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Almost $2 million in grant money to be used for Elkhart, Warsaw school counseling

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A major influx of cash for local schools: Elkhart is getting $1.2-million and Warsaw is getting $700,000.

This money will be used for school counseling. This is all thanks to a massive grant from the Lilly Endowment.

The money will help 30 schools in the state strengthen school counseling programs.

The schools will use the money to launch a variety of programs, including helping students with social and emotional challenges and implementing models to help students better prepare for college and careers.

In Elkhart the $1.2-million will be focused on secondary career and college readiness programs.

The district uses a program called Navience, which allows students to learn about their personality and skills to develop career interests.

The money will be used to invest in the program and train counselors and support staff.

"Part of the approach in this grant is to help counselors work smarter, using data to help them understand better ways to approach their jobs and spreading to the classroom where teachers can help in advising studies in career and college readiness programs," said Bill Kovach, director of secondary instruction in Elkhart.

In Warsaw, they are taking a different approach with the money. Through strategic planning the district found they needed more emphasis on the social and emotional wellness of students.

They will be introducing empathy-based curriculum, training teachers and staff, even bus drivers, and partnering with the community.

WSBT 22 spoke with the superintendent and the district's socioemotional wellness team.

"If students are not well coming into our classrooms, they aren't going to be able to learn to their fullest," said Dr. David Hoffert, Warsaw Community Schools superintendent. "A lot of our students are bringing a lot of baggage into the classroom every single day and we need to figure out some different coping strategies."

Schools in LaPorte and Marshall counties also received grants. Two schools in St. Joseph County got money as well.

There is another round of grants, so schools have another opportunity to apply through March.

The money will last for four years, so districts are also working to find a way to sustain these programs after the money is gone.

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