Youth Development: Professional Development Around SEL

children together wearing masks at the Y

Recognizing that the Y is largest nonprofit serving kids in the out of school time space, the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) asked the NC Alliance of YMCAs to apply for CDC Healthy Schools funding funneled to the state for character development and social emotional learning (SEL).
DPI awarded the Alliance a $156,000 grant that enables us to provide professional development for youth-serving staff to support them in integrating SEL into our youth programming, and that work is kicking off this month. 

With a portion of the funding, the Alliance invested in a statewide Hello Insight (HI) contract; HI is a YUSA recognized partner in measuring SEL outcomes. The balance of the funds will be provided to participating Ys for reimbursement of staff time for participating in training, peer cohort meetings, delivery of SEL content and continuous SEL improvements. 

With the HI contract in place, Ys will be able to conduct staff pre-assessments to identify priority training needs, as well as youth pre-assessments for children in grades 3-5 to collect baseline data. Then the Alliance will host three training sessions, based on the needs identified by Y staff, and convene peer networking meetings to help support YMCA youth staff in integrating a continuous process of SEL delivery improvement. Late in the school year, staff and youth will participate in the post-assessment to measure the outcomes.

This collaborative work provides a unique opportunity for statewide data around the Y’s impact on youth with SEL that can potentially be leveraged for further funding opportunities and cases for giving.

Research shows that SEL improves academic outcomes and behaviors, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety in the short-term, and has long-term benefits recognized by educators, parents, policymakers, employers and youth themselves. 
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our youth are in dire need of SEL support. This grant provides an exciting opportunity to provide professional development for our Y staff while increasing positive outcomes for the children in our care. This work also supports one of the Alliance’s Strategic Plan priorities: Build resilience in North Carolina youth, contributing to the state’s “whole child” objectives.