We are  very excited about the impact we’ll be able to have in schools this year, thanks to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation! PLC was recently awarded a $35,000 Impact Fund grant to implement two restorative practices as effective alternatives to suspensions and expulsions at IPS elementary schools in the city’s high crime areas. 
With their support, we will train peer mediators utilizing Peers Making Peace, a nationally recognized evidence-based program, and implement restorative justice circles at our One Indy elementary school partners.
All PLC programs teach conflict resolution, communication, and healthy relationship skills (i.e. Social-Emotional Learning skills) to students, but this approach is different because it will combine our preventative programming with two other restorative practices that will impact overall school culture. 
1. Peers Making Peace peer mediators help resolve conflicts between students before they become rule violations (e.g. a student is upset that another student didn’t invite him/her to play a game at recess).
2. Restorative justice circles involve a student who violated a rule, other parties who were impacted by this rule violation (e.g. a classroom teacher, school administrative, and parents), people who can help provide resources to ensure the student has support to not violate rules in the future (e.g. social workers, etc.), a trained circle keeper (a PLC facilitator), and, when appropriate, the student’s peers. 
The goal of the restorative justice circle process is to provide a safe space for the people harmed and the person responsible for the harm to promote dialogue, repair the harm done through accountability, and build a stronger sense of community. Our goal is to help schools utilize this process instead of suspensions and expulsions.  
The U.S. Department of Education reports, “…being suspended even once in 9th grade is associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of dropping out.” Restorative practices have been proven to improve school environments and enhance learning by reducing disruptive behaviors and the need for exclusionary discipline which decreases classroom learning time for many students who need it the most. 
All of this is well aligned with our mission and what we’ve always done, but it takes our work to the next level to ensure we are able to have a bigger impact for the schools and communities we serve. It just makes sense.We look forward to sharing stories about the success of our restorative practices work with you in the future! 

Interested in learning how restorative practices can make your school an even better place to learn? Contact Kristina Hulvershorn, director of youth programs, at 317-327-7144 or by email at