Fostering Youth Peacemakers

Fostering Youth Peacemakers

Bully-Proofing Schools by Building Empathy

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Last Update: August 20, 2014

For 14 years, SS has created empathy-based learning environments that eliminate bullying at the roots. Our results go deeper than offering good curricula- we help students, teachers and parents EXPERIENCE empathy, then walk them through real problems to transform how they interact on a daily basis.

Founded: 2001 Type: hybrid

The Problem

Bullying is the problem. How schools handle it is a bigger problem. Schools know the power of positive discipline but still rely on shame, punishment and separation to curb bullying. Why? They don’t have the tools and training to create an empathy-based learning environment, where kids can safely learn to regulate emotions. It’s not enough to teach SHOULDS, set a new standard or say no – if we haven’t experienced empathy, we can’t recreate it.

The Solution

To really end bullying, we need to provide an experience of empathy, and tools, trainings and reminders that show us HOW to take care of underlying feelings and needs that contribute to bullying. SS provides a WHOLE-SCHOOL (staff/parents/kids) approach addressing causes as well as behaviors, with specific tools to help us slow down, articulate feelings and needs, and try again. Our schools learn HOW to make positive behavior theory a daily practice. Our on-site trainers engage people in a shared experience, normalizing feelings and making it safe to be real and share in a healthy way. We leave tools in hands AND hearts, on the walls, and literally painted on the playground to remind kids to stop bullying and solve problems at their roots.

Example

Our programs bring happier kids, higher test scores, and fewer suspensions. A Martinez principal used SS to unite her divided staff with our empathy-based discipline tools. Students used our Clean Up tool to slow down, address problems by identifying feelings and needs and change behaviors accordingly, planning for next time. Teachers tracked the new behaviors and adjusted them as needed. As a result, their API scores rose a whopping 48 points and suspensions were halved. We’ve had parents call us to say our Peace Path saved their marriages, and kids transform abusive family situations and avoid gang membership. A South Bay principal said “other programs give good content, but we come to Soul Shoppe to learn how to truly implement it.”

Impact

Of near 1000 schools/250,000 kids served, schools consistently report fewer referrals/suspensions/absences, higher test scores, more calm/focus, better student rapport and dramatic decreases in bullying. A recent research project polling 300 school staff in 20 schools showed: 98% say our programs provide useful skills/address relevant problems. 93% say we positively impact how students think of themselves. 91% say we positively impact how they treat each other. 90% of teachers review/use our tools in their classrooms and 92% say we play an important role in their school. We have 100s of stories where kids recognize and stop bullying, change abusive family dynamics, handle long-standing recess/classroom issues. One teacher said “Students are given tools to problem solve on their own. Many of them aren’t modeled these skills at home and I see them make huge strides after each workshop.”

Full Impact Potential

We want our change-making programs to bully-proof schools and communities across California, the nation, and eventually the globe. Our expansion plan includes: •Training more facilitators to accommodate scaling •Conducting a comprehensive research study showing our impact and putting us on the “state-approved” list of programs •Expanding online trainings to bring our content more affordably and accessibly to parents and teachers •Completing development of our social-emotional learning app and our accredited teacher training •Continuing international expansion beyond Holland and Canada.

Budget: $500,000 - $1 million

Financial Sources

Individuals, Businesses, Clients

Sustainability Plan

The business has lasted 14 years through 2 recessions. The core business is self-sustaining with a simple model of $1,000 per program day with a realistic capacity of approximately 120 days per facilitator. So this core business is flexible - capable of scaling down if necessary or ramping up to meet demand as we reach more schools. More resources move us across the nation and onto a digital platform which helps us scale up and expand our reach.

Marketplace

No Bully, Girl Power and Playworks have good but narrowly focused programs that miss critical whole-school training, making lasting change less likely. Steps to Respect and Second Step provide curriculum that teachers have to implement (on top of all else) with little/no training, so effectiveness varies greatly. Project Cornerstone, according to one of our principals, provides good data but she comes to SS for the “how to.” SS programs are engaging and experiential (=better retention). Our facilitators connect deeply with kids, modeling empathy and giving it language so kids can embody it.

