Resilient Schools Project Set to Begin – Creating Spaces for All Children to Flourish

Group of Elementary Pupils In Classroom Answering QuestionStarr Commonwealth has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $500,000 from the Midland-based Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation to fund the Resilient Schools Project, a collaborative effort that will parallel the Albion-Marshall Resilient Communities Project, which is also being led by Starr Commonwealth. The Resilient Schools Project will initially be piloted in Harrington Elementary in Albion, Michigan, and will then expand to all Marshall Public Schools in the coming months and years to support the entire district.

“Since 1913, Starr Commonwealth has been dedicated to the mission of creating positive environments where children and families flourish,” says Elizabeth Carey, President and CEO of Starr Commonwealth. Beginning a few decades ago, Starr diversified its programming to expand beyond residential services. “We are no longer simply a residential program for traumatized or troubled youth, something that local residents may still think. What we have learned over the past hundred years, and particularly in the past few decades, is that all children benefit from hope, love and a positive environment, something that Albion and Marshall are full of.”

According to Carey, the key objectives for the two-year pilot of the Resilient Schools Project are:

  1. to provide teachers and child professionals with training and support for school-wide implementation of techniques that create a positive environment where every child flourishes;
  2. to create equitable classrooms that improve academic performance and promote emotional support of all students to reduce out-of-classroom instruction time;
  3. to develop a sharable and adaptable model to carry these techniques and trainings across the entire school district and beyond.

“Marshall Public Schools is dedicated to engaging all students, being child-centered and continuing on our pathway to be effective for every child,” said Dr. Randy Davis, MPS superintendent. “We have already begun this work, district-wide, and are thrilled to have partners like Starr Commonwealth to expand our efforts and go even deeper.”

In addition to the partnership between Starr Commonwealth and Marshall Public Schools, Albion College will also contribute to the Resilient Schools Project through its own resources and programming. Albion College sponsors an 11-member AmeriCorps VISTA team and will provide a designated AmeriCorps member for full-time capacity building support to Starr Commonwealth and the Resilient Schools Project over the next two years. “This partnership is just one aspect of a long-standing relationship with the Albion community, youth-centered programming and the public schools,” says Andrew French, Albion College’s Director of Community Action and supervisor for the AmeriCorps VISTA program in Albion. “We couldn’t think of a more tangible way to help than to provide the dedicated passion and talent of our VISTA members.”

Starr Commonwealth is internationally recognized as a leader in transformational programs for children, families, schools and communities and continues to promote as its founder did over 100 years ago that “every child has greatness.” Through the Starr Global Learning Network, Starr Commonwealth reaches 20,000 child-focused professionals every year by providing training, tools and resources to create environments where children and families flourish.

“As I travel the country and work with schools, teachers and administrators, I know the difference that believing in the greatness of every child makes in a classroom. In addition, I know that when professionals have additional evidence-based resources, tools, and information, they create the culture for children to flourish. Our Resilient Communities Project and our Youth Symposiums with the youth of Albion and Marshall have been wonderful, and we are excited to expand our work into and around an entire school and an entire district,” says Derek Allen, Director of Starr’s Global Learning Network.

If you would like more information about this project, please contact Derek Allen at 517-629-5591 or email at

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