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Mental health resources added to schools after Marshall Fire

A nonprofit has raised $600,000 to put four mental health advocates in schools to help students deal with the trauma of displacement

BOULDER, Colo. — Students who lost everything to the Marshall Fire have been able to use schools as a refuge, which have been a source of stability after the natural disaster. With the academic school year over, school leaders and others within the education system have remained concerned over how isolation will affect students impacted by the trauma of the past six months. 

In response, local nonprofit Impact on Education has fundraised $600,000 to create four mental health advocate positions within schools that are home to students displaced by the Marshall Fire. 

The funding will allow the positions to be in place for at least 18 months during the academic school year. It will also allow for two mental health advocates to begin work over the summer months to begin the critical role of checking in with students while they aren't in the classroom. 

"In the wake of the Marshall Fire, it was clear that our community needed us in a huge way," said Allision Billings, executive director of Impact on Education. "My hope for our community and really for kids everywhere is that somehow this trauma upon trauma upon trauma that we have experienced these last couple of years build us into more resilient people and more resilient humans." 

RELATED: Boulder schools deploy trauma response teams to counsel kids after Marshall Fire

The funding that made it possible came from multiple community partners: Community Foundation Boulder County, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, AT&T, UnitedHealthcare, Google, Bender West Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Ilse Nathan Foundation, and the City of Boulder Housing and Human Services Department. 

"My hope is that we are there for every kid that needs us, that by providing these additional resources that we are able to help our kids, help our families, as they cope with their new reality," said Boulder Valley School District Superintendent Rob Anderson, who says the past year has been difficult amidst the pandemic, Marshall Fire and the King Soopers shooting. 

The Mental Health Advocates working over the summer already have lists of students they’ve been working with, but if you know of a student in need of support, parents or guardians can fill out the BVSD Crisis Form.

An additional $200,000 of remaining funds will be provided for professional development and other supports within the district. 

RELATED: Colorado wildfires continue to trigger PTSD, but there are ways to cope

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