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Talking to Parents about Social and Emotional Learning10328GP0|#890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667;L0|#0890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667|Social and Emotional Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​Whenever we publish a blog post or report in our Knowledge Center on <a href="/knowledge-center/social-and-emotional-learning/pages/default.aspx">Social and Emotional Learning</a> (SEL), our digital channels buzz with interest. Much of the insights and information we’ve gathered has centered around in- and out-of-school programs that help children build the skills they need to succeed academically and in life. Now, an organization called Learning Heroes is bringing parents into the equation. </p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Bibb-Headshot.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Talking-to-Parents-about-Social-and-Emotional-Learning-/Bibb-Headshot.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;280px;" />Founded by communications and policy veteran Bibb Hubbard, Learning Heroes seeks to inform and equip parents and guardians with tools and ideas, so they can support their children’s educational and developmental success. A big part of the organization’s work to date involves connecting parents and others in the field to resources, which can be found at the nonprofit’s website&#58; <a href="https&#58;//bealearninghero.org/" target="_blank">www.BeALearningHero.org</a>. </p><p>Learning Heroes recently published a report to help schools and organizations communicate with parents about SEL. The report<em>, </em> <a href="https&#58;//bealearninghero.org/parent-mindsets/" target="_blank"> <em>Developing Life Skills in Children&#58; A Road Map for Communicating with Parents</em></a>, has a lot to say about the language of SEL, or what parents more comfortably call “life skills,” and draws on findings from Edge Research, the same firm that conducted Wallace’s 2016 research on the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/sel-feedback-and-communications-insights-from-the-field.aspx">linguistic landscape surrounding SEL terminology</a>. In addition to the current Learning Heroes report, Hubbard says, the organization is co-developing with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development a communications playbook that will help translate the findings and offer additional tools for people in the field. We spoke to Hubbard about the research and the important role parents play in SEL development. </p><p> <strong>The&#160;​new report focuses on research you recently conducted to help practitioners communicate with K-8 parents about the development of social, emotional, cognitive and academic skills in their children.&#160; Why is the focus on parents important? </strong></p><p>We’re now entering a unique moment, where there is greater awareness and acceptance of the fact that learning has social, emotional, cognitive and academic dimensions. As a result, school systems and out-of-school programs are thinking in explicit, intentional ways about how to teach these skills at home, at school&#160;and in after-school settings. But if these efforts are to succeed, practitioners need to join forces with parents, who see themselves as primarily responsible for their children’s education. In particular, our hope is for practitioners to seek guidance and input from parents, as they are the experts on their own children. Further, as practitioners orient parents to instructional approaches that might be new or different from what they experienced as students, it underscores the impact these approaches will have on their children.</p><p> <strong>When the research came back what was most surprising about the way that parents viewed SEL? And can you give a couple of examples of how this influenced your report?</strong></p><p>Parents think the development of these skills and traits are important for their child’s overall development. I was not surprised that parents do not understand some of the “edu-jargon” used to describe different skills and traits, even though they support many of the underlying concepts. I was surprised, however, to find that even words practitioners may think of as innocuous, like “curiosity” or “resilience,” can have negative connotations for parents. For example, middle school parents, in particular, worry about their children being curious about the wrong things, especially because of peer pressure. And many parents want to shield their children from the types of negative experiences that might require resilience. So how we talk about social, emotional and academic learning in ways that translate for parents became a big focus of our report.</p><p> <strong>The report speaks not just about SEL but addresses a wider range of “social, emotional, cognitive and academic” skills or traits. Why did you broaden the scope?</strong></p><p> <a href="https&#58;//www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/evidence-base-learn/" target="_blank">Research has found</a> that the social, emotional, cognitive and academic dimensions of learning are deeply connected. Moreover, in focus groups, parents prioritized a wide range of skills across these dimensions and that was confirmed in the nationally representative survey of parents. We wanted to be true to both what the science tells us, as reflected in the range of skills incorporated into various frameworks, and to what families want for their children.</p><p> <strong>Talking about language, what did you learn about the language people use to describe SEL skills? What does this mean for communication with parents?