In this episode of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, I sit down with a powerful changemaker and inspirer, Courtney Macavinta. An author and a life coach, Courtney is the founder of The Respect Institute, a global organization that builds the capacity of youth influencers to help vulnerable youth achieve positive academic and life outcomes. The overall mission of The Respect Institute is to make respect the status quo. (How cool is that?)

Our conversation focuses on Courtney’s work trying to impact the “school to prison pipeline,” which according to the ACLU is a nationwide system of education and public safety policies that pushes students out of school and into the criminal justice system. These education policies are disproportionately targeting youth of color and youth with disabilities, and today we talk about not only why that is, but what we can do about it.

I believe this one of the most important social justice issues of our time, and it’s one that absolutely has an impact on the lives of thousands of differently-wired children everywhere. I hope you enjoy the episode and that it motivates you as much as it did me!


About Courtney: Courtney is a domestic violence survivor whose multi-racial family struggled for respect amid issues like substance abuse, incarceration, high-school dropout and teen pregnancy. As a young adult, her mission became to create a world where “respect for all” is the status quo. A nationally recognized youth development expert and award-winning journalist, Courtney is co-author of the best-selling book, RESPECT, and led the creation of groundbreaking self-respect building tools, such as The Respect Basics. Courtney has been featured by CNN, ABC, National Public Radio, USA Today, and Teen Vogue, and was tapped as a resource by the White House and the Global Clinton Initiative. She was a top-five national finalist for the American Express NGen Leadership Award, was most named one of the ’42 leading women in education’ by the University of Southern California, and was a Local Hero Award Winner by Cosmopolitan for Latinas. In 2015, she was appointed to the Juvenile Justice Commission for Santa Clara County, California.



  • Why self-respect matters more than self-esteem
  • How bullying is used to maintain social capital and high self-esteem
  • Courtney’s definition of respect: “Knowing you’re a unique contributor to the greater whole”
  • What the “school to prison pipeline” is and why differently-wired kids are especially vulnerable
  • How we can make respect the culture of our kids’ schools
  • Why parents of typically developing kids have to step up to the plate
  • The (big) problem with schools embracing a “zero tolerance” bullying policy
  • The power of positive discipline as a tool for fostering self-respect and a respectful culture