12 SEL Organizations Making a Difference

EdLeaders, Leadership

Around the world, schools, districts and individual educators are embracing broader aims including social emotional learning (SEL) and growth mindsets. The momentum has been building for a variety of reasons — including college and career readiness research, employer input, backlash to standardized testing and interest in positive school climate and equitable discipline practices.

Desired outcomes of SEL and Social Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD)  initiatives vary, with a typical focus on productive mindsets and supportive cultures, character development, behavior management, civic education, and career guidance and preparation.

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There are numerous organizations and individuals doing great work in this space, including but not limited to research and advocacy organizations, EdTech companies, foundations, and individual classroom teachers.

Here, we feature 12 high impact organizations making a difference through thought leadership, collaboration and research.

Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

CASEL is the nation’s leading organization advancing the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students. CASEL’s mission is “to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school.” Through research, practice and policy, CASEL collaborates to ensure all students become knowledgeable, responsible, caring and contributing members of society.  CASEL publishes the CASEL Guide on effective SEL programs for pre-school/elementary and middle/high school.


National Commission Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, Aspen Institute

In partnership with CASEL, the Aspen Institute recently launched the commission to build consensus around a lexicon, metrics, and strategies. Director Shirley Brandman has indicated they intend to advance this new term social, emotional, and academic development (#SEAD) to more fully embrace and support academic goals and not be viewed as separate or optional. The National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development is co-chaired by Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond, Business Roundtable president John Engler and CASEL chair Tim Shriver.  @AspenInstitute


Project for Education that Scales (PERTS), Stanford University

PERTS’ mission is to improve the equity of learning outcomes by bridging the gap between cutting-edge research and implementation practices. They believe that properly scaling educational research can empower schools to reduce inequity and create better experiences for students and teachers. PERTS works to translate research findings into solutions that can be implemented in schools. PERTS focuses primarily on underserved students and has partnered with entities like ClassDojo, KhanAcademy, Equal Opportunity Schools. Specifically, PERTS Mindset Challenge, a partnership to rapidly prototype mindset interventions that promote better learner outcomes. @pertslab


Start Empathy, Ashoka Changemakers

The Changemaker Schools Network is a global community of leading elementary, middle and high schools that prioritize empathy, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and changemaking as student outcomes. Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative is a collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs, educators, and citizens whose ideas and talents can contribute to the creation of a world where every child masters empathy. Ashoka has a three part strategy which includes accelerating empathy entrepreneurs, partnering with top schools, and changing the conversation to shift societal views of empathy. @Ashoka  @changemakers @StartEmpathy


Character Lab

Angela Duckworth (author of Grit and Penn professor) founded The Character Lab with the goal of advancing the science and practice of character development. Researchers, designers, and educators work together to discover the ideas and strategies that build character, translate scientific insights into educational tools, and create next-generation measures for the purposes of research and self-reflection. @TheCharacterLab


Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

Supports the Mindset Scholars Network, an interdisciplinary research network led by David Yeager (supported by Raikes Foundation).  The networks is dedicated to improving student outcomes and expanding educational opportunity by advancing our scientific understanding of students’ mindsets about learning and school. They do so by conducting interdisciplinary research, building capacity and disseminating knowledge. @CASBSStanford


Mindset Works

Mindset Works provides resources and training to cultivate a growth mindset school culture, including the Brainology curriculum and other resources for students, teachers and administrators.  Their programs are based on research by co-founder Carol Dweck and her colleagues conducted at Stanford and Columbia. Mindset Works’ mission is to enable a world in which people seek and are fulfilled by ongoing learning and growth. @mindsetworks


Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Carnegie

Carnegie launched a Student Agency Improvement Community community network that focuses on impacting everyday teacher practices in order to promote learning mindsets and skills in classroom environments.  @CarnegieFdn


Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago

CCSSR has established the Becoming Effective Learners survey measures, a research project to develop high-quality measures of noncognitive factors. (supported by Raikes Foundation). @UChicago


SixSeconds:The Emotional Intelligence Network

Six Seconds helps to promotes positive change by researching and sharing current science about emotions and the brain through a practical methodology.  Their work focuses on scientific research around skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) – and how these skills are learnable, and predict stronger effectiveness, wellbeing, relationships, and quality of life.  Six Seconds publishes a Social-Emotional Intelligence Toolset Guide for learning professionals that outlines the measures that help promote SEL individually and professionally. @6s_EQ


The SEL School: Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, Am. Institute for Research

The Social and Emotional Learning School helps teachers, school and district leaders, and state education agencies collaborate in connecting social and emotional learning to effective teaching. The GTL Center is committed to working at all levels of policy and practice to ensure that social and emotional learning is integrated into existing educator effectiveness reforms and professional development systems.The SEL Steps for Educators Guide helps outline the actions and resources that educators can utilize in order to implement SEL learning and curriculum into their classroom environments. @Education_AIR


Social, Emotional and Character Development Lab, Rutgers University

The Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) Lab is dedicated to conducting action-research in public, private, and religious school settings for the purpose of building children’s skills for facing the tests of life, and not a life of tests. The SECD Lab focuses on understanding the relationship of academic achievement, social-emotional competencies, and the development of character, and a core set of life principles.  The SECD Lab conducts projects that focus on students and their school, family, and community environments.  @RutgersU


These organizations – – and individuals making an impact – – will continue to generate momentum and best practices in the space.

The best educational institutions in the world recognize that development of the whole child is critical to ensuring students are able to prosper in the 21st century world. People see the need to develop a “whole child” with a balanced set of cognitive, social and emotional skills so that they can better face the challenges of the 21st century.

What other orgs would you add to the list? Comment below!

For more on SEL and SEAD read:



Mary Ryerse

Mary Ryerse

Mary is a Getting Smart Director of Strategic Design.


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