On Thursday, October 15, Brooklyn Community Foundation announced four $10,000 grants to organizations that will work on disciplinary reform in public schools beginning this fall.
The initiative is called the Brooklyn Restorative Justice Project led by Brooklyn Community Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and Mayor de Blasio’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline.
The project’s objective is to create a sustainable and racially just model for school-based disciplinary reform with the ultimate goal of scaling a final model across the city’s entire school system. In the program, four expert restorative justice providers have been chosen to launch full-time, in-school programs in four middle or high schools in Brooklyn to begin implementing comprehensive school-wide alternatives to punitive disciplinary methods this month.
The partnering organizations and schools are:
- New York Peace Institute and the Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies in Coney Island.
- Good Shepherd Services (GSS) and the School for Democracy and Leadership in East Flatbush.
- Partnership with Children and Ebbets Field Middle School in Crown Heights.
- Sweet River Consulting and Science Skills Center High School in Downtown Brooklyn.
Each program is receiving $100,000 for this first year. The Foundation has committed four years of funding for the Project through Invest in Youth.
The four organizations will train and support full-time Restorative Justice Coordinators in each school, who will then develop a school-wide strategic plan in collaboration with school leadership. Coordinators will oversee all program components, including community-building restorative circles, conflict response, student reentry, positive school climate, and school-wide learning groups on restorative practices.
Schools and partner organizations will then evaluate their efforts based on improvements in school culture and student self-esteem, and a reduction in conflict, violent infractions, suspensions and arrests. All participating schools and organizations will collaborate to share lessons learned and best practices, as well as develop benchmarks and evaluation tools.
“We want to create a new model for school discipline that imparts value and agency to all students, and we are proud to have such esteemed and accomplished partners join this effort,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Suspensions and in-school arrests are often young people’s first brush with the criminal justice system. But shouldn’t our schools should be safe and supportive environments for all students, so that they can learn and thrive? That’s what they’re there for.”
For more information on the Brooklyn Restorative Justice Project, visit http://www.brooklyncommunityfoundation.org/youth-justice.