MSUM continues legacy of serving high-need schools

When the Moorhead Normal School was founded in 1887, its sole purpose was to prepare teachers for rural Minnesota schools—one of our region’s greatest social and economic needs at that time. In fact, graduates who agreed to teach for two years in rural Minnesota received free tuition in return for their commitment.

A lot has changed in the ensuing years, including our name (four times!). But one thing that’s stayed the same has been our commitment to meeting our region’s greatest needs. In fact, one of MSUM’s strategic priorities is being indispensable to the social, cultural, and economic advancement of Moorhead and its surrounding communities.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Schools will enable MSUM to meet a pressing need facing today’s schools: providing equitable and culturally informed mental health services to students. Over the next five years, the $6.7 million grant will help MSUM increase mental health services to pre-K-12 students in high-needs schools in Fargo-Moorhead, surrounding rural communities, and tribal communities throughout Minnesota and North Dakota; expand the number of School Psychology and School Counseling field placements in schools where mental health services are most needed; increase the diversity of mental health providers serving our schools; provide high-impact, equity-informed strategies for meeting student mental health and social-emotional needs; and train mental health professionals in culturally responsive mental health services for children and youth.

Titled Project Infuse, the partnership will be led by faculty in MSUM’s School Psychology and Counseling graduate programs. And, just as we did in our early years, MSUM will provide scholarships to offset tuition for graduate students who serve high-need schools in our region. It’s a project completely consistent with our original mission and I think our founders would be proud.

Dr. Anne Blackhurst served as Minnesota State University Moorhead’s 11th president from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2023.

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