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Seven New Grants in August 

In 2022, we were able to award SEVEN new grants to schools within Southern California!

Gabriella Charter School
University High School Charter
Environmental Charter High School
San Gabriel High School
Cerritos High School
Palisades Charter High School
Weigand Ave. Elementary School


  • January 10, 2019 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    Mediation & the Mind of a Child

    Clayton Joseph Scott Di Chiro

    September 7, 2018

    I began elementary school in the late 1980s in Santa Monica, CA. This was a very special time for public education in Southern California. It was pre-Internet, practically pre-personal computer, and my generation, as new students, was entering school on the frontier of radical change in the traditional public education system. Also, statistically speaking, it was the most racially integrated public schools had ever been or have ever been since; meaning there were a lot of diverse backgrounds in any given class. This was especially so in Los Angeles County public schools.

    My youth was the dawn of the Information Age, and as such, many progressive minds were shifting the function of public education by implementing new technology and ideas into the school system as teachers and administrators, especially in Santa Monica where I grew up. Full disclosure, this acknowledgement and praise of the minds formulating curriculum for the early Millennial generation is a bit biased as my mother was the Principal of my elementary school (Will Rogers Learning Community in Santa Monica) and she eventually became a district administrator for the Santa Monica School District. Family bias aside, my formative public education largely diverted from the teaching style of the generation of teachers that came before my own with the hope of preparing me and my classmates for the dynamic and diverse future we were entering.

    A cornerstone of this updated education was the inclusion of peer mediation and mediation communication principles as part of the core curriculum for study. This aspect of my education was developed jointly by the teachers and administrators of Will Rogers Elementary (grades K-5), John Adams Middle School (grades 6-8), and Santa Monica High School (grades 9-12), in collaboration with Santa Monica-based Dispute Resolution Services.

    “The program, organized by Santa Monica-based Dispute Resolution Services, unites quarreling students with peer mediators who help them settle disagreements. It aims to reduce fights and give students a cooperative outlook and a sense of responsibility, officials say. "Conflict is a natural result of living," said Judy Goldman, director of Dispute Resolution Services' mediation program for schools… The organization (formerly the Neighborhood Justice Center) launched the $117,143-a-year program a year ago to try to "contain, focus and resolve (disputes) so they don't distract from (students') education" and to show that "it's not necessarily true that there has to be a winner and a loser." LA Times “Talk It Out, Don't Duke It Out, Mediation Teaches Students” by BARBARA KOH January 8, 1989

    My own experience in mediation began with the core curriculum of my first grade class. At that young age my classmates and I were trained in communication specific disciplines such as “attentive listening”, a practice designed to help us understand a point of view or idea that was not our own, or that we might not even agree with. These listening exercises required students to repeat what they had heard from one another in an attempt to understand a possibly diverse point of view. The training also required students to respond using “conscientious speech” the practice of repeating how they, as a listener, had heard the others point of view and to further clarify the speaker’s meaning beyond the filter of the listener’s own perspective. These exercises encouraged eye contact between speakers as acknowledgement of/to the speaker; non-interruption, and taught each side to have a critical understanding that points of view could be different without either party necessarily being “wrong”. Often as young students, we were instructed to explain the other’s differing point of view with respect to our own to further understand each other.

    These communication studies in my core curriculum throughout my K-5 education served as the foundation of my continued training in peer mediation at the middle school level. Once I matriculated to John Adams Middle School I was trained as a peer mediator. This included a 25-hour out of class training in peer dispute resolution with professional mediators from Dispute Resolution Services.

