Effective social emotional learning (SEL) requires a thorough understanding of the student population’s needs, training to integrate SEL into everyday lessons, and the instructional resources. Although educators and education advocates acknowledge the importance of SEL, the funding has lagged behind. In the edWebinar, “Funding Social Emotional Learning: Where’s the Money?,” Dr. Rita Oates, president of Oates Associates, explained that money can be found for SEL, but teachers need to be ready to tackle the world of grants. While employing a professional grant writer can be advantageous, Oates offered advice for those who will be overseeing the process or who plan to go after the funding themselves.
First, she said that grant writing is like writing a piece of fiction—teachers are being asked to talk about their vision of the future. They should familiarize themselves with the different tenets of SEL and projects that have already worked. One potential resource is Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which features definitions of SEL, research, and best practices. Research on SEL is especially helpful as grant applicants will need to prove the efficacy of their approach. In addition, educators should assess the social-emotional needs of their target kids. Having an assessment will validate requests to potential funders.
After educators have assembled the background information, they need to look at the variety of funding options. There are several opportunities available from the federal government, such as IDEA (special education); Title I, Part A (the largest single grant through the federal government to school districts); and Title II, Part A (supporting effective instruction). Most of the federal funds are awarded to local education agencies and require a concentrated effort from constituents across the school district.