Home > Foundation News > Building Resilience in Seminole County

In a proactive effort to bolster the mental health and well-being of Seminole County’s youth, The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools has partnered with the Peace and Justice Institute to embark on an initiative generously funded by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) and the Florida Department of Education. The $435,085 award received in September, 2023marks a significant step forward in addressing the growing concerns surrounding youth mental health, the effects of trauma, and the lasting impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding the Need

Recent studies indicate that over 65% of children have experienced at least one traumatic event such as abuse, neglect, familial incarceration, or homelessness. These adversities can profoundly impact a child’s ability to learn and thrive in educational settings. Recognizing this challenge, the Foundation’s “Seminole Resilient Community Project” aimed to infuse schools with resiliency resources.

The  Seminole Resilient Community Project in Action

Through this project, over forty-five workshops were held for teachers, parents, caregivers, and community members. These workshops, facilitated by the Peace and Justice Institute, covered a wide variety of topics aimed at building stronger relationships and enhancing resiliency within our schools. In addition to these workshops, there were five Youth Summits held at our middle schools so the students could learn valuable leadership and communication skills that will help them in life. More than 1,100 participants, including students, parents, and school staff were directly impacted by this program.

Jean Vansmith, Executive Director of the Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, expressed gratitude for the funding, highlighting its role in strengthening the community’s mental well-being. “I’m thankful we received funding to be able to build resiliency skills and address the mental well-being of Seminole County students, staff, and parents. This project will make our community stronger.”

Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with parents praising the workshops for equipping them with practical tools to support their children. One parent of an eighth-grader noted, “This workshop allows us to have better conversations with the teens and gives tools we can actually use.”

The initiative aimed to create a safer, more nurturing environment that promotes student well-being and academic success. Through collaboration, education, and resilience-building, Seminole County is paving the way for a brighter future for its youth. A special thank you to CFEF and The Florida Department of Education for making this possible through their donation! Additionally, thank you to the mental health experts and community connectors who came together to create and implement this project in the way that would provide the most impact to students, staff, and parents in Seminole County. This team includes FSCPS staff, the School District Student Support Services team, Conundrum Consulting, and the Peace & Justice Institute.

Watch the video below to hear firsthand how this project impacted our community.