</strong></p><p>“Life skills” is the term parents prefer to describe the skills and traits that they identify as most important for their children to develop. They prefer this term (31%) over “social, emotional and academic development,” “character development” and “social and emotional learning,” by at least 2-to-1. Some of the reasons they give are that it’s “simple,” “all encompassing” and describes the skills people use “every day in life, schools, jobs and family.” Our advice is to use language parents understand to build bridges to more technical terms. We also found that parents respond very positively to videos that provide real-life examples of what integrating social, emotional, cognitive and academic development can look like in practice.</p><p> <strong>It seems from the research that parents, for the most part, believe SEL skills are essential but many think they should be taught at home with reinforcement from schools, which leads to a lot of concern about schools rating or assessing their children on SEL. How should schools, districts and others talk to parents about this concern? </strong></p><p>Two important findings from our survey are that parents view home as the place where these skills should primarily be “taught” and schools as the place where they are “reinforced.” Second, while they fully expect to partner with schools, they don’t want schools to overstep their role. The line in the sand is around measurement and accountability. More than a third of parents worry about their child being labeled for life (35%) or graded (34%) on skills that they view as too subjective or personal to measure. In fact, only 16% indicate it would be helpful to get a separate grade on their child’s report card to understand their progress on these skills. Instead, parents are eager to hear from teachers about how their child is doing in the form of parent-teacher conferences, folder notes, emails and more regular communications, particularly if there’s a problem. </p><p> <strong>What does an effective partnership between teachers and parents look like? What are some pitfalls teachers and schools should try to avoid? </strong></p><p> Because parents feel deeply responsible for their children’s well-being and success in school and in life, it’s important to respect their authority as their children’s primary advocates—after all, parents know their children best. If practitioners approach this work as a true partnership by sharing new ideas and approaches, eliciting the specific skills that matter most to parents&#160;and understanding what those skills might look like in the context of local communities and cultures, rather than trying to convince parents certain skills are more important than others through a communications campaign, they’ll get much farther.</p>Wallace editorial team792018-07-19T04:00:00ZNew report from Learning Heroes seeks to help schools and organizations better communicate with parents7/24/2018 8:59:32 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Talking to Parents about Social and Emotional Learning New report from Learning Heroes seeks to help schools and 1671https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
New and Improved Financial Tools Help Nonprofits Stay Nimble10301GP0|#af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e;L0|#0af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e|Advancing Philanthropy;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Recently, Hilda Polanco, founder and CEO of the consulting firm <a href="http&#58;//fmaonline.net/">Fiscal Management Associates</a> (FMA), talked to us about changes she’s seen over the years in the way nonprofit organizations approach their financial responsibilities. She noted that nonprofits are increasingly accepting the idea that financial planning is a “process that never ends,” one that calls for a nimble response to shifting winds and bumps in the road.</p><p>It’s no surprise then that <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/pages/default.aspx">Strongnonprofits.org</a>, the website&#160;we created with&#160;FMA five years ago to help organizations build their financial know-how, has also changed to meet their evolving needs. We asked John Summers, director of consulting services at FMA, to walk us through some of the site’s latest features and updates.*</p><p><strong>What is your process for updating the site? How do you determine when a feature needs updating or there’s a need for a new feature? </strong></p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="jsummers_portrait_72square.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/jsummers_portrait_72square.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />We get feedback from users that will suggest a modification of an existing tool or a totally new tool. They’ll say, “Do you have something that can do X?” Then there’s our own practice. We’re consultants working with nonprofit organizations every day. So, if there’s something we put together for one of our consulting clients or someone we’re doing outsourced accounting for, and it seems like it would be widely applicable, that can become a tool on Strongnonprofits. </p><p><strong>What is the new or updated feature on the site that you’d most like to highlight?</strong><br> <br> Cash flow projection is one of the backbones of financial management in any organization. The <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/Pages/Cash-Flow-Projections-Template.aspx">cash flow projection tool</a> on the site was originally a 12-month calendar, but the modifications we made allow users to update it each month, so they can see how much they have actually spent and what remains in their budget and have a better sense as the year goes on of what their cash position is going to be and answer questions like, “Are we going to have enough when we need it?”