Learn More About Five Steps to Avoid the School to Prison Pipeline


My favorite part of my summer experience with my Grow Detroit Young Talent job placement was the “Five Steps to Avoid the School to Prison Pipeline” workshop! ~ Dante P. (age 14)

This was the best class I ever took in high school. It actually helped me to make sense of why adults nag us the way they do. It has made me want to work harder at giving my best in school . ~ Kiara S. (age 16)

Why can’t all of our classes be like this? It’s so real and makes me really want to start taking school more seriously and make better choices starting today. ~ Jaylin R. (age 15)

I find myself thinking about the lessons learned and talked about in this workshop everyday now, especially when I find myself in situations like Jaleesa from the stories we read. I can relate to her a lot. It really felt good to know that I’m not alone. ~ Kayla M. (age 17)

Every kid in this school should be given this workshop. There were so many interesting topics discussed….Stuff that happens around here everyday that we see, but just never talk about. ~ Patrick M. (age 17)

I wish my Mom could have been a part of this workshop too cause the Mama in the story reminds me so much of her. She’s a good Mom, but just has a lot of personal issues stopping her from being her best for her kids ~ Shaniya B. (age 12)


This program for urban black and brown youth offers realistic and relatable short stories and practical activities that help kids become more aware of everyday life triggers that can lead them from school to prison. It’s highly recommended for Grades 7-12, as they prepare to enter and complete high school. The curriculum is the perfect complement to other Social Emotional Learning strategies and is best used to encourage students to become more open to accepting and welcoming help of educational and mental health professionals. The curriculum combines several methodologies such as real-life topic discussions, interactive role plays and hands on activities. The Five Steps enhance self-awareness and generates thoughtful discussion with youth on commonly found real life issues seen in high crime impoverished communities.

The curriculum is most appropriate for youth ages 12-17 who journey through real life stories and questions together (with a Facilitator). The stories are based on actual events and are designed to open natural restorative conversations around real life experiences which urban youth and their families may encounter. It is a story of one family’s journey through the 5 Steps as they try to avoid the “school to prison pipeline”. The characters are 15-year-old Jaleesa, 16-year-old Robert, their Mom Latonia and their Dad Robert Sr.

Restorative conversations using the 5 Steps Workbook provides a series of preventive activities where students use real life stories to understand issues from different perspectives. Real life examples are used to help youth and parents conceptualize how their decisions can impact their future.

What are the Five Steps?

  1. Become more involved in your own education
  2. Don’t let your environment determine your future
  3. Avoid negative peer pressure
  4. Discover your purpose in life
  5. You must create a plan for yourself

This workbook is based on actual events and was written by Quisha Brown, a previous public school teacher in Detroit, MI, with contributions from mental health professionals, school staff and students.