Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice: shaping how we do community

Restorative Justice is grounded in the ancient idea that having people get a real sense of how they are connected and belong, addressing their needs, and building their skills can be more powerful and effective in creating a healthy and safe community than relying on fear of punishment and retribution could ever be.

School-based Restorative Justice
Alternatives has been a leader in shaping restorative justice in schools since 1996, when our youth designed the first restorative peer jury in Chicago Public Schools. Since then, we have trained more than 10,000 CPS students and teachers in restorative justice and our programs have been shown to successfully reduce the use of harsh discipline methods that disproportionately impact youth of color.

Community Based Restorative Justice
Our staff are available to provide consultation to your organization, either to build a more restorative culture or to help navigate a crisis situation. There is a fee for these services, however we can work within your budget and sometimes have grants funds available to reduce the costs.

Leadership Development
Alternatives’ provides an intensive curriculum to train youth and young adults in using Restorative Justice practices. This training is ideal for individuals who want to learn about conflict transformation, creating healing spaces, and understanding roots of violence. We explore ways to prevent harm to ourselves and our community through relationship-building.

This program, which centers young people who have been marginalized in a variety of ways (i.e. experiences with the criminal justice system, homelessness, etc.), builds on the unique strengths of participants and helps develop skills to reclaim their community. After completion, some participants might be eligible for paid positions as Peace Ambassadors

Alternatives’ Staff and Peace Ambassadors can provide training and coaching to support your organization through the process of using restorative practices to build stronger relationships and foster community resilience.

Crisis Support
If the community of your organization has experienced harm, conflict, or loss, Alternatives’ staff and Peace Ambassadors can lead a set of Peace or Healing Circles to create space to address the situation as a community.

Alternatives offers Restorative Justice coaching sessions to community-based organizations, teachers, schools, parents, guardians, families, and community members. Training topics range from “Staff Wellbeing” to Trauma-Informed Care 101″.

Learn More

  • Our Model and Philosophy
  • What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?
  • Paul Robeson High School Restorative Justice Case Study: Inspiring the Future

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Summer Programming


Chicagobility provides 6 weeks of intensive RJ exposure for youth ages 14-15 who are looking to learn more about RJ practices. Over the course of the summer, participants will be fully immersed in talking circles and community-building activities and work on a community impact project of their choice. Participants will build and strengthen their skills in conflict resolution and experience the power of working in teams.


  • Ages 14-15
  • Completed OSC Application
  • Proof of Residency (State ID, City Key, or Report Card; Must have a Chicago Address)
  • Proof of age (Birth Certificate)
  • A copy of a valid SS card or Individual Taxpayer
  • Identification Number (ITIN)
  • A signed parental consent form

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Restorative Justice Institute

The Restorative Justice (RJ) Summer Institute provides 6 weeks of intensive RJ training for youth ages 16-19 who are looking to apply RJ practices in their own lives and with their communities. Over the course of the summer, youth will lead the spread of restorative culture-shift by building their capacity to lead proactive talking circles and social-emotional learning activities. Participants will build the necessary skills of self-advocacy and foundations to promote healthy relationships and conflict resolution.


  • Ages 16-19
  • Completed OSC Application
  • Proof of Residency (State ID, City Key, or Report Card; Must have a Chicago Address)
  • Proof of age (Birth Certificate)
  • A copy of a valid SS card or Individual Taxpayer
  • A signed parental consent form

Seeking Success

The Seeking Success Summer Institute provides 6 weeks of intensive training that focuses on RJ Practices, Financial Literacy, Workforce readiness, Life skills, Healthy lifestyles, Trauma-informed care/ mental health, and Career/College guidance. This program is for youth ages 16-24 who are looking to apply RJ practices in their own lives and within their communities.


  • Ages 16-24
  • Chicago Resident
  • US Citizenship or Green Card

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Youth Leadership Programming

Just Us

Just Us is grounded in social justice principles and provides a space for middle school youth of color to build community, increase social justice awareness as they discuss history and current events, and support each other in dealing with the challenges they face.

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Girl World

Girl World is a leadership development program for girls, femmes and non-binary/gender expansive youth of color. Program activities support participants as they cultivate self-esteem and self-advocacy, learn the power of teamwork, research, and promote awareness of social justice issues, particularly those affecting them. Through these activities, Girl World participants develop leadership skills, explore their college and career options, and learn about the importance of positive decisions and healthy relationships.

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Full Circle

Full Circle is a restorative justice training series for emerging adults (17-24 years old) that is a prerequisite for becoming a Peace Ambassador. This training is a free professional development training. Our goal is to provide young people with a grounded experience and understanding of Restorative Justice. By the end of this training, participants will have developed skills to identify and assess individual and group needs, using Restorative Justice skill-building practices.

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Peace Ambassadors

The Peace Ambassadors Program is a paid apprenticeship for young adults (17-24 years old) who have faced homelessness or are system involved. Participants learn to become professional Restorative Justice practitioners. This apprenticeship is designed to be the most intensive RJ training available in the city, with over 400 hours of training coupled with weekly real world practice facilitating programming in communities and schools.


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If you'd like to learn more about the fellowship and how to apply, sign up for one of our info sessions!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 4:30 PM

Tuesday, October 24, 2023 4:30 PM