​​​​The Problem

A growing body of research, including a University of Chicago study, Foundations for Young Adult Success, has linked social and emotional skills to success later in life. However, less is known about how school and afterschool experiences can be aligned and delivered in real-world, urban settings to help develop these skills.

​​How We Are Tackling It

To better understand how schools and afterschool partners can improve and align experiences and climate to foster children’s social and emotional learning, Wallace has launched The Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning initiative, a new, multi-year, multi- million dollar effort.

In the first phase, nine urban school districts and their afterschool partners have been awarded grants to help the partners collaborate on developing a plan to improve adult practices that support the development of students’ social and emotional skills. Each pair will share a $400,000 grant.

The nine planning grantee pairs are:

  • Boston Public Schools and Boston Afterschool and Beyond
  • Dallas Independent School District and Big Thought
  • Denver Public Schools and the Denver Afterschool Alliance / Office of Children's Affairs
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools and Our Community’s Children / ELO Network
  • New York City Public Schools and ExpandED Schools
  • Oakland Unified School District and The Partnership for Children & Youth
  • School District of Palm Beach County and Prime Time Palm Beach County
  • Tacoma School District and The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
  • Tulsa Public Schools and The YMCA of Greater Tulsa

During the first phase of the initiative, technical assistance will be provided by experts affiliated with the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, the Forum for Youth Investment, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

In the second phase expected to begin in summer 2017, up to six pairs among the nine will receive three-year implementation grants and RAND will conduct a comprehensive research study.

As in all of its work, Wallace seeks to meet two goals: directly benefiting organizations that receive our grants and those they serve; and, gathering evidence that benefits the field as a whole, in this case on whether and how aligning school / afterschool practices on social and emotional learning helps students.

Among the questions the initiative seeks to answer:

  • What are the experiences of the district-OSTI partnerships and the effects of local context?
  • How do the social and emotional skills and attitudes of the adults working in school and OST settings affect how they promote SEL in children?
  • How do the district-OSTI partnerships’ SEL-focused activities benefit children on measures of the children’s social, emotional, academic and behavioral outcomes?
  • How does the continuous improvement process built into the initiative affect the work of the partners?

Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning draws from The Wallace Foundation’s years of work in youth development, including a dozen-year effort to encourage citywide coordination for afterschool that yielded more than 40 publications, as well as work with urban school districts.