Strategic Approach

NoVo believes that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), brought to scale, can and will play a significant role in shifting our culture of systemic inequality and violence toward a new ethos that values and prioritizes collaboration and partnership.

SEL aligns directly with NoVo Foundation’s intention to nurture a new generation that will break cycles of competition and domination, employing skills and motivation to build a more equitable, cooperative, and just world. NoVo embraces our collective responsibility to help all girls and boys realize their full potential. And we believe, based on strong social science evidence, that SEL has particular power to unlock a broad range of human capacities—intellectual and emotional—which prepare children to co-create a kinder, more interconnected, and equitable future.

NoVo’s strategic approach is ambitious and multilayered. Our SEL strategy emphasizes:

  • The importance of schools as institutions that reach most children: We seek to integrate SEL programs and practices into the very heart of education, through formal SEL curricula, re-imagining school structures, and improving school climates. We work with large school districts in the U.S. seeking better outcomes for their students. Over time, we plan to work with a range of school systems and with community institutions serving youth.


CASEL logoCollaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the lead Social and Emotional Learning practice, policy, and research organization in the United States, and a core partner in NoVo’s efforts to advance and scale SEL. NoVo supports the Collaborating Districts Initiative, which involves the planning for, and implementation of, district-wide SEL in eight of the largest school districts in the U.S.

  • Evidence-based Social and Emotional Learning Program Providers: SEL program providers have a historic opportunity to scale their work by building both effectiveness and capacity to respond to growing demand. Strong evidence of effectiveness, both developed and nascent, guides our partnerships and investments.
  • Continuous Learning guides program development: Active monitoring and evaluation of efforts to bring evidence-based SEL to more children will allow us to correct and refine strategies midcourse. We place a premium on collaborating dynamically with grantee partners, who are also learning and improving.
  • Field building: We expect our work to raise consciousness about SEL as an education reform strategy with wide-ranging benefits. Communications efforts will help build demand, both within the education establishment and among the public. Identifying compatible education reform efforts, and working alongside them, will be crucial to achieving our goal. A core strategy is to also raise awareness and develop strong partnerships within philanthropy.