Date: August 2, 2017
The School District of Palm Beach County and Prime Time Palm Beach County will be part of a national effort to help children in six communities gain greater opportunities for social and emotional learning and to understand how schools and out-of-school-time providers can work together to align and improve those opportunities
Palm Beach County, Florida (August 2, 2017) – The School District of Palm Beach County will share a four-year grant with Prime Time Palm Beach County, a nonprofit intermediary organization that serves out-of-school time (OST) programs and practitioners. Through the four-year Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative, they will focus on helping elementary school-aged children in Palm Beach County develop positive social and emotional skills, such as self-control, persistence, teamwork and goal-setting, which are linked to success in school, career and life.
The initiative supports school districts and afterschool organizations in six communities around the country that have previously decided to include social and emotional learning in their services to children. Programs will be provided to roughly 15,000 children in kindergarten through fifth grade through a phased approach involving up to seven pilot schools in each city.
At the same time, RAND Corporation will conduct independent research on the effort to understand benefits for children – and what it takes to generate them – as well as barriers in the way. This reflects Wallace’s dual goals of creating direct benefits for participating communities, as well as generating credible lessons for the field that can improve practice broadly.
Implementation grants for the initiative, which amount in the first year to between $1 million and $1.5 million shared by each district/out-of-school-time intermediary pair, are contingent on the successful negotiation of grant agreements this summer. In addition, the School District of Palm Beach County, Prime Time Palm Beach County and the participating OST programs will also receive other non-monetary support, such as inclusion in a professional learning community, regular convenings with other cities in the initiative, access to a continuous improvement system, communications counsel and other technical assistance.
“We are very excited about this collaboration with the Wallace Foundation and Prime Time Palm Beach County,” said Dr. Robert Avossa, Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent. “The promotion of social and emotional learning echoes a key theme from the District’s Strategic Plan, which is to build a positive and supportive school climate. This grant will help us achieve that goal and also support the District’s mission to empower each student to reach his or her highest potential. We’re proud to partner with these organizations to provide a well-rounded education that meets each aspect of a child’s development.”
“We are thrilled to be part of the exciting Wallace Foundation initiative with the School District of Palm Beach County,” said Suzette L. Harvey, President/CEO of Prime Time Palm Beach County. “Social and emotional learning is at the heart of what we do with practitioners and youth during the hours after school and in summer, and we are delighted to have a vehicle to share and learn what works with school day professionals. Ultimately, our goals are the same – success in school, work and life for all youth.”
A growing body of research, including the Wallace-commissioned University of Chicago study Foundations for Young Adult Success, has linked social and emotional learning – which is also known by terms including non-cognitive skills, inter-/intrapersonal skills, soft skills and character development – to success in school, career and life.
However, it is not yet known how school and afterschool experiences can be strengthened, aligned and delivered in real-world, urban settings to help children develop these skills. The new initiative will explore how this kind of cross-sector alignment may benefit children in participating communities and ultimately lead to knowledge that can be applied to the broader field.
“We’re very excited to announce the selection of the implementation grantee pairs, all of which worked incredibly hard during the planning phase,” said Gigi Antoni, the director of learning and enrichment at The Wallace Foundation. “These entities have demonstrated the potential to work collaboratively and have created thoughtful, strategic plans intended to achieve real benefits for students. We’re looking forward to following their efforts and to sharing what we learn with educators and afterschool providers nationwide.”
During the planning-grant period, which began last fall, the School District of Palm Beach County and Prime Time Palm Beach County developed a plan to test and learn how to implement SEL in their communities using strategies such as providing professional development, implementing SEL programs and practices within a group of pilot schools, supporting continuous improvement, establishing policies and guidelines to support SEL, and communicating with and engaging stakeholders. They received technical assistance and guidance from national experts affiliated with the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, the Forum for Youth Investment and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
The new initiative builds on The Wallace Foundation’s years of work in youth development,including a dozen-year effort to encourage citywide coordination for afterschool that yielded more than 40 publications and found, according to a study by RAND, “that organizations across cities could work together toward increasing access, quality, data-based decision making and sustainability.”
About the School District of Palm Beach County
The School District of Palm Beach County is the 11th largest in the nation and the fifth largest in the State of Florida with 185 schools, serving more than 194,300 students who speak 154 languages and dialects. As the largest employer in Palm Beach County, the school district has 22,051 employees, including more than 12,729 teachers.
About Prime Time Palm Beach County
Prime Time Palm Beach County’s mission is to foster high quality in OST programs, which provide opportunities for children and youth to succeed. Prime Time oversees a system for reaching quality standards through assessment, program improvement planning and quality coaching. It also provides professional development, career advising, and networking opportunities to OST practitioners, and through partnerships, supports a range of enrichment activities available to OST programs countywide. On an annual basis, Prime Time impacts the lives of 20,000 children in 250 programs and serve more than 1,500 practitioners.