U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Stop the Violence

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $422,006)

Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) will serve 89 middle and high schools through a train-the-trainer model, leveraging a cadre of 26 central-office staff who will cross-train one another in research-based strategies such as Aggression Replacement Training (Goldstein & Glick, 2010), Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), Restorative Practice Circles and 6 Steps to Peace. The Lead Psychologist for MSCS’s Threat Assessment Team will participate in cross-training design to ensure that all training is aligned with the District’s processes for threat assessment, which have continued to evolve through the pandemic. The trained central-office staff will then train up to 445 school-based staff who will help facilitate Project R.E.S.T.O.R.E. (Reimaging Emotions Safely through Restorative Engagement) as an after-school activity in all MSCS middle and high schools. Up to 2,670 students will be recruited as R.E.S.T.O.R.E. Ambassadors based on their identified informal leadership abilities as well as their risk for juvenile justice involvement, and a low adult-to-student (1:10) will be maintained throughout all R.E.S.T.O.R.E. activities. The R.E.S.T.O.R.E. Ambassadors will learn to run Restorative Practice Circles for their school community and will gain exposure to a wide array of SEL strategies. Participant-level and school-level outcomes will be tracked to facilitate planning for sustainability of project successes. Justification for the Change The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the district’s ability to implement the project as planned and altered district needs in multiple ways. All MSCS students attended school remotely from March 2020 through February 2021. Beginning March 2021, some students elected to continue remote instruction while others began attending school in-person. Throughout this period, professional development activities imagined in the original application could not be executed. In the 2021-22 school year, MSCS resumed in-person instruction for all students, except those enrolled in the district’s now expanded virtual school for Grades 4-12. Many afterschool activities of MSCS’s middle and high schools remain virtual, and MSCS is still in the rebuild phase regarding afterschool programming. In addition, through ESSER funding, many of MSCS’s psychologist staff of its Mental Health Center have gained online professional development experience related to threat assessment and have adapted pre-pandemic processes to reflect emerging needs of MSCS and its students. Simultaneously, in the two years of the pandemic, crimes such as homicide and carjackings have skyrocketed in Memphis, with many of these crimes involving youth. In October 2021, a student in an MSCS K-8 school shot a fellow student inside a school building during the school day. This incident has resulted in community-level demand for new resources at all grade levels and has led to a new safety and security assessment that is still in process. Thus, the scope of the project has been expanded to include middle schools as well as high schools.

Date Created: September 29, 2018