Call for Community Conveners on How Learning Happens

Joyful children
Program Purpose

Call for Community Conveners on How Learning Happens

Join the national and local movement to advance young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. America’s Promise is seeking five community conveners to inspire action on how learning happens. Research and experience show that young people are best prepared for life when their environments account for the social, emotional, and academic dimensions of learning. America’s Promise will select five communities that are already working to address young people’s comprehensive development and are poised to extend those efforts through intentional cross-sector collaboration. Each community will be awarded $30,000 to support planning and execution of the convening.  



Science backs up what parents, educators, and communities have long known: learning is social, emotional, and cognitive. The most powerful learning happens when we pay attention to all of these aspects – not separately, but woven together, just like how our brains work. Leaders at schools and community organizations serve youth from math class to athletics, from health centers to after-school programs. Each program, curriculum, or approach has the potential to support all the dimensions of learning. But what would it take to support young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive development with intention and alignment in all the places where young people learn?

While the body of research and practice have come together to increase what we know about how learning happens, much more needs to be done to make sure that knowledge is useful to communities and to match action with what young people say they need. That work must start and end in the communities themselves.

Dimensions of how learning happens


Each convening should be anchored in community and youth needs. The ideal host convener is an organization trusted in the community to represent and honor its young people and with the capacity to effectively gather a cross-sector planning team and convening participants. Examples of eligible conveners include but are not limited to school districts, schools, youth-serving non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, Native Tribal institutions, municipal agencies, and businesses.



America’s Promise will support convenings that meet three purposes: 

  1. Share knowledge about how learning happens 
  2. Inspire action and connection across the community 
  3. Identify 2-3 opportunities on which the community is poised to act 

Because learning looks and feels different in different communities, each convening should be anchored in community and youth needs. As a result, while community context should drive community action, there are a few parameters for each convening.

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While community context should drive community action, each convening must: 

  1. Drive toward action for the community’s young people anchored in the fact that learning is social and emotional.  
  2. Occur between October 2019 and April 2020 for at least one day.  
  3. Include representation from cross-sector perspectives, including but not limited to education, out of school programs, health, workforce, social services, justice, faith, and community organizations.  
  4. Draw enough cross-sector participation in the convening, including young people, to facilitate meaningful knowledge sharing and action planning.  
  5. Reflect and honor the community’s diversity in population, historical context, young people, and assets.
  6. Begin with a needs and opportunity assessment in advance of the convening to inform a community action plan after the convening. 

America’s Promise will support conveners with connections to speakers, research and data, and examples and strategies that reflect a diverse body of knowledge and are matched to the convening communities’ interests and needs. This knowledge includes topics such as the science of learning and development, promising practices for supporting young people’s comprehensive development in various learning environments, and policies and processes that create the conditions for how learning happens.



America’s Promise will award $30,000 to five communities to each host one convening. Please note that some conveners may need to secure in kind funding or support, as needed.

Selected communities will be assigned a point person at America’s Promise responsible for connecting the convener with a range of resources for content, expertise, and practice. America’s Promise staff will work with each convener to ensure the convening meets the purpose and parameters outlined above.

Each selected community will be asked to conduct a brief needs assessment during the planning process, anchored in the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning, and youth needs. After the convening, each community will be asked to develop an after-action plan based on the needs assessment and actions identified in the convening.

If selected, each convener will join the America’s Promise learning and action community, a cohort of conveners and communities across the country who are acting to change learning environments to reflect the fact that learning is social and emotional.

Grants: We will award a grant of $30,000 to each of the five conveners. Please note that some conveners may need to secure in kind funding or support, as needed.

Application Materials: Please fill out the below questionnaire and click the submit button to complete your application.

For any other questions, please contact [email protected].

Application Deadline

Application Deadline

All applications are due in by 11:59 pm EST on July 24, 2019.


June 26, 2019 Application release date
July 9, 2019  WATCHInformational webinar
July 10, 2019 WATCH Informational webinar
July 24, 2019 Application due date
August 2019 Notification of funding decisions
October 2019 Grant period begins
Summer 2020 Grant ends

The application period is closed.

How Leanring Happens Partners

How Learning Happens Partners

America’s Promise Alliance is leading the How Learning Happens effort in partnership with:

Carnegie Corporation of New York
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
NoVo Foundation
Pure Edge
Raikes Foundation
Wallace Foundation