Founding Story

Co-founder Vicki Abadesco was a Program Supervisor at SF Peer Resources for SF Unified and a crisis intervention specialist (conflict resolution/violence prevention) teaching high school students to be peer advocates. Co-founder Joseph Savage was a seasoned elementary teacher who hated seeing social-emotional programs cut and teachers losing time to develop kids socially. They both realized that reaching kids in High School was too late, and that creating a foundation of empathy and self-esteem in elementary might just end the big problems before they start. From that, Soul Shoppe was born, capturing the essence of their previous work and giving kids helpful tools they need to navigate successfully through life from Kindergarten.

Team Explanation

Our full-time staff have over 80 yrs combined experience with Youth Dev, Curriculum Dev, Empathy and Leadership Training. Our 9 person team is 2 co-founders running Bus. Dev, Programs and Training; 3 full-time staff: Ofc Mgr; Sales/Program Mgmt; Development/Program Mgmt; 2 part-time Facilitators; a part-time Project Mgr; a part-time Finance Director. Our Finance Director has over 20 years of managing finances for organizations and corporations.

August 20th, 2014

Mt. Diablo Unified School District, with 35 elementary schools, decided that our Peacemaking conflict resolution process is so powerful that they want a script for all of their teachers!  Last week, they ordered 500 peace keys to remind teachers to help students walk through the empathy-building peace process. 

July 10th, 2014

Soul Shoppe served 3000 students this summer through the Junior Giants program, sponsored and run by the San Francisco Giants. Our facilitators taught 8 separate community trainings about how to "Strike Out Bullying," and ran the character portion of Jr. Giants Summer Camp at Camp in Concord, CA in Tahoe, CA.  Through this program we touched thousands of lives, and facilitated several critical conversations for families whose children had been contemplating suicide or violence. Program Directors said our programs were the best they've seen. 

July 10th, 2014

 Working with medical technology giant MedHelp, Soul Shoppe begins the process of making an app to help kids and adults manage their feelings of frustration and anger in more positve and productive ways.

July 10th, 2014

Soul Shoppe has partnered with an individual donor and the East Bay Community Foundation to receive an individual grant of $15,000 per year for 3 years to help us fund our expansion.  Thank you! 

July 10th, 2014

Before the school year has even started, we are well on our way to exceeding program days booked for last school year. Schools are eager for our programs, current schools are taking more programs, and new schools are signing on every day.  We are close to serving 100,000 students this calendar year. 

Challenges

Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change

Supplemental Information

On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):

San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, Other.

How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

Soul Shoppe introduces a common language to the whole school, helping students become activists and adults to support them effectively. Beyond providing skills, we bring an experience that allows people to see from another’s perspective, so they care and feel motivated to use what they learn. An example is our “Be An Ally” assembly where students talk about how it feels to need an ally, and practice what to say and do to safely intervene when they see bullying and other hurtful behavior. Our “Peacemaker Program” trains 30 students to become allies and help peers resolve problems on the playground after assemblies are over. Our adult trainings give social emotional how-to’s to help teachers model safe boundaries and train new behaviors.

Needs/Offers

Need

We always need incredible, youthful, mindful facilitators! People of color strongly encouraged.

Offer

We can offer dynamic facilitator training, heart-opening facilitation for big company meetings, corporate empathy trainings!

Tell us about your partnerships

Current Clients: Over 100 Bay Area Schools/70,000 kids; SF Giants Jr. Giants Summer League. Educational Partners (credibility, reach, message): Alameda Co. Ofc of Ed (cohost annual Bullying Prevention Conf); Ca Inst of Integral Studies (co-developing adult Continuing Education Programs). Professional Partners (financial, tech & social network support): MedHelp (co-developing social/emot awareness app), 6x Project (finance), BB Coaching (mktg).

