$3.9M awarded to St. Scholastica to help meet region’s mental health needs

This marks the largest single grant ever given to the college
The College of St. Scholastica
The College of St. Scholastica(Northern News Now)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 1:57 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program at The College of St. Scholastica has been awarded a $3.9 million grant to address mental health needs across the region.

The project is 100% federally funded with a total award of $3,979,000. It is the largest single grant The College of St. Scholastica has ever received.

St. Scholastica will partner with and expand services to five high-need school districts throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, including Superior School District, Duluth Public School District, Paul Bunyan Cooperative, Northern Lights Cooperative, and Duluth Public Schools Academy.

Through the project, occupational therapists will work as mental health service providers and influence change in existing systems, serving the region’s mental health needs and furthering the mission and vision of The College of St. Scholastica.

Over the five-year grant period, 105 MSOT/Fellowship students will serve a projected 5,250 students.

Dr. Shelly Smart will lead the grant as Project Director and Dr. Kaisa Syväoja as Co-Project Director. They will prepare students to meet the region’s mental health needs, characterized by rural isolation, poverty, poor behavioral health outcomes, and mental health provider shortages.

According to the Department of Education, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on young people’s mental health, impacting their functional skills, participation in school occupations, and sense of social connection within the school environment.

“We are thrilled to have received this Department of Education award,” said St. Scholastica President Barbara McDonald. “It is the largest single grant The College of St. Scholastica has ever received. We are so proud of the Occupational Therapy faculty and staff, as well as our grants office, who made this funding possible for our students. We look forward to realizing the positive impact the grant outcomes will have on the intersection of occupational therapy and student mental health needs on our Twin Ports community.”