Large Grant Brings Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs to Boston-area Schools

In November, two Boston-area hospitals announced plans to commit $1 million to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) in order to implement new social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in more than 20 local public schools. 

Partners HealthCare, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will aid the BPCH in developing an Open Circle program that will serve approximately 7,000 local K-8 students.

Open Circle, a Wellesley Centers for Women program at Wellesley College, has served more than 2 million young people since 1987, and is recognized by the U. S. Department of Education’s “Exemplary and Promising Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Programs Guidebook” and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

The curriculum entails homeroom meetings that will be conducted twice per week, with instructors helping students recognize and manage emotions through various in-class activities and discussions. Under the two-year grant, an estimated 750 teachers, principals and teaching assistants are expected to be trained for the program.

“Like many other large urban school districts in the country, Boston administrators and educators are concerned about suspension rates, dropout rates, and academic achievement challenges,” Open Circle Co-director Nova Biro said in a press release issued by the Wellesley Centers for Women. “Success depends as much on students’ social and emotional development as on their cognitive abilities and Open Circle can help improve these outcomes by providing teachers with evidence-based tools and techniques.”


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