Playworks Turns Kids into Peer Counselors on the Playground

Playworks pic

Playworks
Image: playworks.org

Neill Sullivan is the founder of Sullivan Management Company and REO Homes, both headquartered in Oakland, California. Neill Sullivan and his companies are heavily involved in local charity and regularly contribute to important civic projects. Mr. Sullivan recently contributed funds to support the new Playworks program at Prescott Elementary School in West Oakland.

Playworks, an anti-bullying program, is now in full swing at more than 350 elementary schools in the United States. The program calls on exceptional students in the upper grades, asking them to become ambassadors to their peers during recess. These “junior coaches” keep an eye on their peers, and look for trouble.

If a conflict pops up on the playground, junior coaches help their peers and younger schoolmates resolve differences without name calling or violence. When someone is being treated unfairly or singled out, coaches help them feel included. Student coaches also do their part to encourage exercise and physical activity on the playground.

Some participating schools are reporting significant improvements to student conduct during recess. Administrators report a modest increase in physical activity and say that disciplinary referrals during recess have declined markedly.

KIPP Bridge Requests Excellence of Traditionally Underserved Students

KIPP Bridge Academy pic

KIPP Bridge Academy
Image: kippbayarea.org

The founder and president of SMC and REO Homes, LLC, in Oakland, California, Neill Sullivan operates and manages real estate investment funds and renovates and restores vintage houses in the Berkeley and Oakland areas. In addition to leading his companies, Neill Sullivan maintains an active presence in his community and is a sponsor of such organizations as KIPP Bridge Academy.

Part of the KIPP Bay Area Schools, which consists of 11 schools and over 3,800 students, KIPP Bridge Academy develops academic knowledge and character traits that help students succeed at competitive high schools, colleges, and workplaces. A free college-prep school, KIPP Bridge has an extended school schedule that focuses on results. All students attend school for around eight hours Monday through Friday, and they are expected to attend school for three hours on certain Saturdays. On average, students receive two hours of homework every night and must attend one to two weeks of summer school.

The school’s commitment to excellence has helped its students grow in both reading and math over 20 percent more than the national averages. More than 80 percent of KIPP students get into college, compared to just 45 percent of low-income students overall in the United States, and some of KIPP Bridge’s students have been accepted to such universities as UC Davis, Emory University, and Baylor University. The majority of KIPP Bridge students qualify for federal free and reduced private meals program, and over 95 percent of them are students of color. Given KIPP Bridge’s academic successes, the school is successfully working toward closing the achievement gap for students who have been traditionally underserved.