Heeding the Call for Change: Centering Equity in Social & Emotional Learning

Client: NoVo Foundation

Educators and researchers have long understood the role of social emotional learning (SEL) in improving learning and college and career-ready outcomes for all students. Additionally, when practitioners center equity in SEL, they can realize the full potential of SEL to bring about transformative, systemic change and avoid perpetuating the harmful notion that SEL is a tool to “fix” students, which has often been weaponized against Black and brown students. Practitioners need to shift their view towards this equity-driven purpose of SEL particularly given the context we live in today where students, families and communities are contending with the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, heightened feelings of isolation and continued violence against BIPOC communities. With much work left to be done, how should district leaders, funders and other SEL supporters invest their resources to center equity in SEL and make the greatest impact?

This publication, created with support from the NoVo Foundation, explores the different ways educators and school systems are centering equity in SEL. As part of our research, we formed a group of seven students, educators, family members and non-profit leaders from the SEL field across the nation to share their experience and expertise around what it means to center equity in SEL. In this scan, we share their insights and identify six characteristics of equity-centered SEL and recommend shifts that school districts, philanthropy and other organizations can make to center equity in SEL policies, programs and practices.

We offer this resource to all who are working to help center equity in SEL and fulfill its promise for students.

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