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ExpandED's 5-City Initiative Boosts Educator SEL Skills, Evaluation Finds

By Jailain Hollon, Marketing Associate

Despite the tumult caused by the pandemic, ExpandED Schools and Every Hour Counts marked a successful year supporting afterschool educators around the country in their efforts to advance middle schoolers' social and emotional development, a recent evaluation indicates.

The evaluation of educators who are part of the National SEL Demonstration Initiative in New York City, Madison, Providence, Omaha and Dallas found gains in both SEL knowledge and practice.

At the end of the school year, 93 percent of educators said they felt motivated to deliver SEL instruction, up from 59 percent before the school year began. Eighty-six percent of educators said they felt confident delivering SEL instruction, up from 40 percent before the school year began. 

In addition, at the end of the year, 83 percent of staff rated themselves as "very" or "extremely" knowledgeable in the area of youth agency, up from 48 percent at the beginning of the year, while 84% said they were knowledgeable about educational equity, up from 51 percent.

In 2016, ExpandED Schools and Every Hour Counts, a national coalition of citywide afterschool intermediaries, joined forces to help school districts around the country better support middle school students' holistic needs. With the generous support of New York Life Foundation, the National SEL Demonstration Initiative began offering capacity-building services and convenings to partners in three cities, New York, Omaha and Dallas. The project later expanded to include Providence and Madison. In the last year, the initiative reached over 300 educators who served more than 2,300 students.

Together, ExpandED and Every Hour Counts help schools and afterschool programs to incorporate social and emotional learning practices to inspire student engagement, success and positive identity formation with a focus on the critical middle school years. Participants have developed capacity to deliver professional development related to youth voice, civic engagement, racial equity and social justice, trauma and healing, family engagement and adult mental health. 

Research studies consistently show that the middle school years are a "make or break" in terms of a young person's likelihood of graduating from high school and ultimately succeeding in college and career.

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