CASEL Weissberg Scholars

Program for Innovators of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning

To inspire the next generation of innovators who will strengthen the vision of social and emotional learning (SEL), CASEL introduces the CASEL Weissberg Scholars program. The program will provide educational and professional development and create a collaborative community of early career scholars who are eager to make a difference with SEL.

Early career scholars are defined as individuals who have received their Ph.D., Ed.D., or equivalent research degree between January 2016 and October 2021, and have demonstrated experience and a commitment to collaborative research approaches.

Thank you to Pure Edge for sponsoring the first cohort of CASEL Weissberg Scholars.

Support the program today! You can donate to CASEL Weissberg Scholars online or mail a check to CASEL Lockbox P.O. Box 95253, Chicago, IL 60694-5253. Please note CASEL Weissberg Scholars on your check.

The application for the 2021-2023 CASEL Weissberg Scholars cohort is closed. The application cycle for the next cohort will open in the summer of 2023. Sign up here to be alerted!

Honoring Dr. Roger P. Weissberg

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Dr. Roger P. Weissberg and his research work have played a unique role in the evolution and maturation of the field of social and emotional learning. To honor his efforts as a collaborator, mentor, and founding thought leader in the field, CASEL is seeking scholars and educators who embody Dr. Weissberg’s commitment to SEL.

Dr. Weissberg was CASEL’s chief knowledge officer and board vice chair, and Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For four decades, he trained scholars and practitioners about innovative ways to design, implement, and evaluate family, school, and community interventions. His more than 260 publications focused on positive youth development programming to enhance the social, emotional, and academic learning of children and adolescents.

The Advisory Committee is led by Drs. Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Paul Goren (Northwestern University) with Marc Brackett (Yale University), Mark Greenberg (Penn State), Robert J. Jagers (CASEL), and Timothy Shriver (Special Olympics)
The CASEL Weissberg Scholars Program is the most meaningful honor of my professional life. I am excited that my colleagues and I will provide learning experiences and supports to early career scholars who will advance evidence-based practices and policies to improve the positive development and life opportunities of millions of young people.
Dr. Roger P. Weissberg

Becoming a CASEL Weissberg Scholar

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CASEL is committed to supporting those seeking a career in the field of SEL and that are working at the intersection of research and practice. Participation in the two-year CASEL Weissberg Scholars program will enable scholars to gain valuable exposure to the SEL field and allow them to interact with thought leaders in SEL research, practice, and policy. In addition, selected scholars will be provided mentorship from senior scholars in the field of SEL and receive guidance and support in the scholar’s pursuit of educational and professional goals to innovate and advance SEL.

Applicants will be selected and invited to engage in:

  • Two year commitment, beginning in late Fall, 2021.
  • Mentorship with a leader in SEL research, practice, or policy. Mentors will be matched with each CASEL Weissberg Scholar based on shared interests.
  • Attend regular meetings and seminars, including:
    • The SEL Exchange Virtual Summit, hosted annually by CASEL in the Fall.
    • One, small in-person meeting with scholars, mentors, educators, policymakers, etc. in the spring (location TBD).
    • Ongoing virtual seminars with leaders to provide an opportunity for small group discussions and dialogue.
      • Have received a Ph.D., Ed.D., or equivalent research degree between January 2016 and October 2021.
      • Demonstrate experience/commitment to collaborative research approaches on SEL that include at least one of the following: educators, families, community, policymakers, children and youth.
      • Currently work in settings that include, but are not limited to, university/college, school districts, research organizations, policy institutes, non-profits, or state or federal departments of education.
      • Should conduct research that takes place in real-world settings.
    • Selection is based on the applicant’s potential to become an innovator in SEL research, practice, and policy. The application should make a cohesive argument for how the applicant will expand their expertise by participating in the CASEL Weissberg Scholars program.

      For more detailed information on the application process and material, view the application overview. Download the PDF

      • Curriculum vita or resume (please do not include acronyms).
      • Career Statement Narrative (four-page limit).
      • Sample publications/reports or equivalent (submit up to three). 
      • Professional references, listing names, e-mails, and addresses (three required). 
      • Optional: Provide the names of up to three senior scholars in the field of SEL who you would like to serve as your mentor. Note: we may not be able to accommodate all requests. 

2021-2023 CASEL Weissberg Scholars

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    • Pilar Alamos is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development. Pilar’s research focuses on teacher-child interactions and relationships in early childhood education settings. Pilar is particularly interested in understanding how and why relationships support young children’s emotional development, how to improve conflictual teacher-child relationships, and whether relationships are resources for teachers themselves.

