Restorative Practices


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

The district 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.

The Barton Institute is supporting this restorative practices cohort through:

  • Adding three additional schools to the cohort, bringing the total to fourteen 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 is 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.

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline in Denver Public Schools

The Partnership Explained


The Denver Public Schools is proud to be viewed as a national leader in restorative practices thanks to the efforts of a unique partnership between the District and its union, local and national non-profits and the philanthropic community.


Restorative Justice Partnership (RJP)

A coalition between labor, education, racial justice, and community organizations 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, including:

  • RP Visitation Program: Come see RP in action at one of three demonstration sites, talking to the different stakeholders in a building. Sign up at

  • Implementation Guide: A step by step guide to school-wide implementation of restorative practices.

  • Additional Tools: National webinars, one page tools, observation tools etc., all available at

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 supported by DPS, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the Advancement Project, and the National Education Association.  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.

District Wide Implementation Timeline


Partnership with the Barton Institute for Philanthropic and Social Enterprise

The Barton institute is working closely with DPS to bring restorative practices to scale in the district. In the 2018-19 school year Barton’s support will go to add additional RP staff; to complete a benchmarking project that will create a baseline for all schools; and to offer scholarships to DPS staff to attend the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice conference in Denver Jun 14 - 16, 2019.


7th National Association of Community and Restorative Justice  Conference

Denver, CO | June 14-16, 2019

Restorative Practices in Action



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