A New Vision for Brooklyn Schools: Creating a Model for Restorative Justice

June 22, 2015

Four Brooklyn middle and high schools will implement pioneering restorative justice practices next school year thanks to an exciting new pilot program led by Brooklyn Community Foundation.

In a first for the Foundation, the program will work in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and Mayor de Blasio’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline.

» Read the official announcement 

We have committed four years of funding for the project in order to develop a model for school-based disciplinary reform that can be scaled across the entire New York City school system.

This is a priority program under Invest in Youth, our new cornerstone initiative to improve opportunities and outcomes for vulnerable youth in Brooklyn.

The restorative justice pilot will rollout this September in Science Skills Center High School in Downtown Brooklyn, Ebbets Field Middle School in Crown Heights, the School for Democracy and Leadership in East Flatbush, and the Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies in Coney Island. 

Each school will partner with community-based nonprofits that are experts in restorative justice, youth services, and/or conflict mediation and will provide full-time restorative justice coordinators. 

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a philosophy and practice that empowers all those affected by a harmful incident to decide collectively how to repair the harm, restore trust, and build a sense of community that recognizes the dignity and humanity of everyone involved. 

In schools across the country, restorative justice programs have been highly successful at reducing suspensions, arrests, and incidents of violence. 

A Focus on Disparities     

The pilot program will focus on reforming disciplinary approaches that disproportionately and unfairly impact young people of color and students with special needs.

In New York City schools, black and Hispanic youth account for 70% of students, yet represent over 90% of all suspensions. Students with special needs make up 12% of the student population, yet receive a third of all suspensions—in some Brooklyn schools, they account for upwards of 90% of suspensions.

The pilot program’s effectiveness and impact will be measured by indicators that include reduced disciplinary incidents, improved attendance, and higher rates of grade passing and/or credit accumulation.

Made Possible by Our Donors

We are excited to announce that the Foundation has established a Youth Justice Funders Collaborative to support this effort. Members of the collaborative will also form a learning community to inform future philanthropic investments in restorative justice and other citical initiatives around youth justice. 

The Foundation would also like to extend a special thanks to longtime friend and former Board member Claire Silberman and ALLINBKLYN for their generous donations to support the program.


Your Support Matters

You can support this groundbreaking restorative justice initiative
with a donation to our Community Fund

To learn more about joining our
Youth Justice Funders Collaborative,
contact a member of our Donor Services team today:

Sarah Shannon, Director of Philanthropy and Donor Services
SShannon@bcfny.org or 718-480-7504

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