</p><p><strong>You’ve created narrative guides to show how individual features of the site can be used in combination. What is the advantage of using the tools this way?</strong></p><p>If you’re doing some annual task like budget development, there’s pretty close to a comprehensive package of budget development tools on the site. The <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/pages/topic-area-guide.aspx">narrative guide</a> is an attempt to pull those together and give an outline&#58; If you use these tools in this order that’s going to help you produce your organization’s budget, from figuring out who should be involved in the process all the way through planning your expenses, planning your revenue, looking at cash flow, presenting it to the board. There are resources for each step that, together, can be a do-it-yourself guide to budget development. We’ve got guides for budget development, auditing, financial reporting.<br> <br> <strong>Is there anything else that regular users of the site should keep an eye out for the next time they visit? </strong></p><p>We’re not finished. Within the next few months, there will be new tools on there, including a tool to establish operating reserves. Just keep checking back.</p><p>*<em>This interview has been edited and condensed.</em></p> Wallace editorial team792018-01-04T05:00:00ZNew and Improved Tools to Help Nonprofits Build Their Financial Know-How4/4/2018 3:54:12 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / New and Improved Financial Tools Help Nonprofits Stay Nimble Updated Website Features “Do-It-Yourself Guide” to Budget 305https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
A New Year’s Resolution for Nonprofits: Get ‘Fiscally Fit’10294GP0|#af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e;L0|#0af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e|Advancing Philanthropy;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>It’s never too early (or too late!) to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. For many nonprofit organizations, getting a better handle on finances will top the list.</p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/pages/default.aspx">Strongnonprofits.org</a> is a Wallace Foundation website designed to help nonprofits do exactly that.&#160; It offers more than 60 tools, how-tos, articles and other features to help organizations build their financial muscle so they can fulfill their missions and deliver the best services possible.</p><p>We talked to Hilda Polanco, founder and CEO of <a href="http&#58;//fmaonline.net/">Fiscal Management Associates</a> (FMA), the consulting firm that created and maintains the site, about changes in the way nonprofits approach their finances and how they can get “fiscally fit” in the upcoming year.*</p><p><strong>Do you see a change in the way nonprofits approach financial management since Strongnonprofits.org launched several years ago?</strong></p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="hpolanco.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Hilda-Polanco-Strong-Nonprofits-QA/hpolanco.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />In the last few years—and this has been heightened in the last year—the focus has been first and foremost on planning. Organizations are trying to take control of their destiny by having the right financial information. Four areas have become extremely critical. The first is an organization’s ability to understand the full cost of delivering their programs. The second is scenario planning, projecting into the future and thinking about multiple options. The third is managing cash flow. In so many states, payments are being delayed and organizations have gone through their reserves since 2008. The last one is the idea of planning as a process that never ends. Organizations, especially the ones that are successful and scaling, do a five-year strategic plan and put it on the shelf. But stuff changes. The days when boards would say, “the budget is the budget, and it never changes”—that’s not realistic anymore. We have to be more than just sustainable; we have to be resilient.</p><p><strong>What tools and templates on the site have been the most popular with users? What are the greatest needs that the site can help nonprofits address?</strong></p><p>The number one most popular tool is the <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/Pages/Program-Based-Budget-Template.aspx">program-based budget builder</a>. It can help organizations quantify their costs in a way they can present in their development proposals and articulate when they negotiate performance-based contracts. The second is the <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/Pages/Cash-Flow-Projections-Template.aspx">cash flow template</a>. I call it the “executive director’s navigation tool” because it gives organizations the ability to project cash flow into the future, manage it and know when they’re going into danger territory. The third is the <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/pages/funding-opportunity-assessment-tool.aspx">“go/no go” tool</a>, which brings together teams to decide should we go for this [funding] opportunity or not. The site is helpful to organizations of all sizes, but for organizations that don’t have a full finance staff these tools have been transformational because they give them the ability to do some pretty complicated thinking.</p><p><strong>Are there any overlooked features of the site that you’d like to encourage users to take greater advantage of?</strong></p><p>One that I like a lot is the <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/pages/revenue-analysis-worksheet.aspx">scenario-planning tool</a>. It’s simple. The thing with scenarios is that if you get too complex people get confused.