The Toolbox Project

A research based, community-tested, social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum that fosters the development of resilience, self-mastery, and empathy in K–6 students and beyond

(1) The Toolbox Project by Dovetail Learning enables children to manage their own self-mastery by instructing them in 12 Tools that empower them for life.
These twelve tools are an internal guidance system or “inner technology” innate to all children regardless of their circumstances. The Toolbox curriculum has been shown to (1) promote resiliency skills of children; (2) significantly and rapidly improve school climate; and (3) strengthen links between school, home, and community efforts to support children.

This project is a mobile application designed to introduce and reinforce the 12 Tools to parents and families. Currently the Toolbox Project instructs teachers and students in the classroom. Integration of the 12 Tools through use of mobile platforms to educate families, reinforce use and understanding of the tools, and promote family participation will broaden and support the whole family in a fun, engaging way.

The 12 Tools are: The Breathing Tool; A Quiet/Safe Place; Listening; Empathy; Personal Space; Using Our Words; Garbage Can; Taking Time; Please & Thank You; Apology & Forgiveness; Patience, and Courage Tools. For example The Breathing Tool, will utilize a breathing pacer to track and diagram how lungs expand and contract. It will track useage and time to encourage use and conscious participation and collaboration within the family. Studies on heart rate variability, primarily driven by breath rate, demonstrate powerful physiological relaxation from breathing at a rate between 5 – 6 breaths per minute. Designed for inner development, these tools provide a proven and systematic method for increasing self-awareness, authentic communication, fostering safety and trust, and development of emotional resilience in family members, parents, and their children.

We envision utilizing music and sounds, customized personal and natural habitat photos, interactive diagrams, family exercises, and challenging games designed for family interaction and integration. As envisioned, the application takes family members through, not only the concepts made explicit by the 12 Tools, but games and challenges to support their application in daily life. When children and parents receive the same self-empowering inner tools, language and concepts in both the school and home, rapid behavioral changes result. From a consumer perspective, the mobile application serves as a gateway for children and parents unfamiliar with the 12 tools and to the Toolbox Project and community. While the 12 Tools are innate within each of us, the Toolbox Project formalizes these inner tools in a structured, explicit model.

After two decades of research, field-testing and refinement, Dovetail Learning is poised to take the Toolbox Project to a new level, reaching many more children, families, and schools. As an evidence-based program with demonstrated positive impact, Dovetail Learning is receiving a significant increase in requests for training and use of the Toolbox model.

(2) Current applications on mobile devices primarily teach content and skills: geography; letters and spelling; languages including signing; words or stories; and daily living activities, like brushing teeth. Some use art and color to encourage imagination and drawing skills. The few applications that teach emotional skills focus on identifying emotions. Emotional competency is more than identifying emotions in oneself or others. Emotional competency requires developing capacity: the patience tool, apology & forgiveness, and courage tools. It involves self-regulation, like Toolbox’s breathing tool, safe/quiet places, personal space, and letting go (garbage can). There are no systematic inner technology tools for kids and parents with the proven foundation and validation found in Toolbox.

Mobile applications will support parent’s ability to also access and utilize the 12 Tools, Having quick and easy access to tools will help parents navigate daily life challenges and will have positive effects on their relationships with their children. Social integration will encourage families to share their Toolbox experiences with their wider community. This project is unique in that Toolbox Tools provide concepts that translate across all divides of language, culture, and ideologies.

(3) Budget Total: $25,000

Applications Development: $1,000
-(contracted w/ experienced app developer)
-User Interface – (4 weeks)
-Programming/App Development – (6 weeks)
-Apple Yearly Developers


Applications Version Support: $5,000
-@ each OS version & updates: (1 week @ $32/hr.)
-App feature additions & modifications:(2-4 weeks in year 2)
-Added platforms(Android)(year 2)

Internet Infrastructure: $2,500
-(Web hosting for server applications support)

Continued Toolbox Mobile Development: $3,900
-(6 months)

Mobile Application Coordinator: $300

Social Community Moderator: $1,200
-(1 year)

Marketing/Outreach: $2000
-(initial and ongoing) (1 year)

TOTAL $25,000

(4) As Founder and Executive Director, Mark Collin, MA, MFT has worked in and collaborated with schools and communities for eighteen years—creating, developing and teaching The Toolbox Project. Mark has been teaching and practicing in the field of humanistic, Jungian, and transpersonal psychology for thirty-seven years. He has extensive training in mediation and taught at Kaiser Hospital for ten years. He is also in private practice as an MFT in Santa Rosa.