    “The students, who are of various ethnic backgrounds, went through 25 hours of training. At a recent session for new mediators, the students mediated for Goldilocks and one of the bears and for Cinderella and her stepmother. They learned to summarize people's statements and practiced conveying frustration without blowing up. Instead of, "Why did you cut in front of me in the lunch line, you jerk!", it was “I feel upset when you get in front of me because I'm hungry and I waited in line and you didn't.’” LA Times “Talk It Out, Don't Duke It Out, Mediation Teaches Students” by BARBARA KOH January 8, 1989

    The peer mediation training I received back then has proved to be one of the most important and valuable skills I learned throughout my life. The techniques and strategies that were instilled in me at a young age to get out of my own story and really listen to someone who is perceptively different than myself has drastically shaped the adult I have become. Further, the practical application of actually getting to mediate and use the skills I learned in my middle school 25-hour training further instilled the potency of their effect in and on my life.

    By observing other students utilize the peer mediation program to resolve interpersonal conflict, all participants in the experience and program gained an empirical record of personal success through mediation. This experiential learning mode also gave us young people a responsibility to each other to solve our own problems, something that I have not seen in any other aspect of primary education since. I cannot emphasize enough how important this program was to our development as adults because the program taught a skill and then allowed us to use the knowledge gained through the training immediately and very practically. There was nothing esoteric about helping each other resolve our conflicts. The results were empowering to us who participated as mediators and those going through the process of mediating a conflict.

    As I entered high school I continued my official role as a peer mediator and found myself facilitating dialogue for more serious and emotional conflicts around relationships like racism, theft, and bullying. Still, the techniques learned as early as first grade were still needed and utilized to solve these more complex and extreme interpersonal conflicts we began to face as we aged. Ironically, by the time I reached the university level of my education, there was no peer mediation program as professional mediators were used to resolve peer conflict at the campus I attended.

    Even so, the mediation training I was lucky to receive during my primary education continued to serve me at University of California Santa Cruz and led me to choose Cultural Anthropology as a major. The fascination and lessons I learned by grappling with understanding the “other” (ideas, people, experiences different then my own experience) in mediations became a challenge and fascination for my study at the university. The goal of any cultural anthropologist is to remove one’s own socialization and norms out of any particular cultural moment and observe the other culture with a neutral mind, thereby avoiding applying a sort of cultural hierarchy based on one’s own experience and personal perspective. This ability surely began to develop while sitting cross-legged on the rug learning how to communicate with my fellow first graders.

    My world travels and career as a musician since university has put me into many extreme cultural, political, and emotional situations. I continue to lean on the mediation training almost everyday to keep my mind open to new ways of using conflict as a platform to grow, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. This stance has allowed me to avoid falling back on my own intrinsic beliefs and the systems that created those beliefs in times of conflict.

    To my mind, the communication practices I learned in K-5 and beyond serve as a foundation of mediation and non-violent dispute resolution used by professional mediators today. The training of young minds to be flexible and to facilitate understanding of diverse topics from diverse people with a goal of understanding another’s point of view might therefore be the most critical skill we can teach our youth in the context of their global reality. Sadly, the current socio-political environment in our national and international communities does not seem to be moving towards less combative methods of solving disputes and conflicts. More often than not ideas and understanding are marginalized by extreme ways of thinking, and conflicts seem to arise more frequently between fellow neighbors, countrymen, and humanity in general.

    I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn mediation at a very young age. Mediation in a lot of ways is my intrinsic response to conflict because I began to unravel my conflicts and disputes as a child since I was trained to do so. More often than not, that training has allowed me to look to conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow as opposed to giving into denial and avoidance as many often choose to do when confronted with conflict. The work of incorporating mediation and active/attentive listening at the very beginning of primary education could possibly be the most important thing we can teach children. I applaud the work of SCMA and other organizations that seek to enhance young minds with this type of education and training. I’m also indebted to that progressive group of educators who gave me mediation at an early age to navigate the more difficult aspects of my life.

  • January 09, 2019 9:56 AM | Anonymous

    Michael Powell heads up the AAA® Los Angeles Regional Office, focusing on the AAA’s Construction Division. In this role, he interacts with the AAA’s clients who file construction, real estate and environmental cases and the panelists how serve as arbitrators and mediators in those cases. His district includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, with oversight of 300+ arbitrators and mediators.

