Atlanta, GA, and San Francisco, CA – November 23, 2015 –WestEd, Atlanta Public Schools (APS), and Georgia State University today announced receipt of a nearly $7.5 million National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant to support the research and development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive school safety initiative.

The three organizations will partner over five years to create safe and supportive learning environments for children and staff at APS campuses.

Affirming that the safety of students and school personnel is a goal that requires the support and participation of the greater community, the partnership will rely on significant local and state agency engagement to develop and implement a holistic approach focused on the whole child.

The project will be led by Senior Research Associate Joseph McCrary, based in WestEd’s Atlanta office.

“It is gratifying to have this opportunity to work with a willing partner like Atlanta Public Schools. We will rigorously examine the challenges they face and assist them in evaluating interventions so that they can achieve their mission of comprehensive school safety,” says  McCrary.

One of the purposes of the grant program is to identify solutions to help other school districts provide safer and more supportive learning environments for their students. The research team of WestEd and Georgia State University will rigorously evaluate and then disseminate that knowledge nationwide.

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NIJ Grantees at November 23 press conference

“This dynamic partnership is an unprecedented approach to improving the safety of our students and employees across our schools,” says Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen. “The research, the data, and tools that we will yield from this grant will address a variety of safety measures from student behavior improvements, emergency preparedness, school policing, community engagement, and much more.”

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APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen at November 23 press conference

“We’re excited to work with WestEd on developing an evaluation plan and set of benchmarks here in Atlanta that can help promote the success of school safety initiatives across the country,” says Georgia State Psychology Professor Christopher Henrich.

Work on the initiative will begin in early January 2016 and continue through 2021.

For information about the project, please contact Joseph McCrary at or at 470-225-4955.

About WestEd
WestEd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. WestEd has more than a dozen offices nationwide, from Massachusetts, Vermont, and Georgia, to Illinois, Arizona, and California, with headquarters in San Francisco. More information about WestEd is available at

About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 98 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit

About Georgia State University
Georgia State University, an enterprising urban public research university, is a national leader in graduating students from widely diverse backgrounds. Centered in the historic financial hub of downtown Atlanta, the university provides more than 32,000 students with unsurpassed connections to the city’s business, government, nonprofit and cultural organizations. Georgia State University ranks among the nation’s top 108 public and private universities in the Carnegie Foundation’s elite category of Research Universities/Very High Research Activity. This category represents the highest level of research activity for doctorate-granting universities in the U.S.