The Urban Assembly and Partner Organizations Pledge Support for Social-Emotional Learning Recommendations

Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development offers path forward 

 NEW YORK –  The Urban Assembly, in partnership with the Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, Student Success Network, Aperture Education and the National School Climate Center, strongly supports the recommendations released last week by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope” asserts that our nation is at a turning point: we now understand that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpin children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs. 

 “A Nation at Hope” emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice and helping students develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance requires systemic change. It offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct.  

 The Urban Assembly (UA), a partner of the Commission, is committed to advancing social, emotional, and academic development through its UA Resilient Scholars Program (UA RSP). UA RSP provides a framework for integrating social, emotional, and cognitive skills development into the school day; embeds these skills in academics and school-wide practices; and, in collaboration with the above-named partners, forges closer connections between research and practice to generate useful, actionable information for educators.

“The UA and our partners applaud the Commission for releasing this critically important report. We know from recent surveys that 95 percent of school leaders want to introduce social-emotional learning into their schools, but only 20 percent feel they have the tools to do so effectively. To close that gap, we stand ready to support the NYC DOE and other partner districts, as well as out of school providers, to ensure that commitments to social-emotional learning move from words on a page to actual benefits for students,” said David Adams, Urban Assembly’s Director of Social-Emotional Learning.

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What sets “A Nation at Hope” apart from other reports is the groundswell of support that has surged over the course of the Commission’s work and that now supports action across communities following its release. The Urban Assembly, along with nearly 100 organizations including Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, Aperture Education, Student Success Network, and the National School Climate Center, has signed on in support of the report’s conclusions and recommendations as part of an ever-widening coalition committed to advancing the work. 

“Student Success Network’s 60 member organizations thank the National Commission and its supporters for elevating the need to focus on the whole child at every age and the importance of partnerships in improving outcomes for young people. We are excited to share all we are learning about building inclusive, results-focused partnerships where youth, practitioners, and researchers work together to improve social, emotional, academic, and career outcomes.”  said Lucy Herz, Student Success Network’s Chief Operating Officer.  

In keeping with the report’s recommendations, New York State has recently released mental health and social-emotional learning guidelines for schools. The UA and its partners are deeply committed to ensuring that these are enacted through research-based, data-driven programming and practices, and that schools have the resources and tools they need in order to best serve students’ social-emotional development in a wide variety of school contexts.

More information, including a toolkit to communicate about social, emotional, and academic development, is available at NationatHope.org.   

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The Urban Assembly’s mission is to advance students’ economic and social mobility by improving public education. The UA network of 22 middle and high schools in NYC provides a community of high-quality professional learning for school leaders, teachers and school staff, using innovative, research-based methods to drive student success across academics, social-emotional learning, college access and success, and career readiness.

Student Success Network (SSN) has been committed to ensuring all students have the social-emotional learning supports they need and deserve since it was founded by the leaders of 15 education and youth development organizations in 2013.  SSN’s disciplined, practitioner-driven approach to advancing social-emotional learning is geared towards empowering those closest to students, both in and outside of school, with data and research to support the social and emotional development of young people.  Knowledge is shared throughout the network, ensuring more youth-serving staff have access to data-informed SEL practices. 

The commitment of the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (GSSS) to the promotion of the well-being of children and their successful transition into adulthood has been furthered by the involvement of MSW interns and faculty in the implementation and evaluation of the UA Resilient Scholars Program. As the primary research partner to UA RSP,  Fordham is excited to help develop and evaluate the latest approaches in implementation science to advance the Commission’s recommendations.

 The National School Climate Center commends the Aspen Commission's report and is committed to ensuring that students across the country have the opportunity to learn in environments that support their academic and social emotional development. 

Aperture Education’s work is rooted in the belief that children hold the promise for a better tomorrow, and an obligation to ensure that they have the skills and mindsets necessary to be good stewards of our future. Aperture is excited to support the Commission's findings, and stands ready to partner with schools and districts around assessment of students’ social emotional strengths and competencies.