Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $993,276)
DCIU seeks to capitalize on the compelling research that restorative justice frameworks can significantly and positively impact outcomes for students. The work performed under this grant to provide three-years of implementation support to 20 middle schools in Delaware County, PA seeks to address local data indicating concerning trends in low connection to school, lack of involvement in prosocial activities, and well-being. Through providing intensive support to school leaders and staff, this grant addresses research that restorative school goals often fail in the implementation stage, not in the desire or will to create safer, more inclusive environments for students. Standalone initiatives do not effectively or systemically change school climate. The grant design will integrate research-based practices and leverage the overlaps, principles, and foundations of restorative practices, social and emotional learning, and school climate initiatives. This application addresses fidelity of implementation by school leadership teams. Rather than simply train on pre-implementation planning, this grant will fund three full years of personalized, on-site implementation support for each school. This grant will enable DCIU to train school leaders and their teams to: (1) Prioritize social and emotional learning to increase resilience, build relational trust, and bridge opportunity gaps through development of a restorative school climate framework. (2) Create a multi-year plan for full school implementation of restorative practices that includes strong social and emotional learning components to increase student participation and relationship building with adults. (3) Implement decision making models that incorporate culturally responsive principles to analyze current student discipline data and identify equity gaps. (4) Establish policies and practices to reduce conflict and violence through restorative practices, trauma awareness, and an asset-based model for behavioral development.
Sustainability is addressed through the development of site-based trainers to increase internal capacity and plan for sustainability beyond the grant years. It is important that this grant leverage the project results to inspire additional buy-in and interest in a sustained commitment to Restorative Practices throughout the county. The data and training model can continue beyond middle grades through high school to expand beyond the three-year grant window. Our aim is to ensure that restorative school communities develop both policies and internal practices to increase engagement, resilience, protective factors, and promote dialogue and peaceful outcomes.
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