School News

Elena Quintana, Ph.D., Executive Director, Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Grants $500,000 for Chicago Schools Initiative; IPSSJ to Evaluate Impact

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced that Alternatives and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) will receive $500,000 over 30 months to support the Safe Schools Consortium, a new partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union to build school-level teacher collaboration and system-level structural reforms to transform school discipline and culture in Chicago.

The Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology has been named to evaluate program outcomes.  Led by IPSSJ Executive Director Elena Quintana, Ph.D.—a clinical/community psychologist with longtime experience in alternative justice approaches and program evaluation—the IPSSJ will document the impact of disciplinary alternatives to student exclusion that VOYCE and Alternatives will develop and implement in partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

Restorative justice practices are expected to be a significant focus of the project. As part of its work, the IPSSJ leads applied research and work with local communities, schools and government agencies to adopt restorative justice approaches in lieu of failed traditional approaches to conflict, crime and punishment.

“Effectively interrupting the cradle-to-prison pipeline in Chicago is a great challenge; it is critical that we properly evaluate our efforts to replace police rooms with peace rooms in our city’s high schools,” Quintana said. “The Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice is proud to be involved in evaluating this effort in hopes to learn more about effective ways to keep more kids in school and out of jail.”

VOYCE and Alternatives will work with instructional experts at the CTU Quest Center to develop school-level teacher leadership and collaboration to transform school discipline policies and practices at three targeted Chicago high schools.  VOYCE also will focus on building student leadership to advance structural reforms throughout Chicago Public Schools that support these practices' long-term success throughout the district.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided the grant through Forward Promise, its $9.5 million initiative launched in in 2012 to address the fact that boys and young men of color:

  • Are more likely to grow up in poverty;
  • Live in unsafe neighborhoods;
  • Attend schools that lack the basic resources and supports that kids need in order to thrive;
  • Take actions that might be treated as youthful indiscretions by other young men but that often are judged more severely and result in harsher punishments that have lasting consequences.

According to VOYCE research, 29 youth are arrested on school property in Chicago every day, compared to five arrests per day in New York City schools. Of the youth arrested, 73 percent are male and 96 percent are black or Latino.

The Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) at the Adler School of Professional Psychology works with community groups, peer institutions, and systems partners to address public safety challenges with socially just solutions. By forging creative collaborations, IPSSJ develops and advocates for empirically sound methods to create environments where social justice and more lasting, meaningful community well-being can prevail.

About the Adler School

The Adler School of Professional Psychology has provided quality education through a scholar/practitioner model for 60 years. The School’s mission is to train socially responsible graduates who continue the visionary work of Alfred Adler throughout the world. The Adler School offers graduate-level programs enrolling more than 1,000 students at its campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, British Columbia, and through Adler Online.


Kim McCullough
Director of Communications
(312) 662-4124 or via email