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Flower City School No. 54 Receives New York Life Foundation Grant To Support Grieving Students

School No. 54
(February 24, 2021) Flower City School No. 54 has been designated a “Grief-Sensitive School” by the New York Life Foundation, receiving a $500 grant to help create a bereavement support plan and encourage ongoing staff development as part of the national Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative. Flower City School’s music teacher, Zachary Arenz, will develop a music enrichment program for students who are experiencing grief. With the grant money, and in collaboration with Bernunzio Uptown Music store in Rochester, Mr. Arenz is able to provide 11 ukulele packs for students. Students will start a music meetup circle, learn fundamentals of playing ukulele, and engage in a safe and supportive social-emotional environment.
Schools confront issues of grief and loss every day: 1 in 15 US children* will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18. Studies show that unresolved grief can have a social and emotional impact on children, leading to behavioral issues and poor performance in school. Yet educators often feel under-prepared to help, with the vast majority of teachers reporting they have not received any bereavement training.
Through the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative (“GSSI”) – a pioneering effort to better equip schools to care for the grieving students in their midst – trained New York Life ambassadors connect with educators in their local communities to raise awareness and understanding of grief’s prevalence and impact among school-age children.
The program is an extension of the work of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, a collaboration among leading K-12 professional organizations, to develop and deliver best-in-class grief support resources to educators. The New York Life Foundation founded the Coalition in 2013, in partnership with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, as part of its commitment to improving schools’ ability to reach their grieving students.
After hosting a presentation on grief support resources, Flower City School has agreed to strive to be a grief-sensitive school, and received a $500 grant which will be used to help deliver support to students and their families.
About the New York Life Foundation
Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided nearly $280 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative programs. To learn more, please visit
About Flower City School No. 54
Flower City School No. 54 is a part of the Rochester City School District; where students blossom to their fullest potential, expanding their horizons as they discover the skills necessary for a lifetime of learning. Participating in the GSSI is another step in the school’s journey toward employing restorative practices in all aspects of students’ academic and social-emotional learning, ensuring a diverse system of supports are available. Flower City School is further shifting its culture and climate toward understanding that only when all stakeholders’ needs are met, the school and its community will thrive. The school is led by Principal LaShara Evans and Assistant Principal Jody Durick. You can follow our school on social media @rcsdsch54.
About Bernunzio Uptown Music
A friend of the Rochester community and school district, Bernunzio Uptown Music has supplied our community and the world with new, vintage, and used stringed instruments of all shapes, sizes, and varieties since 1975. Also a world-class music venue, Bernunzio Uptown Music hosts several concerts monthly, including an annual Jazz Festival concert series, and is an official venue for the Rochester Fringe Festival. Bernunzio Uptown Music carries a full-line of musical accessories, ranging from strings to valve oil and is willing to go above and beyond to help the school and community attain instruments to support lifelong learners and creators of music.