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School Climate Transformation

Every school day, Gandhi Institute staff work with students and teachers in conflict resolution spaces, through workshops, after school programs, presentations and hands on projects to create healthier, more loving school climates for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Our work draws from nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Practices and stands in contrast to punitive models. We seeks to disable the school to prison pipeline, reduce the need for policing and security in schools, and create opportunities for conflicts to contribute to learning, moral development and empathy for all.

Help Zone Support

The Gandhi Institute partnered with James Monroe Middle & High Schools, Anna Murray-Douglass Academy No. 12, Enrico Fermi No. 17, and Dr. Charles T. Lundsford STEM Academy No. 19 schools in initiating and staffing “Help Zone” rooms for the 2017-2018 academic school year. We are currently partners in staffing Help Zone spaces at James Monroe Middle & High Schools, School 17, and School 19.

Help Zones are designed to reduce the achievement gap through key initiatives to minimize loss of instructional time and to provide effective social-emotional support.

The Help Zones are designed to triage the needs of students who may request the following support: handling a conflict or personal issue, seeing an adult in the building, classroom material and/or personal hygiene items, etc. This model helps create a supportive environment for both students and staff.

2017-2018 Data

Direct Student Service Data Overview
Total estimated individual student visits: 5,997
Total estimated students served in direct service programming: 338
Number of school partnerships: 4


Social Justice Classes for Middle School Students

Our Help Zone staffing and Social Justice classes at Enrico Fermi No. 17 grew out of Kingian Nonviolence trainings students and staff attended with our partner, Jonathan Lewis. Additionally, we led daily nonviolence education programming at Northwest College Preparatory School with the majority of 7-8 grade students from 2014-2017.

Our curriculum has been crafted by Gandhi Institute nonviolence educators and incorporates many different nonviolence philosophies and techniques: mindfulness and meditation, Nonviolent Communication, Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence, Civil Rights Movement history, Gandhi’s history and philosophy, and ideas from the Alternatives to Violence Project workshops.

We cover topics such as:

  • Understanding violence on the internal, interpersonal, and structural levels
  • Understanding nonviolence as both a philosophy and practice
  • Transforming a negative situation into a positive one
  • Preventing and responding to bullying
  • Creating healthy habits around self awareness, anger, and stress management.

We enhance this materially by drawing on icebreakers and games from The Yellow Book of Games and Energizers (Jayaraja and Tielemans, 2011), the Alternatives to Violence Project manuals (, and Teen Empowerment’s book Moving Beyond Icebreakers (Pollack and Fusoni, 2014).