Challenges

Reaching more markets is our biggest challenge. We know how to activate empathy in school children when we are physically at an assembly. Reaching beyond that market to parents and adults, as well as remote national and international schools is the challenge. To increase our reach we need additional resources to:
• Digitize and sell what we have learned
• Formalize research on our efficacy
• Implement a University accredited teacher training program
• Roll out a Franchise model
• Complete a series of children’s books
• Hire and train more facilitators

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, building leadership skills, group play, storytelling, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, instilling courage, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

6-12.

Growth Tracker

Stage: Milestone 1 of 3
Start
06/05/14
End
Impact Report
Soul Shoppe Through the Eyes of Those We Impact
Date 07/10/14

The report below shows how powerful our programs are, and how schools thrive after introducing our programs.  From Spokane to Burlingame to Toledo, we're making schools more empathetic, happier, and safer.  “I would say that the time our school spent with Soul Shoppe was life changing.  I could see a light go on in the faces of students and teachers.  Our kids still bring up learning they acquired from the assemblies.  Wow!  They also wrote and contacted our local newspaper to share what Soul Shoppe brought to our school.”

Impact Report
Soul Shoppe Contracts 450 days!
Date 07/10/14

Before the school year has even started, we are well on our way to exceeding program days booked for last school year. Schools are eager for our programs, current schools are taking more programs, and new schools are signing on every day.  We are close to serving 100,000 students this calendar year. 

Impact Report
Soul Shoppe Receives Individual Donation of $15k/year for 3 years
Date 07/10/14

Soul Shoppe has partnered with an individual donor and the East Bay Community Foundation to receive an individual grant of $15,000 per year for 3 years to help us fund our expansion.  Thank you! 

Impact Report
Soul Shoppe initiates App
Date 07/10/14

 

Working with medical technology giant MedHelp, Soul Shoppe begins the process of making an app to help kids and adults manage their feelings of frustration and anger in more positve and productive ways.

Impact Report
Soul Shoppe Completes Junior Giants Camp and Trainings, Changing Lives and Striking Out Bullying
Date 07/10/14

Soul Shoppe served 3000 students this summer through the Junior Giants program, sponsored and run by the San Francisco Giants. Our facilitators taught 8 separate community trainings about how to "Strike Out Bullying," and ran the character portion of Jr. Giants Summer Camp at Camp in Concord, CA in Tahoe, CA.  Through this program we touched thousands of lives, and facilitated several critical conversations for families whose children had been contemplating suicide or violence. Program Directors said our programs were the best they've seen. 

Impact Report
Mt. Diablo School District orders Peace Keys for all teachers!
Date 08/20/14

Mt. Diablo Unified School District, with 35 elementary schools, decided that our Peacemaking conflict resolution process is so powerful that they want a script for all of their teachers!  Last week, they ordered 500 peace keys to remind teachers to help students walk through the empathy-building peace process. 

Milestone
800 program days
Target Completion Date 08/05/15
In Progress
Collate current presentations into comprehensive accessible learning modules with powerful video/visual accompaniment
In Progress
Expand Facilitator Training Program
In Progress
1st Book title published reinforcing program day messages
In Progress
1st app in the App store reinforcing program day messages
In Progress
Peer reviewed article in major research publication demonstrating efficacy
Milestone
2,500 Program days - in person and remote
Target Completion Date 08/22/16
In Progress
Collaborate with accredited university to create CEU based courses
In Progress
Soul Shoppe facilitators in 10 metropolitan areas
In Progress
50 Licensed Soul Shoppe trainers
In Progress
All Soul Shoppe teachings on-line
In Progress
9 Children's Book titles - complete character trait series
Milestone
15 Nations teach Soul Shoppe programs
Target Completion Date 08/19/19
In Progress
1,000 Licensed Soul Shoppe trainers
In Progress
9 Children's Book titles translated in multiple languages
In Progress
10 Univeristy Programs teaching Soul Shoppe methodology
Milestone 1
800 program days

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