Press Release

America’s Promise Alliance Announces Effort to Raise Awareness and Catalyze Action around How Learning Happens

Effort will build on growing momentum to advance a whole child approach to learning and development, including the work of the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Washington, D.C. — Today, America’s Promise Alliance announced plans to advance the national conversation about How Learning Happens and highlight the importance of fostering young people’s development and well-being. The effort builds on multiple national and community-level efforts to prioritize the whole child, including the work of the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and its final report, A Nation at Hope, which offered recommendations for how schools and communities can reshape the way they approach learning.  

“The nation is at a turning point in understanding how young people learn and develop. Common sense, experience, and research have coalesced in a way that makes clear that learning is a social, emotional, and cognitive endeavor,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “Schools and communities across the country are building on this knowledge to accelerate learning and success by supporting the whole child, and we at America’s Promise Alliance want to raise awareness about the importance of these efforts and facilitate the connections and collaboration that will deepen and expand this work.”

The How Learning Happens outreach and engagement effort will activate America’s Promise’s network of more than 450 national and community Alliance members—many of which are currently working in communities and schools to support all aspects of child and youth development. By elevating and sharing their work, America’s Promise hopes to grow the movement among the public, education and community leaders, policymakers, and others to support young people’s well-being, learning, and comprehensive development. 

“As a longtime Alliance member committed to surrounding students with a community of support to help them thrive in school and in life, we are excited that America’s Promise is launching this effort,” said Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities In Schools. “We were a proud member of the National Commission’s Partners Collaborative, and we are thrilled to collaborate with America’s Promise to continue the momentum for creating the conditions and cultivating the relationships that will help our young people develop the array of skills they need to succeed now and in the future.”   

Through this effort, America’s Promise will deepen the collective understanding about how learning happens and develop language that its on-the-ground partners can use to explain the rationale for focusing on young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. This will include exploring and communicating about the role of cultural, racial, and economic background and identity in learning and development so that all children benefit from efforts to support their holistic development. 

America’s Promise will incorporate the learnings and insights of How Learning Happens into its existing campaigns and initiatives—from GradNation and Every School Healthy to the recently launched YES Project, which is focused on building a robust and thriving youth workforce. The Center for Promise—the research arm of America’s Promise—will listen to and learn about how young people, especially those growing up in challenging circumstances, think about their own development and well-being and the role that schools and other community efforts can play in meeting their needs. America’s Promise will collaborate with CASEL, the Forum for Youth Investment, the Learning Policy Institute, and the other organizations that are leading bodies of work in support of how learning happens.

“CASEL was founded on the conviction that the advancement of social and emotional learning depends on collaboration. We are eager to join forces with America’s Promise and its Alliance members to advance the growing national conversation around social, emotional, and academic learning,” said Karen Niemi, president and CEO of CASEL. “This work aligns perfectly with CASEL’s continuing focus on implementing systemic, evidence-based efforts to promote positive development of all young people, from preschool to high school.”

“I am looking forward to partnering with America’s Promise in this initiative,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute and co-chair of the National Commission. “The Learning Policy Institute is supporting a group of organizations that will enable states to create a set of “whole child” supports for social, emotional, and academic development. In partnership with America’s Promise’s awareness building and engagement efforts, we can create the conditions that communities and schools need to transform the way they help our young people learn and grow.”

Learn more at follow the conversation using #HowLearning Happens.  


America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. The Alliance brings together more than 450 national organizations and thousands of community leaders to focus the nation’s attention on young people’s lives and voices, lead bold campaigns to expand opportunity, conduct groundbreaking research on what young people need to thrive, and accelerate the adoption of strategies that help young people succeed.