EDMOND — The Edmond Public School District will use a $50,000 grant to implement an anti-bullying campaign and fight against teen suicide.
The grant was donated last month by an employee-funded foundation at Cox Communications, and will be used for Rachel's Challenge, a series of empowerment programs for students, said Jason Brown, the district's executive director of secondary education.
The district wants to combat youth bullying and despair with a culture of compassion, Brown said. Three Edmond students committed suicide in January.
“We were looking to solve that problem as much as possible, to give our students some kind of hope and some kind of positive message of resiliency,” he said.
The program is named for Rachel Scott, one of 12 students killed at Columbine High School during a mass shooting in 1999.
The presentations are given by members of her family and other speakers using footage of the shooting and its aftermath combined with Scott's drawings and writings. The program includes the development of school clubs to sustain its goals long-term.
Brown said other districts that have adopted the program have reported success. The Edmond district will incorporate the program into all its schools, elementary through high school, he said
“It's going to work best at the high school level even though it has been fabulous at the middle school, and honestly has a lot of elements that work at the elementary level as well,” Brown said.
Tiffani Bruton, spokeswoman for Cox, said the employee foundation was started in 2005 and typically spends $1,000 to $10,000 annually on local schools.
Edmond was chosen from 170 applicants, she said.
“It came down to a lot of discussion in what was the best, and Rachel's Challenge, in terms of impact — we are going to have the ability, through this program, to save lives,” she said.