EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Region One Education Service Center a $5.9 million grant focused on increasing school counseling capacity in mental health, social and emotional learning.

Region One’s news release said the five-year grant will also help build a strong talent pool of licensed professional counselors and licensed social workers. 

Called the Region One Building Mental Health Leaders Project, the grant is intended to impact over 53,100 students across the seven school systems identified including over 9,300 educators on 91 campuses.

“Through this grant and the support of USDE and our higher education partners, we can ensure our school communities have the necessary trained mental health personnel available to fit their needs,” said Dr. Daniel P. King, Region One ESC Executive Director.

With the goal of increasing the number of mental health professionals by 20% annually, Region One will partner with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Texas A&M International University to offer practicum opportunities, internships, fieldwork, credit hours and/or any other related training applicable for a degree or credential to recruit and onboard school-based mental health providers. 

A celebratory grant announcement is scheduled at Region One ESC on Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. to officially acknowledge the partnerships and work that will occur within the next five years. 

The U.S. Department of Education funded grant will serve the following seven Region One school systems: Donna ISD, Hidalgo ISD, Lyford CISD, La Joya ISD, Brooks County ISD, Rio Grande City CISD and Webb CISD.