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New energy, new evidence, and an emerging consensus on how learning happens have created a remarkable opportunity to galvanize widespread adoption of a whole child approach. However, messages about how learning happens are often obscured by confusion over terminology, weakening the field’s overall ability to tell a compelling story about social, emotional, and cognitive development. The narrative about learning must reflect the reality that learning is a social, emotional, and cognitive process for each and every young person—a process that is affected by their identities, relationships, circumstances, and a host of other academic and non-academic factors. Additionally, our narrative about learning must become more intentionally youth-centered, equity-focused, and actively anti-racist.

The purpose and contribution of this document is to provide a shared messaging framework as a starting point for communicating about how learning happens. Our view is that a strong, coherent narrative can help the youth-supporting field come together, align our work toward a common purpose, and move toward the day when a whole child mindset is a well-accepted, widely-adopted model of approaching all work with children and youth.

We envision this tool as a living document, and have published it in Word format so it can be easily shared and repurposed to accommodate each individual and/or organization’s communication needs. We anticipate sharing additional messaging tools and resources in the future, so stay tuned for more!