New program aimed at boosting kids' grades starts today in Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - A pilot project being launched in 23 Michigan high schools that aims to boost academic achievement by incorporating physical, emotional and social health programs, state education officials said.

The effort that's part of the Safe and Supportive Schools program and dubbed "think.respect." is funded through a $24 million federal grant and will be administered by the Michigan Department of Education. Schools were selected based partly on persistently low achievement.

The program is built on the idea that blending academics with programs that teach and promote healthy lifestyles, anti-bullying techniques and other areas will improve students' overall learning. The three-year grant allows schools to tailor the program to their needs.

"Schools need every tool at their disposal to deliver a high quality education to students across Michigan," state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release. "In these 23 high schools, we're approaching the learning process in a different way, since for many students in our schools, academics are only one part of the educational process."

The project is scheduled to launch Monday and Tuesday with events in Detroit, Flint and Wyoming near Grand Rapids. The program includes schools in and around those cities, as well as in Ypsilanti, Saginaw, Lansing, Benton Harbor, and Osceola, Van Buren and Cass counties.

Officials say the schools will be able to measure their progress to ensure that students are receiving the full benefit of the grant money.

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