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State Grant Funds New Social Worker

Columbia Heights Public Schools has been selected for a six-year grant that will fund a new, full-time social worker position at Columbia Academy. The grant, totaling $224,397, is supported by the Minnesota State Legislature, approved by the Executive Branch and funded by the Minnesota Department of Education. The District will match the state funds dollar-for-dollar the first four years of the grant and three dollars for every state dollar for the fifth and sixth years of the grant.        

The State of Minnesota will invest a total of $12 million through the grant for additional student support staff, including counselors, psychologists, social workers, chemical dependency counselors and nurses in 77 schools statewide.

“School counselors and other support staff help guide Minnesota students throughout their academic careers,” said Gov. Mark Dayton “Expanding access to this critical guidance will leave our students better prepared for college and careers.”                                                     

“With the needs of middle school students, having a new school social worker position means more students and families will receive more and better services,” said Columbia Heights Director of Student Services Nicole Halabi. “Through support and services from school social workers, students can focus on becoming college- and career-ready.”

School social workers provide one-on-one counseling services to students, and additional support to students and families, as needed, in mental health, social and emotional development, crisis intervention, group treatment, child neglect and abuse identification and reporting. Halabi also added that school social workers support families in finding outside services and resources so they can meet their needs while still supporting their child’s educational process. With the addition of the new social worker, Columbia Academy will have two social workers to provide support to the more than 700 students currently enrolled.

For more information on the student support grant, contact Student Services Director Nicole Halabi at 763-528-4429 or