Council in Schools: Building Council Cultures and Spaces at 6 LA Schools

submission by marcrosner

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

The Ojai Foundation's Council in Schools

Organization(s) website(s):

Organization(s) twitter handle(s):


Organization(s) facebook handle(s):

Please share the direct link for voters to sign up for your newsletter(s):

Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):


Council in Schools is a fiscally-sponsored program of The Ojai Foundation

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Council in Schools brings council -- the practice of listening and speaking from the heart -- into schools.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


We are Council in Schools. "Council" is a circle form of dialogue that builds trust, understanding, and awareness, and that fosters engaged, compassionate school communities. We propose to work with teachers, staff, students, and families at six Los Angeles public schools (see below) to implement council and "restorative practices" programs and to collaborate on the design and construction of a dedicated council space at one of those schools.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County:

Gardner St. Elem. School, LAUSD, Hollywood; Valor High School, Panorama City; Valor Middle School, North Hills; Rise Kohyang Middle School, Koreatown; Stella Middle School, South LA; Bright Star Secondary High School, South LA

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics? (check all that apply)

Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs

Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years

Youth unemployment and underemployment

District-wide graduation rates

HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math

Academic Performance Index* scores

College matriculation rates

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)

Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)

Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.


Learning is a relational process. Research shows relationship affects every aspect of students’ mental and physical health and academic achievement. Studies document the impact on absenteeism, self-esteem, bullying, aggression, violence, sexual harassment, substance abuse, psychological well-being, rates of suspension and expulsion, motivation to learn, academic achievement, graduation rates…and more. “A Review of School Climate Research,” Thapa, et al. (2013) Review of Educational Research.
Many students feel alienated, disengaged, fear, and mistrust at school. Underachievement, drop-out, bullying, violence, and burnout are the byproducts. Perhaps ironically, the explosion of electronic communication, social networking, and virtual connectedness often exacerbates the lack of real connection so many feel.
It doesn't have to be this way. The processes that shape relationships in schools are essential. Council is a structured process of communication that helps participants connect with themselves and others and that provides space for emotional, social, and moral development alongside the mental and physical. It is an instructional strategy to explore themes and topics from the academic curriculum and make the academic relevant to students’ lives. It is an inclusive process that promotes an environment of trust and respect. It is a mindfulness practice that helps students become more aware of themselves and others and more adept at managing emotions and behavior. It is a leadership tool to harvest the collective wisdom of a group and take informed action. It is a community-building tool and the foundation for a “restorative justice” approach to school discipline.
Holding a council involves a few basic elements, the main ones being sitting in a circle – where all are equal and everyone can see and be seen; using a talking piece – to focus attention and shift habitual ways of listening and speaking; and practicing the intention to listen and speak “from the heart.” Simple as the process is, it's power to connect transforms schools and lives.
Last year we started council and restorative practices programs with the 6 schools that are part of this proposal. The impact was profound and the schools all committed to making these practices core parts of their school cultures. We want to provide two more years of training and mentoring, at which point the schools will be able to sustain their council and restorative practices programs with minimal support.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


We will use a combination of quantitive metrics and qualitative surveys to evaluate our work, including: attendance/truancy rates; suspension and expulsion rates; disciplinary referral rates; bullying complaint rates; rates of disciplinary incidents resolved through "restorative practices"; standardized test scores; grade point average; students' perceived senses of safety, belonging, and fairness at school; students' reported level of engagement in school; and staffs' perceived senses of effectiveness, purpose, and solidarity at school.
In addition, we want to collaborate on devising better metrics that more meaningful reflect the short and long-term impact of our work.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

7 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

No question about this...students are hungry, teachers are hungry, administrators are hungry. Here's to doing all we can to keep this simple yet profound opportunity to be together in schools in order to give and receive from each other from the heart.
Chris Elder

by christineelder
5 months ago

Council in Schools will make a lasting substantial contribution to the entire community and beyond

by lbarnard12
5 months ago

May council continue to spread throughout the district.

by patpaddles
5 months ago

Great work!

by dmartinbssca
6 months ago

Great work!

by dmartinbssca
6 months ago

Great work!

by dmartinbssca
6 months ago

Council creates connection. Period. A safe continuous and nurturing relationship that can bridge differences between and among us and heal broken hearts and minds one classroom at a time. No kidding. No joke. I would go to bat anytime anywhere to sing the praises and share 'the pudding' that is the power of the council practice. We are faced with a community of broken families, schools, and spirits. Council provides a human-made container in which to share our unique stories but to discover that we are connected deeply because our stories unite us.

by Benzmama777
6 months ago

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Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015