Press Release

America’s Promise Alliance Announces Grants for Five Communities to Support Young People’s Social, Emotional, Cognitive Growth and Development

Convenings will focus on supporting and engaging youth, promoting equity, and inspiring action across diverse communities

WASHINGTON – America’s Promise Alliance today announced $150,000 in new grants to support local communities across the nation in advancing young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive development both in and out of school.

America’s Promise Alliance is awarding the grants to five organizations that will each convene a broad array of local stakeholders to build on existing efforts and inspire action around how learning happens for young people in their communities. The communities were selected from a competition sponsored by America’s Promise’s How Learning Happens work, which builds on multiple national and community-level efforts, including those of the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

“Communities across the country are taking the lead in supporting the whole young person—addressing social, emotional, and cognitive well-being and success. We are proud to lift up the work of these diverse organizations to advance our collective understanding about how learning happens and identify what is needed to help young people thrive in all areas of their lives,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “The convenings are an intentional step to take these communities’ efforts to the next level and inspire connection among local partners while responding to their distinct equity needs and authentically engaging young people.”

The Alliance received more than 150 applications for the $30,000 grants, which will support the planning and execution of convenings through April 2020. The five selected communities are:

Children’s Institute (Rochester, N.Y.) The Whole Child Connection at Children’s Institute, a cross-sector collaboration, will work with partners including the city’s STRIVE initiative, ROC the Future, Greater Rochester Afterschool Alliance, Healthi Kids, and the Greater Rochester Health Foundation to plan the convening and follow-up action steps. The focus will be on deepening community-building work to improve the education system, unite cross-sector partners to support whole child development with an emphasis on social and emotional learning, and improve the quality of out-of-school time programs for students ages 5 to 18.

Nashville Public Library Foundation (Nashville, Tenn.) Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA), which is housed in the Nashville Public Library and supported by the Nashville Public Library Foundation, is a nationally recognized partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools, the mayor’s office, and more than 20 other youth-serving organizations. NAZA, in partnership with a Vanderbilt research team and community stakeholders, is developing a framework that will capture outcomes at the youth level to help the broader community cultivate opportunities for young people to develop various sets of skills in out-of-school settings, with tools, support services, and professional development. The framework will be presented at the convening, and youth, families, and youth-serving professionals will recommend pathways for future action. The convening will focus on the conditions that need to be in place for young people to thrive and will launch a community effort designed to foster those conditions.

Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco (San Francisco) The group has a 20-year history of bringing diverse stakeholder voices to decisions affecting families and students. For its 2020 Annual General Meeting, PPS-SF plans to bring together parents and caregivers, students, the San Francisco Unified School District, partners from San Francisco Community Beacons, and multicultural community organizations to share experiences and build collective understanding and shared goals around what it means to support students’ social and emotional development and build healthy and supportive school climates in which all students thrive.

Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Transforming Education (Boston) The nonprofit organizations are partnering with the Boston Public Schools to align the district’s social and emotional learning (SEL) work with its Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) Framework. The Rennie Center, Transforming Education, and Boston Public Schools will focus on convening students and families to bring their voices into the conversation and drive this work forward. Goals include ensuring that social and emotional learning is equity-oriented and serves all students, building staff members’ self-awareness about unconscious beliefs that affect attitudes toward students, and developing a plan for school-level coaching to integrate equity-oriented SEL into teachers’ daily practice.

Spartanburg Academic Movement (Spartanburg, S.C.) Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) coordinates the focus and work of leaders in the nonprofit, business, government and civic sectors in partnership with the County’s seven urban and rural school districts to ensure economic mobility for students, anchored in academic achievement. SAM tracks outcomes from kindergarten readiness to college completion, engaging partners to provide support to ensure student success. Using the results of “listening sessions,” where young people expressed the desire for more high-quality programs during out-of-school time, the convening will focus on building a new collaborative that can improve adolescents’ access to positive youth-development programs that support their social, emotional, and academic growth and address barriers to participating in these opportunities.

America’s Promise Alliance has collaborated with several partners—among them, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; the Forum for Youth Investment; the Learning Policy Institute; and the Science of Learning and Development Project—on various elements of its How Learning Happens work, including the review of the community grant applications. America’s Promise will work closely with each of the community grantees to provide connections to speakers, research, data, and examples and strategies from these and other partners that reflect a diverse body of knowledge and are matched to the convening communities’ interests and needs. America’s Promise also will prepare an after-action report that summarizes what was learned from the convenings.

Funders of How Learning Happens include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, NoVo Foundation, Pure Edge, Raikes Foundation, Sanford Programs at National University, and The Wallace Foundation.


America’s Promise Alliance is the driving force behind a nationwide movement to improve the lives and futures of America’s youth. Its work is anchored in the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult is responsible for making that happen. By bringing together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens, and young people, the Alliance does what no single organization can do on its own: catalyze action on a scale that reaches millions of young people.