    Michael works closely with construction industry associations as liaison for the AAA’s National Construction Dispute Resolution Committee (NCDRC). In this capacity, he assists the corporate, legal and public sector communities in educating them on the various dispute avoidance and resolution techniques.

    Michael is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino and is a frequent trainer, national speaker and writer on the subject of alternative dispute resolution. He is a certified Mediator in both traditional and online mediation. His community service includes an active role with the California Dispute Resolution Council (Board of Directors) and Kids Managing Conflict (Board of Directors).

    KMC Sponsors fall trip to the Museum of Tolerance October 26, 2018 for Southern California Peer Mediators

    KMC sponsored four schools to attend the Museum of Tolerance. This event always moves the students in a special way. They get a better understanding of how hate and prejudice can affect the world around them.

  • January 08, 2019 9:59 AM | Anonymous

    Ariella Morrison

    Ariella Morrison also joined the Board in June. She is a volunteer mediator with Centinela Youth Services and currently working as a Senior Staff Attorney with OneJustice focusing on mobilization of pro bono attorneys for detained and non-detained immigrants in Los Angeles County. Previously, she was a volunteer attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.

  • January 07, 2019 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Kids Managing Conflict, SCMA Education Foundation is beginning its granting process for the 2018-2019 school year. We are excited to let you know that we are accepting applications in support of Peer Mediation Programs at this time, and to provide you with the necessary information and guidelines. We encourage you to apply!

    Please e-mail us at by April 1, 2018 to let us know that you are going to apply.

    The Mission of the Foundation is to support and promote programs in K-12 schools that teach students conflict management skills to enrich their lives into adulthood. Applications can be made to support and expand ongoing Peer Mediation Programs or to begin a program at your school. Dream big and we will try to support you.

    • Last year, for example, we funded:

    • Training for student mediators

    • Field trips to the Museum of Tolerance

    • A start-up peer mediation program

    Please check the attached guidelines for more information on the types of projects we fund to see if your program might qualify. We encourage you to explore your ideas or questions in a preliminary email to

    The formal proposal is due by email on April 21, 2018 12:00am PST.* Please read the attached guidelines for details on projects and application procedures before submitting and contact us with any questions you may have at:

  • January 06, 2019 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    Kids Managing Conflict, SCMA Education Foundation sponsored four Southern California Schools on March 16 to the Museum of Tolerance. The students were able to have a guided tour of the Museum and then hear from a Holocaust survivor in person. They were all profoundly moved by the experience and you can get their impressions in this short video.

  • January 05, 2019 10:05 AM | Anonymous

    At the dinner Maria recounted the accomplishments of the Foundation, observing that it had been a year of considerable growth and change, and that growth into new levels of activity often needed new leadership as well. ​ “So, as of January 1, the Foundation will have that new leadership, someone I am thrilled to see take the leadership position and who I know will do a wonderful job," Maria continued.

    Sally Patchen

    ​ “Please join me in congratulating the incoming president of the Foundation, Sally Patchen.” Sally has done much to advance the Foundation, from taking the lead on implementing the new software and working on fundraising, to putting together the wonderful gifts for the silent auction. She was named the Volunteer Mediator of the Year by the LA County Bar Association, and is a graduate of the Dominguez Hills program in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding. The Foundation Board is thrilled that she has agreed to accept this responsibility and looks forward to her new ideas and approaches.

    Shaune Gatlin

    Two new board members have also joined the Foundation in the last two months. Shaune Gatlin, previously with the LA County Bar Association, joined the Board in September and will be working on updating a training program for middle and high school students. The program was made available by the LA County Bar Association, and Shaune has been the primary trainer for the Bar for many years. Her expertise and experience with the program are an invaluable asset to the Foundation.

