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Obama administration gives schools millions in anti-gun violence grant money

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks about education, Monday, July 7, 2014, during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington. The nation's largest teachers' union wants Duncan to quit. Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for his resignation. The vote underscores the long standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers' unions _ historically a steadfast Democratic ally. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The Department of Education has committed nearly $250 million to the nation's schools under a program aimed at countering the gun violence.

The grants are part of the White House's "Now Is The Time" program announced in 2013, which was a response to shootings around the country, including the one at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has announced almost $250 million in anti-gun violence grants to schools around the country. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The White House proposed a four-part plan that included closing background check loopholes and banning "military-style assault weapons." Congress failed to pass a gun bill, but the administration is able to make good on other elements of its plan, which is largely grant funding to make schools safe and provide access to mental health services.

"When equipped with proper training and supported by evidence-based school discipline policies, they can deter crime with their presence and advance community policing objectives," the White House said at the time. "School psychologists, social workers, and counselors can help create a safe and nurturing school climate by providing mental health services to students who need help."

Most of the grants announced by the Department of Education are categorized as School Climate Transformation grants. They will provide $35.8 million to 71 school districts in 23 states, plus Washington DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands — that award will be given each year for the next five years, for a total of almost $180 million.

"The goals of the program are to connect children, youths, and families to appropriate services and supports; improve conditions for learning and behavioral outcomes for school-aged youths; and increase awareness of and the ability to respond to mental-health issues among school-aged youths," the department said.

A similar grant of $7.3 million per year will go to 12 states, which adds up to a commitment of more than $36 million.

The department made two other one-time grants. One is a Project Prevent grant to 22 schools in 14 states that will help provide "school-based counseling services, or referrals to community-based counseling services for assistance in coping with trauma or anxiety."

The other is a School Emergency Management grant offering $13 million to 25 states to help schools develop "high-quality school emergency operations plans."

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