      Ross C. Anderson holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership from the University of Oregon and is currently Principal Researcher at Inflexion, Associate Scientist at Oregon Research Institute, and Co-Founder of Creative Engagement Lab, LLC. At Creative Engagement Lab, he and colleagues design and research innovations to support the integration of creative engagement and the arts across the K-12 school experience to enhance the social-emotional well-being and academic goals of teachers and students. His research focuses on fostering agentic, artistic, and creative development in both educators and youth to drive equity, cultural identity, and overall well-being in school. Additionally, his work in the National Science Foundation-funded, My STEM Story project, focuses on capturing the real-life experiences and collective goals of BIPOC students in STEM pathways as a means of developing the identity and motivation of younger students with STEM interest.

      Josefina Bañales, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Prevention Research Area at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Dr. Bañales infuses her personal experiences as a Mexican American woman who is a first-generation high school, college, and doctoral student from the Southwest side of Chicago with her community-engaged research with youth of color in schools and community organizations. Her research examines how youth develop beliefs, feelings, and actions that challenge racism (i.e., youth critical racial consciousness development). In collaboration with youth, schools, parents, and community organizations, she co-creates opportunities that facilitate youths’ critical racial consciousness development. Dr. Bañales loves hot black coffee, singing, and walking at a very leisurely pace.

      Summer S. Braun, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and affiliated with the Center for Youth Development and Intervention at the University of Alabama. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State University, where her training motivated her to consider development in context. Her research centers on schools as a particularly important context for children’s development. Her program of research focuses on understanding the associations between teachers’ occupational health and well-being and their students’ social, emotional, and behavioral development using a variety of methodological approaches. Her work bridges research and practice by studying interventions designed to support the health and well-being of teachers and students, such as mindfulness-based wellness programs.

      Marisa Crowder is a researcher at McREL International, working in partnership with educators in K-12 and higher education systems in Hawai‘i and U.S.- affiliated countries and territories in the Pacific region. Marisa has led projects in Hawai‘i and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that aim to deepen educators’ understanding of ways they can implement SEL in a manner that fits their local context. Her career began at the Washoe County School District (WCSD) where Marisa supported the development of the WCSD Social-Emotional Competency Assessment (WCSD-SECA) and investigated how its dimensional structure varies across student subpopulations. Marisa’s experiences have highlighted a need to develop resources that empower educators to create or adapt effective SEL programs, practices, and assessments that are culturally relevant for their students. To address this, Marisa’s research interests center on identifying promising practices that support culturally relevant SEL across multiple cultural contexts, and for all learners.

      Jerome Graham is an Assistant Professor of K-12 Educational Administration at Michigan State University. His research interests focus broadly on the interaction of race and class in educational policy and practice. Specifically, Jerome uses mixed-methods research designs to evaluate the effects of education reforms that target minoritized students and the mechanisms that drive such reforms. His current research background emphasizes how schools can provide constructive school climates for students, which facilitate the process by which they develop cognitive and socio-emotional skills to improve their short- and long-term outcomes. His theoretical orientation is psychosociological, in that Jerome’s research agenda focuses not only on persons’ individual development (academic, emotional, and otherwise) but also on the social structures that influence their development.

      Casta Guillaume, Ph.D., serves as Director of Research, Learning, and Evaluation at the National Equity Project. Her action-oriented approach to research privileges intergenerational connections. She applies an intersectional feminist lens and community based research methodologies to develop strategy and research-practice partnership models that support both young peoples’ and adults’ social emotional and socio-political development.

      Julia Mahfouz, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Leadership for Educational Organizations program, School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado-Denver. Her research explores the social, emotional, and cultural dynamics of educational settings placing specific emphasis on Adult SEL, specifically school administrators, and the integration of systemic SEL into principal preparation programs. Thus, she has implemented mindfulness and SEL-based professional development programs to understand how such programs can improve principal wellbeing and leadership. She has also investigated how preparation programs and certification standards can be strengthened to enhance effective leadership by supporting principals to deepen their social and emotional competencies.

      Christina Mondi-Rago, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital) and a Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She earned her PhD in Developmental and Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and did her undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Mondi-Rago’s research focuses on the assessment and promotion of socio-emotional learning and mental health starting in early childhood, with an emphasis on populations affected by poverty and trauma. She is particularly interested in the role that early care and education programs can play in promoting lifelong wellbeing.

      Danielle Hatchimonji is an Assistant Research Scientist at Nemours Children’s Health, a health system spanning the Delaware Valley and Florida. She received her PhD in Psychology from Rutgers University and remains affiliated with the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab ( She researches how schools and healthcare systems can advance equity and promote social-emotional and character development for all children toward the ultimate goal of creating a more just and equitable world.  

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