Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice in Pima Co.

School & Main Institute was in Tucson, Arizona, May 14-15, 2018 working on Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice. On our first day, we defined Positive Youth Development and a Positive Youth Development Mindset and on the second day we looked at the essential nature of partnership development and collaboration and its role in fostering cross-system work between and across agencies, departmental units and other juvenile justice service professionals. Our goal was to help gain a better understanding of cross-system work, what it looks like, and how to move from polite cooperation to a more fully collaborative way of doing business.



Systems for Student Success Action Planning Initiative

Our 2nd Cross District Meeting on April 6, 2018 in Boylston, MA
At this meeting, we heard about district progress and “absolute must do’s” for the last three months of this school year. Districts shared strategies for leading and managing this work and identified what teams need to do to finish strong this year. We also heard Pat Spradley, Chief, Parent and Family Engagement of the Springfield Public Schools talk about: Leading 4R System Changes: The Parent & Family Engagement Journey in Springfield.



Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Conference

The Annie E. Casey Foundation held its largest juvenile justice gathering to date in April 2017 when it hosted more than 900 policymakers and practitioners in Orlando, Florida, for the 23rd Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Inter-Site Conference.

School & Main Institute in partnership with Wheelock College’s Willie Rodriguez presented on the unique “Reimagining Juvenile Justice” pilot training we have developed for the Annie e Casey Foundation.  This workforce development model for professional in the field,  utilizes a “positive youth development mindset, with a cross systems approach”.  In addition to our presentation Willie Rodriguez received the Annie E. Casey Foundation's prestigious Natalie S. Bimel Award for his efforts to build a just and equitable youth justice system. The Natalie S. Bimel Award is one of four that the Casey Foundation bestowed in 2017 to results-driven and strategic reformers whose steadfast dedication to detention reform has improved the lives of youth. 

The three-day conference presented more than 40 workshops covering a range of juvenile justice topics. The conference was meant to inspire attendees to more fully and faithfully implement juvenile justice reform strategies, expand the reform toolbox and be intentional about sustaining the reforms and the collaborative, data-driven approach that has been at the heart of JDAI’s success.



Systems for Student Success

School & Main Institute, Inc. is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and 9 Massachusetts districts: Fall River, Framingham, Holyoke, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Salem, Somerville and Springfield to build district and school capacity to systematically address students’ barriers to learning. This Systems for Student Success opportunity is designed to help districts identify and prioritize strategies to systematically address the barriers that impede students’ ability to fully engage in the learning process and succeed in and out of school. These barriers might include: 

  • Lack of a safe and supportive school and classroom climate;
  • Punitive, poor or unfair behavior management and disciplinary practices;
  • Ineffective family-school communication and collaboration;
  • Reactive rather than proactive, student support practices;
  • Ineffective, and potentially even detrimental practices around language and cultural competence;
  • Health and mental health challenges faced by students;
  • Adult capacity to support youth affected by trauma and/or poverty; and
  • Housing, transportation, and other challenges related to basic needs, poverty and economic instability. 

Many districts/schools are engaged in efforts to dramatically increase student achievement focus on strong instructional interventions and structures (data teams, common planning time, new assessment strategies, supplemental academic supports, etc.). While these represent critical pieces of the school improvement puzzle, they do not automatically lead to improved academic performance. For the past 5+ years School & Main Institute and the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have been working together to find strategies and solutions that allow districts to address these challenges successfully. The Systems for Student Success grant will leverage MA Turnaround Practices and Wraparound Zone research and enable districts to assess where their most significant barriers to learning exist, identify systems and strategies to address them, and develop an action plan to effectively implement those systems and strategies.


Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice: A Positive Youth Development Mindset—A Cross Systems Approach

On November 10th, twenty students participating in the RIJJ pilot met at Wheelock College in Boston for a final session to reflect on their experience in the course and discuss the impact it has had on both personal and professional practice. Agency leadership from the MA Department of Youth Services, MA Probation, the Youth Advocacy Division and Bridge Over Troubled Waters were in attendance to learn firsthand about their staff’s experience. Students shared examples of making shifts in personal perceptions regarding the roles and responsibilities of agencies engaged in supporting  juvenile justice youth, gaining a new appreciation for the importance of working more effectively with families, exploring strategies that work with system involved youth and maybe most importantly, about the positive effect of strengthening relationships and communication between and across systems.

Each participating agency cohort detailed specific recommendations for changing policies/protocols and adapting professional practices that will foster the sharing of resources and imbed positive youth development concepts and cross-system collaboration into daily agency life.

In a Nutshell

Founded in 1985 at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, School & Main Institute (SMI) has grown into a nationally recognized, independent non-profit training and partnership development organization that has worked with organizations and state agencies in more than 35 states.


School & Main Institute staff and faculty have years of expertise as organizational leaders, program developers, trainers, and facilitators in the fields of education, workforce preparation, youth and community development.

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