National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (NCSCB) aims to promote an appreciation of the role that schools can play in supporting students, staff and families at times of crisis and loss. When children face situations such as a natural disaster or the death of a loved one, their learning, behavior and development may be significantly impacted. The importance of schools to be prepared to assist students in the aftermath of these events remains an urgent and growing need. Through collaborations with various organizations and agencies, the center serves as a resource for information, training materials, consultation services and technical assistance.

The center began with initial support from the September 11th Children’s Fund and the National Philanthropic Trust. Current funding from the New York Life Foundation allows the center to provide ongoing and expanded services, including the development of materials to help professionals in school-based settings plan for and respond to various crises, loss and grief.

Sample letter templates

Staff notification

Parent notification

Student notification

The center and New York Life Foundation partnered to establish the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, a collaboration of 10 professional organizations representing the full range of school professionals, whose goal is to create and share a set of industry-endorsed resources to empower school communities across America in the ongoing support of their grieving students. The practitioner-oriented website provides practical, accessible information, handouts and reference materials, including video training modules featuring expert commentary, school professionals who share their observations and advice, and bereaved children and family members who offer their own perspective on living with loss.

NCSCB and the New York Life Foundation have also partnered to produce After a Loved One Dies: How Children Grieve, a booklet that provides practical advice on how parents and other adults can support grieving children. (Spanish, Chinese and Japanese versions are available.)

In collaboration with the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters and the Los Angeles Unified School District, and with partial support from Procter & Gamble, NCSCB has also contributed to the creation of psychological first aid booklets that are part of the Listen, Protect and Connect series.

David J. Schonfeld, professor of practice of social work and pediatrics at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is director of the center. If you are dealing with a current crisis event and seek immediate advice, contact the center at 877.536.2722 or

Professional Advisory Board,
National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

Thomas Demaria, PhD
Director of the Psychological Services Center and Trauma Response Team of the doctoral psychology program at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.

Richard Gilman, PhD
Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. His research focuses on risk and resiliency factors in youth.

Vincent B. Giordano, MS
A partner with Denizen Consulting who works with schools on student support services policy development. Former executive director of the New York City Department of Education's Division of Student Support Services, where he was responsible for citywide initiatives addressing student discipline, physical and mental health and crisis management pre- and post-9/11.

Burton E. McGillivray
President of Cloquet Capital Partners, a boutique investment firm. A 30-year venture capital investor with specialties in communications software, strategic planning and leveraged deal structuring.

Daniel Nelson, MD
Associate professor of psychiatry and director of the child and adolescent psychiatric units at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Recognized authority in counseling children and families who have experienced trauma, whether related to a disaster or act of terrorism, or from interpersonal violence or abuse.

Scott Newgass, MSW
Educational consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education, where he oversees initiatives addressing mental health and discipline. As an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University, he teaches coursework related to social work in educational settings.

Dominick T. Nigro, MS
A partner with Denizen Consulting who works with schools on crisis preparedness and student support service policy development. Former director of the Office of Student Services for the Staten Island Public Schools, New York City Department of Education, where he directed crisis intervention initiatives pre- and post-9/11.

MaryEllen Salamone, PT, JD
President/director of Families of September 11, Inc. Dedicated advocate for family and children’s issues related to crisis events.

Marleen Wong, LCSW, PhD
Associate dean and clinical professor at the USC School of Social Work. Previous director of mental health Services, crisis suicide prevention and counseling and intervention services for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Past advisory board members
Barbara W. Boat, PhD
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center and Director of the Childhood Trust at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Trena Goodwin, RN, MSN
Ms. Goodwin specialized in School Mental Health Consultation and Disaster Mental Health and served as the Director of Prevention and Education Division at the Central Psychiatric Clinic and the Chairperson of the Division of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing for the Department of Psychiatry in the University Cincinnati.

Robin Gurwitch, PhD
Since the bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995, she has contributed to our understanding of the impact of trauma and disaster on children and ways to increase resilience.

Chris Park
Immediate past President of the New York Life Foundation. In that role, she dramatically grew the Foundation’s programs in childhood bereavement and helped to initiate and lead many important initiatives to address the needs of grieving children and to enhance the field of childhood bereavement. She is a member of the National Alliance of Grieving Children and serves on nonprofit boards and advisory committees.

Frank Putnam, MD
Child and adolescent psychiatrist known internationally for his research involving large-scale dissemination of evidence-based trauma treatment and prevention programs in community settings, among other areas. He was director of the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at CCHMC, before relocating to the University of North Carolina.

Sarah Strizzi (former ex-officio Board member)
Formerly with the US Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools where she served for eleven years as a Program Manager for various grant programs and projects related to school safety, emergency management, and drug and violence prevention.

Gregory A. Thomas, MS
Former director of the Program for School Preparedness and planning in the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; co-author of three books on school safety.