Denver Public Schools and Denver Afterschool Alliance to Receive Major Grant

Jul. 28, 2017

Multi-Year, Multi-Million Dollar Grant to Foster Kids’ Social and Emotional Learning

Denver – Teachers and staff of Denver Public Schools (DPS), along with afterschool professionals, will receive training to learn new strategies around how to help young learners develop better social and emotional skills, both in and out of school, through the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative Grant.

DPS is partnering with the Denver Afterschool Alliance (DAA) to align and integrate day school and afterschool to better support kids with developing skills in self-control, persistence, teamwork and goal-setting, which are all linked to success in school, career and life.

Denver is one of six cities in the nation to receive the first-ever grant from the Wallace Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in New York City. In the first year of implementation, DPS and DAA will invest $1 million to $1.5 million in students in grades K-5 at six DPS schools. The partnership will also provide educators with additional support by convening members of the professional-learning community, sharing information with other cities engaged with the initiative, and ensuring they have access to resources that will continuously improve Denver’s education system.

“The support from the Wallace Foundation will allow DPS to significantly advance our work in social and emotional learning for not only our students, but for our educators,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “We look forward to deepening our partnership with the Denver Afterschool Alliance to ensure that our kids are equipped with the skills they need to thrive in and out of the classroom.”

“This work will not only strengthen our partnership with DPS, but ensure that kids across our city are supported in all settings of their learning environment,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “By taking an integrated approach in which all school educators and afterschool professionals are learning and modeling consistent development strategies, DPS and the Denver Afterschool Alliance will promote positive behaviors and outcomes for our young people.”

During the planning-grant period, which began last fall, DPS and DAA developed a plan to test and learn how to implement SEL in their communities using strategies such as providing professional development, implementing SEL pilot programs and practices, and engaging stakeholders. They received technical assistance and guidance from national 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).

“We’re very excited to announce the selection of the implementation grantee pairs, all of which worked incredibly hard during the planning phase,” said Gigi Antoni, Director of Learning and Enrichment with The Wallace Foundation. “These entities have demonstrated the potential to work collaboratively and have created thoughtful, strategic plans intended to achieve real benefits for students. We’re looking forward to following their efforts and sharing what we learn with educators and afterschool providers nationwide.”

The new initiative builds on The Wallace Foundation’s years of work in youth development, including a 12-year effort to encourage citywide coordination for afterschool that yielded more than 40 publications and found, according to a study by RAND, “that organizations across cities could work together toward increasing access, quality, data-based decision making and sustainability.”

A growing body of research, including the Wallace-commissioned University of Chicago study, Foundations for Young Adult Success, linked social and emotional learning (SEL) to success in school, career and life. However, researchers are still examining how school and afterschool experiences can be strengthened, aligned and delivered in real-world, urban settings. The new initiative will explore how this kind of cross-sector alignment may benefit children and ultimately lead to knowledge that can be applied to improving their non-cognitive and soft skills, interpersonal and intrapersonal communication, and encourage positive character development.