Updates from NoVo

Announcing the 2017 NoVo SEL Innovation Fund Award Winners

July 6, 2017 — Today Education First, NoVo Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors announced the winners of the Social Emotional Learning Innovation Awards. Nearly 500 teachers and over 300 districts across the country applied for an award, and 67 teachers and 30 districts were selected. The list of awardees is available here.

Social and Emotional Learning (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 projects that span multiple schools in the 2017-18 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 winning teachers and districts will receive a total of $1 million in grants to support their work. Teacher recipients represent 52 districts in 28 states, and district recipients hail from 22 states. The winning applications demonstrated the highest levels of innovation, commitment and need when it comes to improving students’ social and emotional competencies. They include a variety of school and district types—urban, suburban, rural; traditional public and charter—across all grade levels and student populations:

  • Students from indigenous communities
  • New arrivals (such as refugees) or immigrants
  • English learners
  • Students with significant adverse childhood experiences
  • Single-sex environments
  • Students with disabilities

“All across the country, school districts are beginning to recognize that a well-rounded education must be about more than higher test scores or rigid academic assessments,” said Jennifer Buffett, co-president of the NoVo Foundation. “These teachers and districts are showing us how to put this belief into action. They stand as a model for truly innovative social and emotional learning programs that will strengthen the lives of students far into the future.”

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, school and classroom levels is critical,” said Kelly James of Education First. “We’re excited to see the impact that these educators have on kids.”