The Department of Boston Public Schools has launched an initiative to confront trauma faced by students on a daily basis in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The initiative will be administered by Amalio Nieves, assistant superintendent of social emotional learning and wellness, cited as the first such cabinet-level post in a public school district in the nation.   
  
The announcement of the $1.6 million grant— facilitated by the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance or MOVA—was made in a joint press conference this week with Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston School Superintendent Tommy Chang, who said:   

“The MOVA grant is going to launch BPS Cares, which is short for creating awareness of respect, responsibility and resilience to empower students, to establish safe and welcoming School environments and respond to signs and symptoms of trauma in students, families and staff.”                

The grant to BPS is from a pot of money set aside for victims of terrorism in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.  Many in Boston’s structurally impoverished areas argued in the months following that tragedy that everyday violence experienced by the city’s youth can be every bit as stressful as the trauma that affected Marathon survivors; trauma that also needs to be addressed through counseling and other services.  Boston’s chief resilience officer, Atyia Martin, was also present at the press conference.  
 
Said Martin, “For those who don't remember we had a number of shootings after the marathon bombings in our communities and there was a lot of struggle around how do we make sure that all of our residents when trauma happens in our communities have access to resources that help them come through the other side?”
 
Liam Lowney heads the Mass Office for Victim Assistance, which is giving the grant. He lost his own sister though violence: 

"This is definitely an attempt in any way we can to both make sure that we’re addressing the needs of this community that we’re traumatized by those horrible events three years ago, but also to put the infrastructure in place so that we are daily responding to the needs of this community that is regularly traumatized unfortunately in their homes and on the streets.”

The 1.6 million dollars will place trauma specialists in 10 schools, including Jeremiah Burke High, selected because of the high degree of stress from poverty and family instability that students there bring with them into the classroom. 
 
Students like 11th grader Federico Melo, who last year lost his best friend to the streets.  “Angel he got shot down in Egleston. He was like family. Everyone was hurt from it and my school was there for me.  They took me in like I was their kid.”
 
And Nazeem Nelson,  a 17 year old junior:  “I was missing out on a lot of school and my grades weren’t what they’re supposed to be.  And I was getting into things I shouldn’t been getting into.”

Greg Hill, Nelson’s teacher, is a program specialist at Jeremiah Burke.  “I can identify because I was this young man 25 years ago”, he said.   

“Being a graduate of the Jeremiah Burke HS and growing up in this community, experiencing traumas in my life.  My role is to be that older brother, that father, that uncle that they may not have.”  

Greg Hill is among the staff that the Boston Public School grant will help fund.  Trauma units are already in place in health centers in some of Boston's hardest hit communities.  Twenty percent of Boston students had experienced one or more traumatic events in their lifetime,  according to a 2013 Boston Children’s Hospital study cited by Superintendent Chang.

The new school-based initiative is meant to bring trauma-resources to where the kids are; Kids who have experienced violence as traumatic, for many, as scenes of terrorism that invades their television sets.