Our Work

Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) is an adaptive model for school safety grounded in community engagement, capacity building, and data-based decision making. Safety is a product of every school’s individual climate, including settings, systems, and relationships. That is why our model supports schools to establish a diverse team of stakeholders who will collect and interpret data as well as develop, implement, and monitor an action plan specific to that school’s goals, culture, and resources. Balancing data-driven prevention and intervention strategies, the comprehensive plan reflects both community voices and student needs. Our research-based model is designed to build a school’s unique capacity to promote social, emotional, and physical safety—because every educator deserves a safe place to work, and every student deserves a safe place to learn.

Our Approach

The SCSS Model integrates over twenty years of research on school safety and violence prevention into a process that values and uplifts the unique real-life experiences of school communities. It balances what our educators, students, and families need to thrive with what research shows is effective in creating safe and inclusive schools.

Our five-phase approach is:

Comprehensive: The SCSS Model uses of a broad definition for school safety that includes social, emotional, and physical safety and encourages the use of both prevention and intervention when addressing school needs.

Data-Driven: Schools using the SCSS Model utilize individual- and system-level data collected from a variety of sources to identify school-specific strengths, challenges, needs, and gaps, set priorities, and make strategic decisions. Learn more about the surveys SCSS can provide your school here.

Actionable: Throughout SCSS Model implementation, school teams will develop, implement, and monitor an individualized School Action Plan that addresses their data-identified needs and incorporates the best programs and strategies aligned to their unique context.

Adaptable: We know every school community is unique, so the tools and processes included in the SCSS Model can be tailored to fit the context and build the capacity of each school. SCSS staff are committed to partnering with schools to support SCSS Model implementation and adaptations.

Contact us to learn more about the SCSS Model and opportunities to collaborate with our team.

Download the SCSS Model Graphic

Our Partners

Over the SCSS Model’s long history, our team has had the opportunity to partner with schools, researchers, and local, state, and national organizations, government agencies, and legislators. All these partnerships have informed the SCSS Model’s growth and expanded its impact.

Past and current partners include: National Association of School Resource Officers, National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, National Center for School Safety, and the Colorado School Safety Resource Center.

SCSS currently partners with Safe2Tell, a live, anonymous, 24/7 reporting tool led by law enforcement, to accept reports whenever a Colorado youth or concerned adult perceives a threat to their safety or the safety of others.

CSPV also currently partners with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival on Shakespeare & Violence Prevention. This school touring project combines professional Shakespeare performances with violence prevention research. Over 92,000 students throughout Colorado have experienced this innovative program since its inception in 2011.

Our Impact

The school teams we partnered with during the 2019-2019 and 2019-2020 academic year completed monthly evaluations, which revealed that:

  • 97% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS contributed to a clearer understanding of their school’s current supports and resource needs
  • 94% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS built their school’s capacity around prevention efforts
  • 95% of school team members agreed their partnership with SCSS improved their school’s climate and culture

Additionally, our recent work with 46 middle schools in Colorado has allowed us to continue to add to the research on school violence and school safety. Our study on readiness (Kingston et al., 2018) suggests that intentionally addressing readiness barriers as part of a comprehensive approach to school safety can lead to improvements in readiness over time. For example:

  • Improvements were found in schools’ leadership to support the SCSS Model and in the school team’s level of priority to implement the model
  • Supportive climate for the implementation of the SCSS Model increased
  • School teams reported establishing clear standards at their schools for implementing the SCSS Model and a belief that the SCSS Model is important for improving children’s mental/behavioral health at the school

Our History

The SCSS Model was developed with funding from the Colorado Trust by multiple stakeholders in 1999 following the tragedy at Columbine High School. The SCSS Model’s first iteration was an actionable process for schools that integrated the Columbine Commission’s recommendations, violence prevention efforts, evidence-based programs, and prevention science to improve school safety and climate.

From 2008-2012, CSPV received funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the development of auto-generated reports for the SCSS School Climate Surveys. To date, the SCSS School Climate Surveys are a mainstay of the SCSS Model and have been provided to nearly 200 schools nationwide.

Most recently in 2016, CSPV received funding from the National Institute of Justice’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative to implement and evaluate the SCSS Model with 46 middle schools in Colorado. This funding allowed for the development of additional innovations within the SCSS Model, which allowed schools to (1) measure and strengthen their readiness to adopt evidence-based practices and strategies, (2) build high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams to champion the work, and (3) receive tailored tools, processes, and technical assistance to support high-quality implementation.

The SCSS team feels fortunate for the opportunity to collaborate with schools and the relationships that we have developed.

“SCSS has been a way to really find momentum and move towards sustaining momentum for change”

– School Partner

“The most gratifying part about working with SCSS was the consultants that came in and were able to listen through some of the challenges that we had at our school without any judgment and while also trying to figure out solutions to those problems”

– School Partner

“SCSS understands that each school is going to have different needs and different personalities and different children to serve.”

– School Partner

“SCSS gave us great data from staff and students, and really helped us understand our school culture as a whole and identify the needs that we have at our school, and for our population specifically.”

– School Partner

“SCSS is a collaborative team effort that provided a really good experience and enabled everybody to participate to the fullest.”

– School Partner


To ensure lessons are learned beyond this project, we create resources and publish in scientific journals to provide researchers and practitioners access to information that can help improve school safety: