Press Releases

NoVo Foundation announces social emotional learning Innovation Fund award winners

$1.2 million will be given to educators and school districts to support innovations in social and emotional learning

NEW YORK, NY — Today the NoVo Foundation, in partnership with Education First and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, announced the 2018 teacher and district awardees of the Social and Emotional Learning Innovation Fund. Ninety teachers out of 639 applicants (14%) and 34 districts out of 391 applicants (9%) received awards. You can see the list of awardees here.

“All across the country, teachers and districts are daring to redefine what it will mean to thrive in our interdependent and fast-changing world, elevating love, relationships, empathy, independent thinking and creativity,” said Jennifer Buffett, co-president of the NoVo Foundation. “We could not be more excited about these awardees, each of whom is a model for educators everywhere.”

Social and emotional earning (SEL) is the process of developing fundamental skills for life success within supportive, participatory learning environments. SEL skills include recognizing and managing emotions, developing caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships and making responsible decisions. These crucial capacities can be taught by classroom teachers to students of every background.

The Social Emotional Learning Innovation Fund offered up to $5,000 grant awards for teacher-led projects and $25,000 grant awards for district- or public charter school-led projects that span multiple schools in the 2018-19 school year. All recipients will have the opportunity to present their work to and connect with a group of national SEL practitioners, experts and advocates at a convening later this year.

The Innovation Fund sought proposals from individual educators, teams of educators and district leaders seeking to improve systems that foster social and emotional skills in fresh, inventive or innovative ways. Examples include novel interventions or instructional practices focused on improving competencies such as resilience, learning mindsets, compassion, self-management and sense of belonging.

“There is still much to learn about how to successfully implement SEL in our classrooms, and so innovation at the district and classroom levels is critical,” said Kelly James of Education First. “We’re excited to see the impact that these teacher and district projects have on kids.”

The Innovation Fund looked for proposals to create places, environments and practices that value belonging, well-being, tolerance, compassion, listening, non-violence, inclusiveness, working productively together and looking out for one another. Though all proposals were welcome, it also sought proposals that specifically support one or more of the following student populations:

  • Students from indigenous communities
  • New arrivals (such as refugees) or immigrants
  • English learners
  • LGBTQI students

The Innovation Fund launched in 2016. Over the past three years, it has given $2.3 million to teachers and districts.

About NoVo Foundation

The NoVo Foundation is dedicated to building a more just and balanced world. Created in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo seeks to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership. The Foundation partners with movement leaders working to advance adolescent girls’ rights, end violence against girls and women, promote social and emotional learning, support Indigenous communities and advance local living communities. Across all of its work, NoVo supports the development of capacities in people—individually and collectively—to help create a caring and balanced world.

About Education First

Education First is a national strategy and policy organization with unique and deep expertise in education improvement and reform. Our mission is to deliver exceptional ideas, experience-based solutions and results so all students – and particularly low-income students and students of color – are prepared for success in college, career and life. We envision a world in which every student is prepared to succeed—a world in which income and race no longer determine the quality of education. Learn more at education-first.com. 

About Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving. Headquartered in New York City, it traces its antecedents to John D. Rockefeller Sr., who in 1891 began to professionally manage his philanthropy “as if it were a business.” With thoughtful and effective philanthropy as its one and only mission, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has grown into one of the world’s largest philanthropic service organizations, having overseen more than $3 billion to date in grantmaking across the globe from four regional offices in the United States.