This report presents cross-cutting lessons from a set of case studies detailing how schools and out-of-school-time (OST) programs in six communities have worked together to build students’ social and emotional (SEL) skills. The communities are participants in a Wallace initiative that has supported elementary schools and their OST partners in incorporating SEL activities and instruction into both the school and OST parts of the day.

For five of the case studies, researchers selected a partnership in each community that has done an exemplary job of addressing one of a series of challenges widely shared by participants in the initiative. In one of the cases, the partnership between the school and its OST programs was in an early stage of development, so the researchers focused on what took place during the school day. The case studies explore:

  • developing a brand-new school-OST partnership focusing on SEL (Boston),
  • developing an effective SEL committee that includes a school and OST partner (Dallas),
  • finding and jointly prioritizing time for SEL in the school and afterschool schedules (Denver),
  • engaging teachers, staff members and parents in SEL (Palm Beach County, Fla.​),
  • incorporating equity into SEL (Tacoma), and
  • focusing on adult SEL first (Tulsa). 

The report summarizes the case studies and discusses nine factors that facilitated progress in carrying out SEL programs and practices, each of which was common to at least two of the cases:

  1. Committed school/OST program leaders were the foundation on which SEL work was built.
  2. SEL committees guided and supported implementation.
  3. Prioritizing time for SEL in school and OST schedules was important to making implementation routine.
  4. Starting the efforts by building adults’ social and emotional skills proved central.
  5. Short SEL rituals w​ere often the first and most widely adopted strategy, setting the stage for more extended SEL instruction.
  6. Establishing trusting relationships enhanced the collaboration on SEL in school-OST program partnerships.
  7. Formal, written SEL resources facilitated a consistent approach within and across settings.
  8. Distributing “ownership” of SEL across staff members and students increased people’s buy-in to the effort and its sustainability.
  9. Experience with SEL before the pandemic helped schools and OST programs adapt to COVID-19 disruptions.​​​



Points of Interest

  • Many schools and out-of-school-time programs working together to promote students’ social and emotional learning found it was important to start by building teachers’ and other adults’ social and emotional skills, a study finds.
    Study: Schools and OST programs found it important to build adults’ social and emotional skills before focusing on student SEL.
  • Short rituals like morning meetings and mindfulness exercises were the strategy schools and OST programs participating in a RAND Corporation study adopted most widely to embed social and emotional learning in their students’ day, setting the stage for more extensive instruction.
    Schools and OST partners looking to embed SEL in students’ day often started with short rituals and built from there, a RAND study finds.
  • Schools and out-of-school-time programs in the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative found they needed to build relationships and trust among their staff in order to effectively collaborate on student SEL.
    Trust and solid staff relationships were key for schools and OST programs working together on student social and emotional learning.

Supplementary Materials