Social and Emotional Learning gets partnership support for a community movement

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The Dallas Independent School District will share a four-year grant with Big Thought, an educational nonprofit that coordinates out-of-school-time creative learning programs for Dallas students.

Through the four-year Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative, they will focus on implementing social and emotional learning (SEL) during in-school and out-of-school-time, helping children in Dallas develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to be successful in school, work and life. SEL includes knowing and controlling your emotions, understanding and collaborating with others, making positive choices, and demonstrating resiliency.

The initiative supports school districts and out-of-school-time organizations in six communities around the country that have previously decided to include social and emotional learning in their services to children. Programs will be provided to roughly 15,000 children in kindergarten through fifth grade through a phased approach involving up to seven pilot schools in each city. At the same time, RAND Corporation will conduct independent research on the effort to understand benefits for children – and what it takes to generate them – as well as barriers in the way. This reflects Wallace’s dual goals of creating direct benefits for participating communities and generating credible lessons for the field that can improve the practice broadly.

Last fall, The Wallace Foundation awarded Big Thought and Dallas ISD with a joint planning grant to develop a strategic plan for implementing social and emotional learning both in-school and out-of-school. Dallas ISD and Big Thought were one of nine school district and out-of-school-time partner pairs nationwide that received a planning grant.

“We have been pleased with the collaboration and thoughtfulness that Dallas ISD and Big Thought have shown during the planning phase, as well as with the city’s overall commitment to social and emotional learning,” said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation. “We look forward to working with Dallas and the other communities in the initiative to learn more about the potential benefits of how schools and out-of-school-time providers can work together to help children build these skills.”

Joining Big Thought and Dallas ISD in this initiative is Dallas Afterschool. As a valued partner and key out-of-school-time intermediary, Dallas Afterschool has played a big role in supporting the development of the SEL strategic plan, and will continue to play an integral part in the implementation of this work moving forward. The Momentous Institute, City of Dallas Parks and Recreation, Commit and many other organizations have also supported the development of the SEL strategic plan for Dallas and will be involved in the implementation.

“Social and emotional learning makes a great impact on students’ academic achievement,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “We are appreciative of the Wallace Foundation for their belief in the district’s mission of educating all students for success and are excited to continue partnering with Big Thought to help students develop skills needed to be successful in school, work, and life.”

“Big Thought is pleased to be receiving this grant along with our valued partner Dallas ISD, on behalf of the entire Dallas out-of-school-time learning community,” said Ed Meier, Big Thought Interim Executive Director. “We believe that social and emotional learning is a vital component of a student’s success, and we are looking forward to working with Dallas ISD and The Wallace Foundation to support this important initiative.”

Implementation grants for the initiative, which amount in the first year to between $1 million and $1.5 million shared by each district/out-of-school-time intermediary pair, are contingent on the successful negotiation of grant agreements this summer. In addition, participating organizations will also receive other non-monetary support, such as inclusion in a professional learning community, regular convenings with other cities in the initiative, access to a continuous improvement system, communications counsel and other technical assistance.

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