WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Three Jefferson County schools will share $2,000 in grant funding from the Daniel J. Briggs Fund for Integrity of the Northern New York Community Foundation.

The fund was established in 2015 at the Community Foundation to help provide resources for educational programs that focus on bullying prevention and character education in local schools and communities.

The fund also supports professional development initiatives to educate school administrators, teachers, faculty and staff of school districts in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Programs may focus on, but are not limited to, leadership, student responsibility, respect and trust for the community.

Alexandria Central School District and Watertown City School District’s North Elementary and Starbuck Elementary schools will use the funding to build respect and leadership, help prevent bullying and promote positive student behavior.

Daniel J. Briggs was a student at Thousand Islands High School when he died in March 2014, two months prior to his 17th birthday. Since his death, Briggs’ family has worked to foster change in local schools and help combat bullying.

A committee comprised of his family members, school leaders and local citizens recently recommended grants for the three local schools.

Alexandria Central School District will receive $1,000 to help bring speaker Rich John to the school to present his program “Act with Respect Always” to students in grades three through seven. John is a retired Saratoga Springs School District teacher with 38 years of elementary and middle school classroom experience. His presentation aims to build respect and leadership, teach positive and constructive behavior and help stop bullying before it starts.

North Elementary School will receive $600 to help teachers and faculty distribute “STAR” cards to students to promote positive behavior. Students earn the cards by following school and classroom rules. When a student’s card is filled, they earn a reward. The grant funding will support the purchase of additional student awards and help with costs associated with year-end gathering.

Starbuck Elementary School will receive $400 to help a school counselor establish a reference library of character education books for teachers to read in their classes. Book themes focus on empathy, kindness, inclusion, diversity, differences and anti-bullying. Approximately 30 books will be purchased and the initiative will complement the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program and Positivity Project.

“We are honored to award these grants in Daniel’s memory to school programs that take proactive approaches and promote positive behavior in a variety of ways,” Daniel’s mother, Amy Briggs, said. “It is incredibly vital that we educate our youth about the importance of being kind to one another and to appreciate our differences. Through the programs supported by the Daniel Briggs Fund for Integrity, our son’s legacy will be one of change.”

Since 2018, eight grants totaling nearly $5,000 have been awarded to school-based programs designed to create campus-wide awareness campaigns, build student confidence and engagement and increase student experiences in music.

“It is inspiring to see area schools educate and empower their students on the importance of demonstrating good character,” said Max DelSignore, Community Foundation assistant director. “Daniel’s fund will continue to be a catalyst for these meaningful activities and help celebrate the growth of local students on campus and in the community.”

Applications for 2024 funding through the Daniel J. Briggs Fund for Integrity will open in September with proposals due on October 20. Up to $1,000 will be made available. Grant awards will be determined in December and are expected to be announced in January.

To learn more about this grant opportunity, contact Max DelSignore at 315-782-7110 or max@nnycf.org.