Education, Investment Announcements

New Profit Invests $1 Million in Social and Emotional Learning Leader CASEL

Through efforts in research, practice, and policy, CASEL aims to make social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of American Pre K-12 education.

September 16, 2020

New Profit, a national venture philanthropy organization, announced that it will support CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) with $1 million in unrestricted funding and additional strategic support over the next four years to help CEO Karen Niemi and her team expand the organization’s impact. 

Through efforts in research, practice, and policy, CASEL is addressing the “missing link” in education: our nation’s gap in SEL. This refers to the process by which individuals learn to understand and manage their emotions, set goals and make decisions, and engage in positive relationships. CASEL’s recent research shows that SEL can positively impact students in underserved communities; in one study of 255 ethnically diverse preschool students, a student’s emotional intelligence at age four was directly correlated to his or her math scores in first grade. 

According to CASEL’s research, students who engaged in SEL interventions academically performed 11 percentile points above those who did not. Additionally, students demonstrated improved classroom behavior, an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school. SEL’s impact is long-term with an 11:1 return on investment, meaning that for every dollar invested there is an $11 return (read the 2015 review from Columbia University)

New Profit Managing Partner Shruti Sehra, who has joined the CASEL board, commented on the critical importance of this investment at the current moment of disruption in education: “As young people and educators enter into schools in varying modalities and with incredible uncertainty and a lack of consistent supports, CASEL’s work to transform education to include social emotional learning and address systemic inequities is critical to ensuring everyone in education can grow, learn, and succeed.” 

CASEL’s SEL framework emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across classroom, school, family, and community settings to enhance students’ social, emotional and academic development. It focuses on five broad and interrelated areas of competence: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. These competencies can be fostered using a variety of approaches, which include:

  • Free-standing lessons designed to enhance students’ social and emotional competence 
  • Teaching practices such as cooperative learning and project-based learning, which promote SEL
  • Integration of SEL and academic curriculum such as language arts, math, social studies, or health
  • Organizational strategies that promote SEL as a schoolwide initiative that creates a climate and culture conducive to learning

New Profit has a longstanding relationship with CASEL dating back to collaboration around the multi-sector Reimagine Learning Initiative, which aimed to chart new pathways towards helping the most underserved students succeed in school and life. Central to the initiative was bringing together formerly disparate communities—particularly those focused on serving students with learning differences and those focused on bringing social emotional learning to classrooms. 

“Especially in this moment of incredible complexity for students, families, and educators alike, CASEL is accelerating our work to help transform schools into places where all students feel seen, heard, and valued,” says CASEL CEO and President Karen Niemi. “We are grateful for New Profit’s partnership and believe that together we can establish supportive learning environments that empower students to overcome challenges and help them create more just and equitable communities.”

Over the next four years, in addition to the unrestricted grant, New Profit will partner with CASEL on leadership and board development, and strategic planning for growth and impact, among other areas.

To learn more about CASEL, visit