Jenna Tomasello

Associate Director, The Hatcher Group


​​​​Jenna Tomasello helps build and execute events that advance education and other mission-driven initiatives.

​​​​Prior to joining The Hatcher Group, Jenna was a policy associate at the American Youth Policy Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan convening organization based in Washington, D.C., focused on education, workforce, and youth policy issues. In that role, Jenna developed various types of learning events and products, including Capitol Hill forums, study tours, discussion groups, webinars and publications. These events helped to frame issues, inform policy and convene conversations designed to improve education and the lives of traditionally underserved youth. 

​​Jenna is also the co-founder and board member of Learn Together, Live Together, a grassroots coalition of education stakeholders striving to promote diverse, equitable and inclusive schools. As a product of public schools and a first-generation college student, Jenna has always held a deep appreciation for education and the opportunities it has afforded her. Jenna has a background in philosophy and legal studies and holds a master’s degree in educational policy from the University of Rochester Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. 


Diversity and Inclusion – I believe we’re always stronger together. 

Educational Equity – I believe all students deserve equitable access to opportunity to achieve their full potential. 

​​​​Lifelong Learning – I believe in listening and learning from others, and continuously growing personally and professionally.​​​​

 Blog Posts



School-Community Collaborations Fuel Afterschool Success in CaliforniaGP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<br><br><p> <strong>​WF: </strong><strong>The pandemic has had a significant impact on the out-of-school time sector. What gives you hope and what keeps you up at night?</strong></p><p> <strong>JP</strong>: In a state where afterschool programs are heavily run through schools, that meant so many kids lost access to these essential services while schools were shut down last year. Our providers around the state were the ones that were opening up learning hubs for homeless kids, for English learners, for kids whose parents had no choice but to be at work. All of the difficult circumstances we know that kids went through, our folks stepped in to make sure kids got their meals, Wi-Fi devices and, in many cases, they just found places and ways to serve kids creatively. We and our partners documented and communicated a lot about these amazing efforts and our field got some overdue recognition. The big investments we are seeing now are partly a result of what people saw our field do during the pandemic, but it was also a result of decades of hard work by leaders in our field that positioned us for this moment.<strong></strong></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/School-Community-Collaborations-Fuel-Afterschool-Success-in-California/BACR-photo_IMG_3227.jpg" alt="BACR-photo_IMG_3227.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;width:269px;height:359px;" />In California, for example, on top of the <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now.aspx">federal investment</a> last spring, the state put in $4.6 billion in emergency COVID money just for expanded learning. Our half-a-billion-dollar investment in afterschool previously was by far the largest in the nation and now $4.6 billion was being pumped into this system, plus the federal money, and now even more state money that’s meant to be ongoing. I never thought I'd see a day when we got so much more investment than we even asked for. But we now have the opposite challenge, which is that there's <em>so</em> much money coming into the system all at once that there's little capacity to implement it effectively. We are very focused right now on trying to influence how  implementation happens based on everything we know from research and experience about quality, impactful program delivery. We are also very focused on documentation and storytelling. We must be constantly telling the story to policy leaders about the difference this investment can make for kids, so that we have a chance to sustain it over time. </p><p> <strong>WF: If you could wave a magic wand and make one policy change to impact students and youth, what would it be?</strong></p><p> <strong>JP</strong>: One thing that remains a gap that I hope is going to shift, is how we're supporting our community-based program providers. In California, the massive investment of expanded learning funds is all going through school systems, so schools are responsible for implementing programs. I understand the instinct around that by our state leaders because we want these services, supports and opportunities to be aligned with educational outcomes. However, it creates a power dynamic around the resources that plays out in ways that aren't necessarily beneficial to implementing quality programs at the local level. </p><p>In some places, our community-based organizations have much more experience and expertise at delivering high-quality expanded learning than our school systems do. Yet, it's up to the whims of the district around whether they're going to bring in a community-based partner and how much they're going to pay them or honor them for their time and work. I want to see a portion of this investment going directly to support our community-based sector. </p><p>And then, aligned with that in policy, I want to see more teeth around what is currently an encouragement of districts to collaborate with communities in this work. Current policy articulates that community partnerships are important; it tells school districts that they should be including community organizations of all kinds in their planning and implementation which is a great step, but there’s no requirement. That's something else I think needs to change.</p> <em>​​​​​Photos courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma-Marin and Bay Area Community Resources</em><br>​​​​<br><br>School-Community Collaborations Fuel Afterschool Success in California of influential nonprofit reflects on two decades of partnership and policymaking on behalf of children