Russell D. Park, Ph.D., Mobile Application Coordinator, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in transpersonal psychology and neurotherapy. Russell is an Adjunct Research Faculty member for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. He has background in clinical laboratory medicine, the use of visual and auditory technology for psychological change, alternative healing approaches, biotechnology research, and computer science applications and practices.

Chuck Fisher, PhD, is the Director of Training and Development. Chuck brings thirty years of experience in teaching, school counseling, administration, teacher training, and transpersonal research to his work with Dovetail Learning. Working in close partnership with Mark Collin, Chuck has led firm growth for The Toolbox Project, doubling its presence in schools and leading recent curriculum revisions. His expertise and gentle spirit will guide the development and implementation of the Train–the-Trainers Program, an essential part of this project moving us toward scaling and expansion.

Peter Hwoschinsky, Documentarian for the Toolbox Project is founder and owner/producer of Hwosch Productions, Make It Real Films and True Wealth Trainings. Peter is a documentary producer, recording and performing songwriter/composer, trained mediator and a certified facilitator for The Compassionate Listening Project (TCLP). His work includes producing documentary films, original music, co-directing non-profit projects and various efforts for transformational change around the world.

(5) In 2007 Mark Collin’s received the Sonoma County Community Service Project of the Year Award given by the Volunteer Center Sonoma County with recognition by California State Legislators, Congressperson Lynn Woolsey, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County. In 2000, The Toolbox Project received the Jack London Award for Educational Excellence from Sonoma State University; and in 1999 it earned the Program of Excellence award from the Sonoma County Office of Education.

The Stuart Foundation and WestEd completed a preliminary assessment of the impact of Toolbox using several measures of school climate and well being, including school safety, student behavior at the school, and perception of students ability to solve problems and “bounce back” from adversity. The WestEd study found significant increases in Intrapersonal skills, Interpersonal skills, Affective skills, and School Climate & Connectedness indicators. Results are compelling and it is expected that this research will help establish Toolbox as an evidence-based, “promising practice,” a critical step for future expansion.

A grant to Dovetail Learning through the Mental Health Services Act: Prevention and Early Intervention Program implemented a Toolbox-based “Student Assistance Program” in collaboration with the California Parenting Institute (CPI) to provide a continuum of prevention and intervention services, in the Bellevue Union School District of Santa Rosa. This project is a community based collaboration, bringing Toolbox into all classes, providing support to lower functioning students through small counseling groups, and providing level IV PPP parent education support through in-home parent educators.

Toolbox is an approved social-emotional learning program in 56 schools in 6 Northern California Counties. Dovetail Learning trained faculty, counselors and classified staff for the Toolbox Project implementation in 29 new schools in 2011, more than doubling the presence of Toolbox in schools. For 2012-2014, marketing will focus on K-6 elementary public schools with high poverty and other risk factors in diverse rural and urban communities, schools with significant academic challenges.

The results of the WestEd/Wright School District 15-week impact study provide independent evidence that Toolbox works, further enabling its rapid adoption and dissemination. A strong management team is in place, with a clear vision of the future, and a comprehensive understanding of what it will take to achieve that vision.

Dovetail Learning has a strong pipeline of supportive funders, community based organizations (CBOs), and schools. We also have a strong business model supporting our own sustainability. We currently seek investment partners with expertise in technology to develop interactive web-based systems that give Toolbox long-term sustainability for global expansion.

The development of mobile applications to support parents and families helps Toolbox reach substantially more families, bridging the gap between schools and the home environments.