Restorative Practices


The Barton Institute is investing in the expansion of restorative practices in Denver Public Schools.

The Barton institute is working closely with DPS to bring restorative practices to scale in the district.

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

District Wide Implementation Timeline

The Denver Public Schools have been working for the past 15 years to make Restorative Practices part of every schools culture throughout the district. The Districts efforts took a big leap forward in 2017, when they received a grant from the Colorado Department of Education to create a learning cohort of schools working together to deepen their practice of restorative justice.


“In DPS, we know that restorative practices work to help students thrive in our classrooms. The generosity of the Campbell Foundation has helped us provide training on trauma-informed practices, including Restorative Practices, so that all of our educators can work effectively with their students. This will help us break the school to prison pipeline and create greater equity for the students of Denver.”

- Susana Cordova, DPS Superintendent

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Barton Institute and Denver Public Schools Working Together


Denver Public Schools is proud to be a national leader in restorative practices thanks to the cross-sector collaboration happening between the District and its union, local and national non-profits and the philanthropic community.


Restorative Justice Partnership (RJP)

This partnership came together in 2014 and is a coalition between labor, education, racial justice, and community organizations formed to implement high-quality restorative practices in Denver and to use those local successes as a model for districts across the country. The RJP has created resources that support the sharing of best practices in DPS.

Expelled and At-Risk Student Supports Grant (EARSS)

For the fifteen schools participating in the EARSS cohort, we have seen:

  • A 64% decrease in overall out-of-school suspensions

  • A 77% decrease in out-of-school suspensions for black students

  • A 79% decrease in out-of-school suspensions for students with disabilities


The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) funded the Denver Public Schools to develop a formal strategy to strengthen the implementation of restorative practices (RP) and establish a structure that facilitates stronger expansion to new schools. They worked to  capitalize on the success of RP currently in place  and further expand them to be an RP district. Using a cohort learning model, schools met monthly for differentiated professional development grounded in the Implementation Guide and related tools developed by the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership.  Meetings were differentiated based on schools’ needs and generally involved opportunities for schools to learn from each other’s areas of expertise related to RP.

The Barton Institute supported this restorative practices cohort through:

  • Adding three additional schools to the cohort, bringing the total to fifteen schools – including elementary, middle, and high schools from low-income communities throughout Metro Denver

  • Increasing resources going towards evaluation of the cohorts work

  • Making Technology and Innovation small grants available to cohort schools.

The goal of this initiative was to slow the school-to-prison pipeline by building strong relationships between students and educators in order to reduce suspensions and expulsions by keeping kids in school and improving academic growth over time. The CDE grant and the cohorts work was completed in 2018.


Restorative Practices in Action



Youtube Videos