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Laura Freveletti, Senior Program Officer at the Allstate Foundation
Why do you believe the field of social and emotional learning (SEL) is gaining momentum?
In boardrooms and classrooms alike, there is greater understanding that academics alone aren’t enough to prepare America’s youth for successful futures. Today’s young people must navigate an increasingly complex, competitive and globally connected world. This requires confidence, self-awareness, perseverance and an understanding of our differences – all skills that are cultivated through service-learning (volunteering paired with structured preparation and student reflection), and social and emotional learning.
The desire to see the next generation succeed unites us all – businesses, educators, families and civic organizations. As we work together to empower youth, we continue to grow the number of cross-sector partnerships. These collaborative efforts give strength to the work of organizations like CASEL and introduce SEL to new audiences in various ways, such as volunteering and sports.
The Allstate Foundation has made a commitment to advancing service-learning and SEL for all young people. How do you and The Allstate Foundation see these efforts as critical to preparing for the future?
The Allstate Foundation believes that empowering our youth is key to creating more prosperous communities. Giving back and supporting the communities we live and work in helps us all get a little closer to fulfilling our hopes and dreams. Our current efforts are about preparing youth for the future by increasing their access to programs that provide a service-learning curriculum and build SEL skills.
Because Allstate cares so deeply about its communities, we have taken a stand for the importance of SEL skills among youth and are providing opportunities for them to apply those skills by giving back and making a difference. By 2022, Allstate and The Allstate Foundation will have invested $70 million to help ensure that at least 25 percent of our nation’s youth are served by SEL and service-learning programs. It’s a social investment with an extraordinary return on investment and fills a void within our educational system today.
What are the skills you seek for the current and future workforce and how do you see school programs that include service-learning and classroom experiences that focus on SEL as the best preparation for that workforce?
Nearly nine out of ten business leaders agree there will be an increasing need for SEL skills among future employees. These skills include problem-solving, empathy and collaboration. However, high school students don’t believe their schools are doing enough to equip them in this area. In a recent report made possible by The Allstate Foundation, only one-third (36 percent) of current U.S. high school students believe their schools are providing them with these critical skills.
We need these skills in our future workforce, which is why we’re committed to invest in programs that cultivate them. Through our partnership with CASEL, Laureus Foundation USA, WE Charity and more, The Allstate Foundation sponsors programs that provide educators and students with curriculum, educational resources and ideas that drive positive impact. Participating students can put key SEL skills into action through service-learning activities that change their communities and the world.
How can the business community support the education community in making the necessary advancements to ensure young people are prepared for success in school, work and life, and how do you hope the upcoming SEL Exchange captures and advances that momentum?
We all play a critical role in improving young people’s ability to channel their talents and passions to build a better world. This includes business leaders like me and the corporations we represent. We need to make changes and do more to help youth develop the skills and abilities to be productive members of the workforce, engaged citizens in our democracy and fulfilled adults.
Partnerships between the business and education communities can increase awareness about the connection between SEL and the future success of our youth. It’s time we expanded our efforts to be sure all students have access to this kind of learning.
It’s an honor to sponsor the inaugural SEL Exchange in Allstate’s hometown of Chicago. There is great value in creating spaces for this kind of collaboration and dialogue needed to advance SEL through research, curriculum and policy. We anticipate this conference will spark many great ideas among educators and practitioners, researchers and scholars, policy-shapers and funders to propel our young people into lives of impact.