Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning: Elevating “EQ”

At SCE, we are investing considerable time growing our Social and Emotional Learning Program (SEL), a portfolio of initiatives aimed at shaping ecosystems that broaden and enrich opportunities for learning beyond academics and outside school walls. The SEL Program emphasizes emotional intelligence (EQ) and “non-cognitive” smarts as key drivers of life success.

Through both SEL and Digital Learning investments, SCE aims to influence the way markets function across fields and sectors to build out an infrastructure for anytime, anywhere 21st century learning.  Read on to find out more about where we started, what we’re learning, and how we’ve chosen to move  forward.

Our exploration into social and emotional learning began with an inquiry: why do some young people achieve success despite adversity? Are there pivotal moments or transformational experiences that shift young people’s trajectories toward success or failure? We wanted to discover what inputs along the pipeline propel vulnerable youth onto positive life paths, so we started investigating.

We engaged experts and practitioners in virtually every related field: researchers in various sectors of psychology, developmental science and applied youth development; policy leaders at institutions such as the American Institutes for Research and the National Research Council; and experts at advocacy organizations like the Forum for Youth Investment and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). We read dozens of books, articles, white papers and reports on topics ranging from neuroscience and early childhood literacy, to personality theory and economics.

Along the way, we discovered that the phenomenon we were interested in could not be distilled into a single experience, but was the result of a complex and nonlinear process of growth and positive adjustment throughout life, called thriving, and that it takes a network of supports and opportunities to help youth foster the skills they need to get there. Social and emotional skills, particularly empathy, resilience, grit, self-regulation, and agency—sometimes considered outcomes— were the very “inputs” for life success that our exploration set out to uncover.

We define social and emotional learning as the process through which people learn fundamental skills to recognize and manage their emotions and social relationships. Our SEL Program leverages the unique ability of informal learning pathways to structure experiences for teens in creative ways that encourage them to connect to positive futures.

SCE will soon be launching the first SEL Program initiative to partner with and invest in practitioners who are doing exceptional work with youth. Watch this space for up-to-date information about a forthcoming request for proposals.