    Andrew Culberson

    Andrew Culberson joined the Board in October, and is the director of the Veterans Project at Patriotic Hall, overseeing the delivery of pro bono services to veterans in LA County. He was formerly the director of the Bar Association’s Civic Mediation Project and oversaw the training programs at middle schools in Santa Monica as well as providing low and no-cost mediation services to the community. He and Shaune worked closely together on delivering and developing training programs for students, and his knowledge of the field adds expertise to the Foundation.

  • January 04, 2019 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    A. Marco Turk, teacher and international peacebuilder, was named the recipient of the Foundation’s 2017 Directors’ Award for Exemplary Contributions to Mediator Education.

    A. Marco Turk

    In accepting the award Prof Turk related an experience he had with students on Cyprus where he was a Fulbright Scholar, who told him that they wanted peace, that their generation wanted to build a more peaceful society. He cited the students’ goals for supporting mediator education for students as early as possible, and noted the important work of the Foundation in this area.

    In announcing the award, Maria reflected on her long association with Prof. Turk as a member of the faculty at Cal State Dominguez.

    “It has been a gift to work with Marco Turk, to be mentored by him, and to enjoy and be able to count on his friendship. I know firsthand of his commitment to mediator education, to creating the best possible opportunities for students, and for valuing the very hard work that teaching, mediation and peace building are. It is wonderfully rewarding to see graduates of this program, a program he grew and developed and nurtured, taking their leadership positions in our profession.”

    Prof. Turk is Emeritus Professor and Director of the Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Program at CA State University Dominguez Hills, as well as adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law. He has worked with thousands of students over the years and been a friend and mentor to them all.

    Prof. Turk is recognized internationally for his work as a mediator, educator and trainer, emphasizing mediator ethics, restorative justice, and peacebuilding. Having been a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Conflict Resolution on the island of Cyprus (1997-1999), Professor Turk has made seven funded return trips to continue his peacebuilding work there, and has conducted programs for Cypriots in the USA through the U.S. State Department and the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace at San Diego State University. In October 2003, he participated as one of only two Americans invited to attend the Oxford University international workshop on "Getting to Yes" regarding efforts to reunify Cyprus. He is a recognized scholar concerning the Cyprus Problem, and he has written extensively on the subject.

    Prof. Turk has a long history in California Alternative Dispute Resolution and has received several awards acknowledging his service to the field.

    "It was my great pleasure to work with Prof . Turk as an adjunct professor in the NCRP program for over ten years and learn from his contributions to the field," said Maria, "as well as to see the many contributions that graduates of the program are now making. He has been a wonderful mentor and friend to everyone who knows him, so we are especially pleased that he has accepted this award from us."​

    Our sincere congratulations to A. Marco Turk from all of us in the mediation community.

  • January 03, 2019 10:08 AM | Anonymous

    Maria Simpson, Ph.D. received the SCMA President’s Award from Jason Harper, President of the Southern California Mediation Association, at the SCMA’s conference dinner Friday, October 20 for her leadership of the Foundation. ​

    SCMA President's Award

    Maria has been the Board Chair since 2013. She has focused on increasing efforts to support Peer Mediation Programs in the middle and high schools, and expanded fundraising so that more students and programs could be supported. In addition, she has established several new initiatives (see below) that will be implemented in 2018 and began collaborative efforts with organizations to provide additional services to schools, such as new programming, new training materials and services, and expanded financial support. ​ In accepting the award, Maria thanked Foundation supporters “who are committed to mediation, as the kids say, as a ‘way of being, not just process.'” She also said, “the last five years have been exhilarating, exciting, rewarding, frustrating, and frankly exhausting. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Thank you for the opportunity.”

About us

Our Mission:

To support and promote programs in K-12 schools that teach students conflict management skills and enrich their lives into adulthood.


Kids Managing Conflict
Address: PO Box 372

Sunset Beach, CA 90742

Telephone: 657-204-4022



Kids Managing Conflict is a 501(c)(3) and the charitable and educational arm of the Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA).  

We are honored to be a part of SCMA - California's premier professional society for mediators.

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