On February 29, the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) and the Department of Education hosted a briefing with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) on gun violence prevention and the importance of mental health support for victims of gun violence. The briefing was led by OGVP Deputy Director Gregory Jackson and Jessica Gall, Special Assistant for the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education.

Students across the country are reeling from the epidemic of gun violence, which has taken the lives of their family members, friends and classmates. That’s why President Biden and the entire Biden-Harris Administration are focused on providing resources and support for those affected by the trauma of gun violence. The President’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which is the most significant gun safety legislation in the last 30 years, set forth crucial mental health investments to ensure that those experiencing grief and trauma resulting from gun violence have access to high-quality mental health services, and supports to make our schools safer and expand community violence interventions.

During the mental health briefing, OGVP uplifted two recent grant announcements from the Department of Education which provide funding to increase school based mental health services.

Specifically, the School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program provides grants to state and local educational institutions to increase the number of credentialed mental health services providers for students in need, while the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program provides competitive grants to support the training of school-based mental health service providers.

Thanks to BSCA, the Department of Education has awarded more than $280 million in funding to bolster the pipeline of mental health professionals serving in schools and expand school-based mental health services and supports. These critical investments have funded the hiring or training of an additional 14,000 school based mental health professionals—a 35% increase nationwide.

These efforts are part of the President’s whole-of-government approach to prevent crime, promote public safety, and end the epidemic of gun violence tearing apart communities nationwide. Last month, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice, also announced new executive actions to help promote safe storage of firearms that implement President Biden’s Executive Order on promoting safe gun storage, which has been shown to dramatically reduce children’s risk of self-inflicted harm and unintentional shootings.

The President’s American Rescue Plan also helped states and over one thousand cities, towns, and counties across the country to invest over $15 billion in public safety and violence prevention.  Communities have invested those funds to support additional police officers, expand community violence intervention, add crisis responders, and more. And in addition to key investments for schools to expand mental health services and violence intervention programs, BSCA provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives. 

We are already seeing the positive impacts of the President’s strategy to prevent and reduce crime and gun violence nationwide. Cities around the country are experiencing historic declines in violent crime, and homicides are estimated to be down nationally 12% from 2022 to 2023. By comparison, during the final year of the prior administration in 2020, the United States saw the largest increase in murders ever recorded. We have also seen key provisions created by the BCSA begin to deliver results in making communities safer against gun violence, including enhanced background check provisions that have enabled the Department of Justice to stop more than 600 illegal gun purchases by prohibited persons under 21 years old, and the first ever federal gun trafficking and straw purchasing law.

The President knows more can and must be done, which is why OGVP, overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris, continues to identify executive orders to save lives, while also announcing new initiatives to encourage action at the state and local level. This past December, the Vice President convened 100 state legislators at the White House to launch the Biden-Harris Administration’s Safer States Initiative, providing states with additional tools and the support they need to reduce gun violence—and we have already seen states begin to answer the call and implement these critical measures. And earlier this week, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, OGVP and the Department of Labor DOL, hosted a roundtable on improving job opportunities for communities affected by gun violence and to discuss the connection between workforce development and violence intervention and prevention.

These are just a few examples of the progress that is being made under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris to protect our communities, schools and children, and end the epidemic of gun violence that is leaving empty seats at dinner tables across the country. 


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