Implementing Social and Emotional Learning: Lessons from Three National Organizations

By Partners from SCE

In 2017-2018, the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) partnered with Wyman, YMCA of the USA, the Weikart Center to support three unique approaches to testing and scaling SEL implementation: curriculum development, continuous quality improvement and a research-to-practice learning lab. While the goal of each endeavor was unique, all three organizations aimed to support the growth of SEL practices within their networks.

Three Case Studies Explore Social and Emotional Learning Implementation in Youth-Serving Organizations

From the Preface, by Haviland Rummel, Executive Director, Susan Crown Exchange

We have learned from a large and growing body of evidence about what youth need to thrive. Social and emotional skills have come into sharp focus as key competencies for success in school, work, relationships and life. In addition to math, science, language and history, kids need to learn, practice and put into use skills like problem solving, empathy, emotion management, resilience and teamwork. Together, these skills set the stage for success. We have based our work on evidence that links social and emotional learning (SEL) to positive life outcomes and supports the value of incorporating SEL into all learning environments.

At SCE, our work in social and emotional learning focuses on programs that take place after school and on weekends, where kids participate in activities based on their passions and interests. We have selected top out-of-school programs as exemplars to understand and unpack the practices that help equip youth with social and emotional skills essential to lifelong success. Most recently, our attention has been focused on practical assessment of the challenges in bringing social and emotional learning into common practice. To that end, we are excited to share the following series of case studies that highlight how youth-serving organizations are successfully integrating SEL. One year ago, we launched exciting partnerships with YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), Wyman, and the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality to explore how each organization is effectively remixing and embedding SEL practices, curricula and evaluation tools into their work and culture.

This first case study, from the Y-USA, highlights the development and launch of the Character Development Learning Institute. This effort is Y USA’s collaborative, program-agnostic and deliberate process of verifying, adapting, scaling and sharing best practices that advance youth character development.

The second case study, from Wyman, illustrates how the organization approached a curriculum redesign and implemented new staff practice supports to optimize how practitioners intentionally work to build social and emotional skills.

The third case study demonstrates how the David P. Weikart Center for Program Quality worked with four top out-of-school time networks and intermediary organizations in St. Paul, MN, Los Angeles, CA, Seattle, WA, and Milwaukee, WI to support sites in building capacity to deliver high quality SEL practices. At the same time, The Weikart Center supported the networks to intentionally implement an SEL-aligned continuous quality improvement system.

By sharing what we’ve learned, we hope to stimulate new conversations on the importance of SEL and to help organizations identify and scale the most effective approaches. We are extremely grateful to all our partners, and even more grateful that this issue is rapidly surfacing as a topic widely known, understood, and explored.

Read all three case studies here.

Learn more about the best practices for social and emotional learning.

Download the guide