Social and Emotional Learning in the SpotlightGP0|#890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667;L0|#0890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667|Social and Emotional Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​The s​ocial isolation students experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures has shined a spotlight on unmet social and emotional needs. Secretary Cardona noted social and emotional learning (SEL)<strong> </strong>as one of his <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/pandemic-recovery-must-address-equity-says-us-education-secretary.aspx">education priorities</a>, and even President Biden referenced students’ social and emotional health in his first State of the Union speech. </p><p>Researcher Stephanie Jones and her team at Harvard’s <a href="" target="_blank">EASEL Lab</a> have been studying how to build children’s social and emotional skills since well before the pandemic and have recently published an updated and expanded guide to evidence-based SEL programs, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-social-and-emotional-learning-from-the-inside-out.aspx"> <em>Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out</em></a>. The updated guide by Jones and her team at Harvard includes more programs overall, adding preschool programs into the mix; provides recommendations for adapting programs for out-of-school-time (OST) settings; and introduces new chapters on equitable and trauma-informed SEL. </p><p>In a new three-part podcast series, “<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-lets-talk-social-and-emotional-learning-(sel)-podcast.aspx">Let’s Talk Social and Emotional Learning</a><u>,</u>” Jones and her EASEL colleague Thelma Ramirez sat down with Wallace’s communications director Lucas Held to discuss the history and current landscape of SEL, high-quality SEL in practice and the intersection of SEL and equity, among other topics. </p><p>In the video clips here Jones breaks down some of the key topics in the updated SEL guide and its new components.​<br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 746bbfab-8118-4214-8fd3-4032bf4ece2b" id="div_746bbfab-8118-4214-8fd3-4032bf4ece2b"></div><div id="vid_746bbfab-8118-4214-8fd3-4032bf4ece2b" style="display:none;"></div></div>​​<h3>​​​ <strong>SEL for Pre-K</strong><strong></strong></h3><p>Teaching the whole child goes beyond traditional academics; it includes building and holding positive relationships, establishing trust and comfort and fostering feelings of safety and belonging. Jones explains how this starts as early as preschool and how SEL lessons taught in Pre-K can provide valuable lessons for other grades.</p> ​ <div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 6fc4848f-441b-4aac-869f-b3e2a5bdee88" id="div_6fc4848f-441b-4aac-869f-b3e2a5bdee88"></div><div id="vid_6fc4848f-441b-4aac-869f-b3e2a5bdee88" style="display:none;"></div></div>​​​ <h3> <strong>SEL in OST</strong><strong></strong></h3><p>Sports teams, music and theater clubs, student government and other OST programs are natural settings for children and youth to develop social and emotional skills. Jones highlights the importance of bridging students’ in-school and OST experiences and aligning SEL across both learning environments.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read fcfbfcc2-740f-4b52-ba92-d1243c348317" id="div_fcfbfcc2-740f-4b52-ba92-d1243c348317"></div><div id="vid_fcfbfcc2-740f-4b52-ba92-d1243c348317" style="display:none;"></div></div>​​ <h3> <strong>Trauma-Informed SEL</strong> <strong></strong></h3><p>As the pandemic continues and schools navigate a “new normal,” trauma-informed SEL is more important than ever. Educators are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure, and Jones reminds us that SEL is not just for children but is critical for adults’ social and emotional wellbeing as well. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read bca8f2da-95d5-4c7d-9e54-88ce1e8a0651" id="div_bca8f2da-95d5-4c7d-9e54-88ce1e8a0651"></div><div id="vid_bca8f2da-95d5-4c7d-9e54-88ce1e8a0651" style="display:none;"></div></div>​​​ <hr />​ <p>​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​To learn more about SEL, the SEL guide and its new components, tune in to the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-lets-talk-social-and-emotional-learning-(sel)-podcast.aspx">Let’s Talk Social and Emotional Learning</a> podcast series.<br></p><p> You can also download the SEL guide <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-social-and-emotional-learning-from-the-inside-out.aspx">here</a>. </p>Social and Emotional Learning in the Spotlight professor shares highlights to popular SEL guide in new podcast series