Social and Emotional Learning

New Partnership with American Institutes for Research Will Help OST Organizations Understand Readiness to Implement SEL

Co-written by the Susan Crown Exchange and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

New developments in the out-of-school time (OST) field can benefit practitioners and youth alike. So why do youth-serving organizations sometimes struggle to implement initiatives that could improve their programs—and help young people thrive?

According to AIR, implementation readiness can be a major factor. Implementation readiness has been defined as the willingness (i.e., motivation) and capacity to implement an initiative with integrity and quality.

Determining whether an organization could benefit from a new initiative is one thing. Determining whether that organization is ready to launch that initiative is a different challenge entirely. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with AIR and the Wallace Foundation: a tool that will help OST organizations determine their readiness to implement social and emotional learning (SEL).

Image © BellXCel

With the support of SCE and the Wallace Foundation, AIR will build a free tool that enables users to (1) measure their readiness to implement new initiatives and (2) access resources and professional learning aligned with their level of readiness.

Over the next two years, AIR will embark on the following process to create and disseminate this tool:

  1. Establish and facilitate advisory group. Seeking input from across the OST field will inform the direction and improve the design of the tool. It will also create a ready-made group of ambassadors who can share the tool with the OST field who may be ready to measure readiness.
  2. Refine the model. In order to build a tool that helps organizations assess their own readiness, we need to first refine what “readiness” means. The idea of implementation readiness has caught on in other fields like health and defense, but what does it look like for OST organizations? AIR will conduct a literature review and scan of existing readiness models to pull out common practices and key themes, build on prior work to construct a model for readiness in OST.
  3. Review the model. AIR will present the draft model for review to the Advisory Board and to focus groups of OST practitioners, revising the model as necessary along the way.
  4. Build the tool. Leveraging extensive experience in survey design and self-assessment, AIR will develop a tool based on both the model and input from the advisory board and OST organizations. Once the tool is ready, AIR will pilot it among a select group of OST practitioners. Want to participate in the pilot? Email to connect with the AIR team.
  5. Move the tool online. An easy-to-access platform will allow each user to create an account, use the tool, receive a report, and access resources that are aligned with how ready they are.
  6. Compile existing resources. A single tool won’t ensure a successful implementation. While this new tool will be an excellent resource for organizations seeking to understand and build their own readiness, it is best used in conjunction with many other resources that already exist for OST organizations. Users will be able to learn more about these other resources alongside AIR’s tool on the online platform.
  7. Develop professional learning opportunities. AIR will host free webinars and provide trainings on topics including “readiness 101,” user guidelines for the tool, and an overview of the other resources on the platform.
  8. Disseminate the toolkit. AIR’s mission is to make research relevant; in this case, they’ll deliberately engage the diverse groups within the OST field that will benefit most from this tool.
Image © After-School All-Stars

SCE envisions a future where OST organizations nationwide can successfully implement SEL-informed programming that prepares youth to thrive. To make this future possible, those organizations must be able to understand and build readiness to implement SEL initiatives—and ensure they’ll be successful.

The tool AIR will develop will bring the OST field a big step closer to making that vision a reality. We’re proud to support this work.

Want to learn more about this partnership — and how you can gain access to this tool once it’s ready? Email the American Institutes for Research: