A city where children and adults are prepared with the social and emotional skills to lead healthy, productive lives.
To foster collaborative communities that promote social and emotional development through in-school and out-of-school programs.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) builds the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that both students and adults need to be successful in school, work, and life. They include things such as knowing and controlling your emotions, teamwork, understanding others, making positive choices, and resilience.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five core SEL competencies, including Self-Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. Together, these competencies support both inner and outer connections such as understanding one’s identity and values while likewise building positive relationships with others and valuing diverse experiences and perspectives. In this way, SEL is an ongoing process for both students and adults with relevant applications in all aspects of our lives (personal, academic / professional, etc.).
CASEL usually visualizes the five competencies within three rings: classrooms, schools, and home and communities, noting that these areas of a student’s life are closely connected (and therefore, SEL should likewise be infused across these areas). We would add out of school representation to the school level, noting that afterschool programs are an integral part of a student’s life as well and an excellent opportunity for SEL skill development as well.
Download a one-pager describing the five SEL competencies.
In 2019, the Aspen Institute released a report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development, describing the need for social and emotional learning and providing implementation recommendations for a range of stakeholders. Incorporating social and emotional learning into ongoing learning is meaningful for students and adults in the following ways:
Adults and students do not simply gain these skills with the passage of time. It is valuable and necessary to directly teach these specific SEL skills, incorporate them in ongoing learning, and guide continual refinement across all five SEL competencies.
*W. Cunningham and P. Villasenor, “Employer voices, employer demands, and implications for public skills development policy connecting the labor and education sectors,” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7582 (Washington: World Bank Group, 2016).
In the summer of 2017, Dallas Independent School District and Big Thought were awarded a six-year Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI) implementation grant from the Wallace Foundation. The grant’s guiding question is: If urban schools and their afterschool partners work together to improve and align experiences and climate to foster children’s social and emotional learning, will students benefit?
Six communities were chosen by The Wallace Foundation to receive six-year PSELI implementation grants.
Each of these communities had previously committed to including social and emotional learning in their services to children. Sites were chosen based on fit with The Wallace Foundation’s dual goals of helping local partners to strengthen their capacity and developing new knowledge that will be useful to the field.
To effectively answer this question in Dallas, Dallas ISD and Big Thought are partnering with Dallas Afterschool and City Of Dallas Park & Recreation to align planning, training, and continuous cycles of improvement for the benefit of staff and students at our 14 PSELI grant sites. This ongoing collaborative partnership among Dallas ISD, Big Thought, Dallas Afterschool, and the City of Dallas Parks & Recreation is called SEL Dallas. The SEL Dallas team receives ongoing planning and implementation support from our technical assistance partners at CASEL and the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.
Our 14 PSELI grant sites are broken up into two Phases. Phase I sites are expected to implement comprehensive SEL in grant years 1 through 4, which includes intensive, ongoing support from all local partners.
Alternatively, Phase II sites, during grant years 1-4, are meant to operate “business as usual” and not implement any SEL practices or related training (for in- or out of school time) as part of a long-term study of PSELI implementation.
During grant years 5-6, Phase II sites lead their SEL implementation process and receive ongoing support for in- and out of school alignment at an accelerated pace with local partner guidance.
To document the learning process and collect relevant information for the field, The Wallace Foundation has partnered with the RAND Corporation to conduct a long-term study of the PSELI grant (across six PSELI communities). Not only does this benefit each of the PSELI communities as they receive ongoing data and feedback from students and staff members over the course of the grant but this likewise contributes to a national understanding of what it takes to effectively align in- and out of school SEL implementation efforts for meaningful impact.
By the end of the 2020 school year, SEL Dallas had achieved the following:
The PSELI grant in Dallas is expected to end in summer 2023. Our partnership’s collective learning and resource development during the PSELI study has shaped our Guidebook content and rand will serve as a catalyst for future implementation efforts across Dallas.