Three Austin donors–the Buena Vista Foundation, the Klein Family Foundation and the Tapestry Foundation–recently announced their commitment to donate $2 million to AISD’s Social and Emotional Learning initiative. The matching grant is an invitation to the Austin community to support a deeper integration of SEL into the practice of all AISD schools.
Research has established a link between the social and emotional well-being of students and their level of academic engagement. SEL teaches students to understand and practice the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making that prepare them to be effective and productive in their schools, careers and communities.
“We are grateful for this pledge and the generous support from our partners. SEL skills are skills our kids need to succeed in college, career and life,” says AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz. “These are critical for success in a 21st century workforce.”
SEL skills have proven to have real-life benefits for students both in school and in the workplace. Schools participating in AISD’s initiative the longest have seen a 45 percent decrease in discipline referral rates in elementary school and a 29 percent decrease at the middle and high school level. Furthermore, a 2006 survey by the Conference Board–a business research association–showed that three of the top four skills desired by employers are the same skills reinforced through SEL: professionalism and work ethic, teamwork and collaboration, oral communication, and ethics and social responsibility.
AISD first introduced SEL to a few schools in 2011 and has incrementally rolled it out to all schools. The funds will ensure professional development for campus and district leaders, the ongoing evaluation of SEL’s impact and the alignment of SEL to other district and community efforts.