive steps to improve campus security, read our eBook for more information on obtaining a grant to promote safety and security. Or reach out to us directly for more information on our connectivity solutions for schools.