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Nonprofit Receives $1M Grant to Help Support Social, Emotional Learning

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Knowing how to control yourself and successfully resolve conflict comes in handy in the classroom, on the playground, and on the job. These skills are considered to be part of social and emotional learning, or SEL, and leaders of a New York City-based nonprofit hope to share these lessons with thousands of students thanks to a $1 million grant.

ExpandED Schools, which is dedicated to closing the learning gap through expanded opportunities for educational experiences, received the three-year grant from the New York Life Foundation to promote social and emotional learning in middle schools.

Green116.JPGThe grant will allow the organization to provide special programming through after-school and expanded-learning-time programs in eight high-poverty middle schools, including four in New York City and four in two other cities still to be determined. The organization plans to serve 2,000 students in all.

"We see the social-emotional learning skills as the essential foundation for success in higher education, in life, that you need to understand your strengths, [and] have positive relationships with others," said Laura Larimer, ExpandED Schools' senior development officer. "You can problem-solve. You can persevere. These are skills that will serve you in every setting of your life."

Through the grant, ExpandED Schools will help these schools and their community partners implement practices such as RULER, an approach to harnessing the power of emotional intelligence that was developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is an acronym, which stands for recognizing emotions in self and others, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling emotions accurately, expressing emotions appropriately, and regulating emotions effectively.

Teams of educators from each school will receive training in RULER and then share what they've learned with the whole school community.

Each school will also receive individual, specialized programming. For example, one school may want to focus on restorative justice while another chooses to work on building perseverance or grit.

This grant comes as a growing body of research shows that social and emotional learning can have a positive impact on school climate and academic success.

Photo: Students at a New York City middle school in the ExpandED Schools Network socialize with their friends. (Bruce Gilbert)

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