Social Emotional Learning

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Social-Emotional Learning
Teaching and learning practices that build Social Emotional Learning (SEL) can impact adolescent appreciation of philanthropy. Developing stronger social-emotional skills as an adolescent can impact the likelihood that one is more likely to participate in charitable or philanthropic behavior as an adult.

by Mandy Priest


SEL is the process through which children acquire and apply knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (Casel, 2017).


Historic Roots

Preparing children to be responsible, productive, caring, and engaged citizens is a timeless pursuit that continues to be the goal of education today. In the 1960s, Yale researcher James Comer studied the relationship between a student’s experiences at home and school and how those experiences affect academic achievement. This research resulted in the creation of the Comer Process. The Comer Process was to help students engage in learning by nurturing compassionate relationships between students, parents, and educators (Meaghan Dunham). Comer’s research marked an important milestone for SEL in schools, opening the door for other organizations, researchers, and policymakers to help shape what SEL is today.

In 1997 the organization, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), was founded and set the foundation for comprehensive and coordinated SEL programming in schools.



Research shows that SEL not only improves achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but it also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students (Durlak et al., 2011). There direct connection between the skills taught in SEL programs and academic achievement, positive behavior, and healthier life choices. These learned skills allow adolescents to develop more positive attitudes toward oneself, others, and tasks including enhanced self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, empathy, connection and commitment to school, and a sense of purpose.


Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The skills being taught for SEL directly correlate to the traits of a generous or philanthropic person. The eight SEL skills for children to develop, according to DESSA System Assessment Tool, are self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills, goal-directed behavior, personal responsibility, decision-making, and optimistic thinking. According to Ariixeditor, the key characteristics of generous people that set them apart from the rest are; they are caring, have no expectations, are optimistic, have humility, are patient, have purpose, are energetic, possess leadership qualities.

Some of us are highly motivated to help those in need, while others couldn’t care less and strongly object to giving money or volunteering time in the service of others. Generous/Philanthropic people are wired to give as much as possible. The specific characteristics that set these people apart from others are the same important characteristics children today can be learning. According to the study, published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, earning and saving money isn't as important as getting your kids involved with fundraising activities at as early an age as possible. The research suggests that family socialization doesn't just influence our own generosity in terms of how much we donate; there also seems to be a correlation between this learned behavior and a child's personal well-being.


Important People Related to the Topic

  • Joseph A Durlak; Professor Emeritus of Loyola University Chicago. Research focusin Prevention, and Social and Emotional Learning
  • Maurice Elias, Ph.D.; Professor of Psychology, Rutgers; Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Co-Director, Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service; Co-Director, Academy for SEL in Schools
  • Daniel Goleman; CASEL co-founder, author of Emotional Intelligence
  • Mark T. Greenberg; Penn State University, Founding Director of The Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development.


Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is transforming American education through social and emotional learning through collaboration with leading experts and support districts, schools, and states nationwide to drive research, guide practice, and inform policy.
  • The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is uniting leaders to re-envision what constitutes success in schools. With the help of teachers, parents, and students in communities across the country, the Commission will explore how schools can fully integrate social, emotional, and academic development to support the whole student.
  • Committee for Children is best known for the development of innovative social-emotional learning curriculum. Their programs blend research and rigor with intuitive design, empowering children with skills to help them realize their goals in the classroom and throughout their lives.


Reflection Question

SEL helps children manage their emotions, set and achieve goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Does introducing SEL impact or influence the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money and/or time to good causes?



  • CASEL. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Learning to Give: Social Emotional Learning in Community
  • Lebaron, A. B. (2019). The Socialization of Financial Giving: A Multigenerational Exploration. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 40(4), 633–646.
  • McGraw-Hill. (2019, February 15). 5 Guiding Principles of Social and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from
  • Person. (2011, October 7). Social and Emotional Learning: A Short History. Retrieved from
  • Social Emotional Learning Innovation Fund. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • The Missing Piece: A History of SEL in Schools. (2019, January 29). Retrieved from