Philadelphia School District Accepts $730,676 Multi-Year Grant to Improve School Climate from the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children

Devereux Center for Effective Schools & International Institute for Restorative Practices to Provide School Climate Initiatives

PHILADELPHIA, PA (6/11/13) – The Philadelphia School District today announced a $730,676 multi-year grant to improve school climate from The Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children.

The funding will be distributed over three years and will be used to improve school climate and safety in a number of Philadelphia public schools.

The grant will be disbursed directly to The Devereux Center for Effective Schools (Devereux) and the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), which will provide training and supportive services to teachers, school personnel, students and parents in 20 district schools throughout the city.

“Students cannot learn and teachers cannot teach in environments where they do not feel safe,” said R. Andrew Swinney, President of The Philadelphia Foundation. “The grant aims to provide a comprehensive long-term approach that will change the culture of schools in which the threat of violence prevents learning and achievement.”

“We are delighted to have this extensive and sustained level of support to address a persistent problem,” said District Superintendent Dr. William Hite. “We have confidence that within three years, there will be a tangible difference in the educational climate of the schools that will benefit from the services.”

Goals for the grant include:

  • Reducing violent incidents
  • Ensuring school climates conducive to learning
  • Reducing suspensions
  • Establishing a school-wide culture of acceptance and respect

In the 2011-2012 school year, the School District reported 4,059 violent incidents; 45,026 suspensions and 64 children who were expelled. The District has six schools that have been identified as Persistently Dangerous Schools.

A negative school climate can lead to a wide array of negative health outcomes, including depression, anxiety and ongoing fear. Students are less likely to attend school if they feel unsafe at school or on their way to or from schools. They also are more likely to go home early on any given day out of fear of being bullied.

The School District has used a variety of approaches to address school climate and safety: “zero tolerance” policies, suspensions, video cameras, metal detectors, security guards, expulsions, disciplinary schools and referrals to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, with varying results.

Schools receiving services under the grant, which begins with the 2013-2014 school year, were selected because they will receive new students as the result of the District school closing plan. The participating schools will be:

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

  • Penrose Elementary School
  • James Rhoads Elementary School
  • Henry C. Lea Elementary School
  • Rudolph Blankenburg Elementary School
  • John F. Hartranft Elementary School
  • Tilden Middle School
  • Tanner Duckery Elementary School
  • Roberto Clemente Middle School
  • Martha Washington Elementary School
  • William McKinley Elementary School

Restorative Practices

  • Ben Franklin High School
  • High School of the Future
  • John Bartram High School
  • Martin Luther King High School
  • Morris E. Leeds Middle School
  • Overbrook High School
  • Robert Morris School
  • Roxborough High School
  • South Philadelphia High School
  • Warren G. Harding Middle School

The approach will be two-fold:

  1. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
    Rather than tackling behavior on an individual basis, this approach provides a continuum of positive behavior support of all students in a school. It addresses areas including the classroom and non-classroom settings, such as hallways, buses and restrooms. PBIS includes proactive strategies to define, teach and support appropriate student behaviors.
  2. Restorative Practices
    IIRP’s SaferSanerSchool Whole-School Change Program builds relationships between students, staff and parents to improve student behavior, reduce violence and bullying and create a sense of community. Rather than just reacting to incidents after they occur, it implements proactive techniques that foster relationships and a sense of belonging.Through a comprehensive two-year program, IIRP will help school leadership and staff develop customized plans including professional learning groups, on-site professional development and follow-up evaluation. Everyone on staff will have a say and a role in implementation, with several staff trained as professional development instructors to ensure program sustainability.

    The school becomes the center of a “restorative zone” that partners with parents, police, faith communities, social services, juvenile probation and other agencies to foster a restorative environment throughout the neighborhood.

    Benchmarks of these initiatives will be evaluated semi-annually and will be tied to the next disbursement from The Philadelphia Foundation.  The School District’s Office of Student Support Services will be accountable for the monitoring of the initiatives and for ensuring that the schools and providers are working together to improve school climate.

    “Dr. Hite, the School District of Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Foundation are showing tremendous vision in their commitment to restorative practices,” says Dr. John Bailie, IIRP Assistant Professor and Director of Continuing Education. “This initiative puts them in the forefront of what we see as the future in improving school climate.”

About the Philadelphia Foundation

Since 1918, The Philadelphia Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. As a public charity community foundation, it manages more than 800 charitable funds, maximizing the strategic impact of charitable contributions. It invests and administers these funds and awards the distributions – about $20 million a year to nearly 1,000 area organizations – as grants and scholarships. For more information, please visit

About the Fund for Children

The Fund for Children was established in 2001 at The Philadelphia Foundation through contributions by the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia Phillies when they built their new stadiums. Each team is contributing $1 million per year for 30 years, with grants being awarded to programs that serve the needs of children in Philadelphia and that build the capacity of youth-serving organizations to engage youth in decision-making.

About the Devereux Center for Effective Schools

The Devereux Center for Effective Schools (CES) is a nationally recognized not-for-profit research and development organization that helps operationalize Devereux’s commitment to prevention and public education. The CES assists schools in building the capacity to serve children with, or at-risk for developing, emotional and behavioral disorders through research, training and technical assistance. The focus of the work of the CES is on establishing multi-tiered (universal, secondary, tertiary) systems of prevention and intervention to improve behavioral and academic supports at the district, school, classroom, and individual student levels. For more information, visit

About the International Institute for Restorative Practices

The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) is an accredited master’s degree granting graduate school based in Bethlehem, Pa., and a worldwide provider of restorative practices training, with affiliates and licensees in 16 countries. As a national leader in improving school safety, the IIRP has a proven track record in some of the most challenging schools. For more information, visit