</p><p><strong>Is there anything about the way you work with nonprofits to build financial strength that has changed over the years?</strong></p><p>Each year we work more and more with the senior management team rather than only the finance team, building their capacity to make better decisions, better plans, while also building the capacity of individuals, so that if one person leaves, the structure is there, the next person comes right into their role, and the organization continues. In that context, we’ve also spent more time working with program leaders to make them owners of their budgets and with development leaders, so they can provide better information in the proposals they send out the door and better understand the consequences of the funds they’re raising. Another area where we’re getting frequent requests for help is establishing a board-designated operating reserve. Boards want to make sure they have funds set aside for unexpected events. I find it encouraging that they’re thinking about that.</p><p><strong>What is the most important piece of advice you have for nonprofits looking to improve their financial outlook?</strong></p><p>Face the data. Think about the processes, frameworks, work flows you have in place. Are these systems giving you the information you need to make strategic decisions about current needs as well as the long term? Build your planning muscle. When I ask an organization if they revise their budget, sometimes they look at me and say, “There’s no way I’m doing that again.” If your processes are painful, you don’t have the right tools. Don’t think of planning as compliance, think of it as an opportunity for making the smartest choices. Finally, solidify the partnership between the board and leadership. The world is throwing curveballs. Have the courage to envision what it would be like to respond to a significant shift in your revenue, and as a result, be better prepared.</p><p>*<em>This interview has been edited and condensed.</em></p>Wallace editorial team792017-12-14T05:00:00ZMust-Read Advice From a Nonprofit Financial Management Consultant12/14/2017 10:12:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / A New Year’s Resolution for Nonprofits: Get ‘Fiscally Fit Advice From Fiscal Management Associates’ Hilda Polanco 188https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Proper Financial Management Helps Nonprofits Improve Efficiency10271GP0|#af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e;L0|#0af3e9879-f65e-40d3-8cc6-25ef5b2f858e|Advancing Philanthropy;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Most nonprofits would agree that good financial management is essential for their success and growth. But many small organizations lack the resources and skills necessary to create a healthy financial infrastructure. </p><p> In response to this growing need, we commissioned Fiscal Management Associates, a consulting firm, to create a website that would help nonprofits strengthen their financial management and provide a number of easy to use templates and resources. The title of the site is, appropriately, <a href="/knowledge-center/Resources-for-Financial-Management/Pages/default.aspx"> www.strongnonprofits.org</a>.</p><p> The genesis of the site arose from our work with 26 afterschool programs in Chicago, where it became clear that many of the organizations struggled with financial management. As our president Will Miller told the Wall Street Journal&#58; “It became a theme that the lack of understanding of the financial realities of their own organizations was one of the things impeding them from being sustainable, successful, mission-fulfilling nonprofits.” </p><p> Looking to help train nonprofit organizations become “fiscally fit,” Strong Nonprofits contains a library of resources compiled in partnership with Fiscal Management Associates, which highlight four key elements of strong financial management&#58; planning, monitoring, operations and governance. For each of these elements the site offers a variety of articles, resources and tools.</p><p> <em>The Chronicle of Philanthropy</em> has highlighted the site’s <em> </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/Pages/Funding-Opportunity-Assessment-Tool.aspx"> <em>Go or No Go questionnaire</em></a><em>,</em> which aims to help nonprofits decide whether or not go through with a proposed contract. This questionnaire serves as a good example of the many interactive tools available on the site. Also popular are the <em> Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator</em> and the <em> Program Based Budget Builder</em> that allows nonprofit staff to allocate their spending by program and personnel. </p><p>The demand for these resources speaks volumes about need. The Strong Nonprofits resources consistently rank among our top monthly downloads. And two of our most downloaded publications of all time, the <em>Program Based Budget Builder</em> and <em> </em> <em>A Five-Step Guide to Budget Development,</em> have accumulated 72,373 and 60,387 downloads, respectively, since they were published in February, 2013. Ultimately, what makes Strong Nonprofits so exciting beyond its ‘nuts and bolts’ subject matter, is its testimony to our research approach. Here, our afterschool work uncovered a gap in financial knowledge across many organizations, which led us to create additional tools and resources to fill this gap. </p>Wallace editorial team792017-09-21T04:00:00ZWallace Foundation’s Financial Management website offers tools and research to help nonprofits manage their money12/4/2017 4:39:21 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Proper Financial Management Helps Nonprofits Improve Efficiency Wallace Foundation’s Financial Management website offers 130https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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