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Popular Practitioner Focused Guide for Navigating Social and Emotional Learning SEL Programs Updated

Popular Practitioner-Focused Guide for Navigating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs Updated with Expanded Content
July 27, 2021

12:01 ET
July 27, 2021


Melissa Connerton
The Wallace Foundation 

Bari Walsh
Harvard Graduate School of Education 


Popular Practitioner-Focused Guide for Navigating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs Updated with Expanded Content, New Chapters on Equity and Trauma-Informed Approaches to SEL Activities and Implementation

New 2021 Edition Enables Educators and Out-of-School Time Providers to ‘Look Inside’ Nearly Three Dozen Evidence-Based Programs on SEL from Pre-K through Elementary School​

NEW YORK – Addressing the social and emotional needs of children is a vital part of their overall development – one that is even more important now in the wake of a pandemic that has impacted them in so many ways. An update to a highly popular 2017 guide on evidence-based SEL programs now offers new, detailed information on 33 programs (now including pre-K programs) encompassing curricular content and program highlights for practitioners both in and out of school. 

With the expanded guide, practitioners from schools, early childhood education (ECE) providers and out-of-school time (OST) organizations have an even more robust resource for “looking inside and across” 33 SEL programs to better understand program content and assess program fit with their district or community needs. The updated report offers a detailed look at specific skills, instructional methods and implementation features/supports offered by each SEL program. In addition to helping practitioners make decisions about implementing pre-packaged programs, the guide is also a useful resource for those who want to build their own, independent approach to SEL without purchasing a formal curriculum.   

As part of the refresh, the 2021 edition features new chapters that include recommendations for achieving equitable SEL (including common barriers and best practices) and guidance on trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive approaches to SEL, which includes principles, practices, and recommendations for integrating SEL into regular practice.

Navigating SEL from the Inside Out: Looking Inside & Across 33 Leading SEL Programs: A Practical Resource for Schools and OST Providers, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition was written by a team of researchers from The Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning (EASELLaboratory, led by Dr. Stephanie Jones, Gerald S. Lesser Professor of Child Development and Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  The report was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, children and adults are either returning to or creating new learning environments that look and feel very different from what they are used to,” said Jones. “Strong SEL supports are more critical than ever in this new learning climate to maintain strong and supportive relationships, build resilience and coping skills, and support the social and emotional assets shown to buffer against the negative effects of trauma and stress.”

“In addition to adding content around pre-K programs, we’ve also added chapters on equity and SEL and trauma-informed SEL. These are important additions because to be equitable, SEL must be relevant, affirming and effective for students of all background, cultures and identities,” she added. 

Gigi Antoni, director of learning and enrichment at The Wallace Foundation said it makes a valuable contribution to the field.

“Since the original guide was released in 2017, it has been downloaded more than 150,000 times from the Wallace Knowledge Center alone – and is one of our most popular reports. With the new version, practitioners have even more evidence-based guidance as they select, adapt, design or implement SEL programming that meets their unique settings and needs, plus additional information on infusing equity and a trauma-informed approach into their SEL work.   We hope this updated guide will be even more informative than the original version.”

The guide, which builds upon and complements existing tools for SEL practitioners, is a practical resource that provides profiles of each program, including the specific skills it targets and instructional methods it uses. Some programs, for example, are designed to help students regulate their behavior and build positive relationships, while others are aimed at developing certain mindsets or character traits.

The new guide offers:

  • Background information on SEL and its benefits, including key features of effective programs and common implementation challenges,
  • A summary of the evidence base for each of the 33 programs,
  • Recommendations for adapting the programs for OST settings,
  • Summary tables that allow consumers to compare unique features, program components, and instructional methods, as well as see which skills each program targets,
  • Recommendations for achieving equitable and trauma-informed SEL,
  • Detailed, individual profiles for each of the programs, and
  • A new “How to Use the Navigating SEL Guide” supplement that includes processes and worksheets to help practitioners use the information in the report.


The Wallace Foundation’s mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. Wallace works nationally, with a focus on the arts, K-12 education leadership and youth development. In all of its work, Wallace seeks to benefit both its direct grantees as well as the fields in which it works by developing and broadly sharing relevant, useful knowledge that can improve practice and policy. For more information, please visit the foundation’s Knowledge Center at


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