Program launched by McConaughey’s after Uvalde helps school districts identify, apply for federal money

Greenlights Grants Initiative will simplify how schools apply for grants in the bipartisan Safer Communities Act

A way to help, born out of tragedy.

Following the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

When it was signed into law in June 2022, over $2 billion was set aside to bolster school safety.

“Specifically designed to help support school districts in meeting the mental health needs of students and building their resiliency in terms of school safety,” said Sasha Pudelski, the director of advocacy for AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

Pudelski is partnering with the Greenlights Grant Initiative to help bridge the gap between the federal money available and the school districts that need it.

“It’s meant to empower school districts and ensure that they can get notified when these grants are out there, that they get support,” Pudelski said.

Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, who were deeply touched by the tragedy, started the initiative.

McConaughey and Camila write on the website homepage, “The parents in Uvalde asked us to do one thing, make their lives matter. We hope this can help do just that.”

GOP Congressman Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde, is on the advisory council.

“Essentially, every parent and every teacher, any one grandparent can go and figure out what their school district can apply for and help part or be part of the solution,” Gonzales said.

How it typically works is that it can take up to 100 hours and thousands of dollars for school districts to hire a grant writer and apply for a federal grant. At times, that’s to no avail.

The Greenlights Grant Initiative eliminates that, making it easier to look up grants available and cutting down on the application process.

“School safety isn’t real until we bring these federal dollars into our school districts,” Gonzales said.

Currently, Gonzales and Pudelski are working to make school districts aware of the help they’re offering so that when federal grants open in the new year, the money available can be used most effectively.

“We’re hoping that in the spring we see a flood of applications from districts that have never even attempted to get this money before, as well as districts that maybe have but haven’t been successful with our help,” Pudelski said.

Pudelski explained if money set aside for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act isn’t wholly utilized, it can be reallocated to other places, and not as much will be set aside for school safety in the future.

About the Author:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.