Collaborating Districts Initiative

In 2011, CASEL took an unprecedented step: an initiative to study and scale high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) in complex school systems.

To guide quality implementation, CASEL launched the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI) in 2011 to partner with school districts across the country and support their efforts to implement social and emotional learning (SEL).

The initiative began an unprecedented step with SEL: study and scale high-quality, evidence-based SEL in eight of the largest and most complex school systems in the country. Its goal was to create a comprehensive shift in how superintendents and entire school districts approach education.

In our webinar on SEL and Sustainability, we reflected on our decade partnering with the CDI and shared insights from our full report.


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Over the last decade, the CDI has become a sustained and comprehensive initiative that has made SEL an integral part of education across 20 large, complex school districts. With their generous partnership, what we’ve learned has now reached thousands of school districts and millions of students in the U.S. and abroad. Our work has confirmed and fortified our initial belief that systemic SEL implementation is not only possible, it is sustainable and powerful.

As the name implies, the CDI is a truly collaborative endeavor. Our partner districts are pioneers in building understanding about and knowledge of systemic SEL implementation. Central to the initiative is the idea of co-learning. We have worked closely with the CDI districts to hypothesize, field test, and document the best practices for SEL implementation with their staff, students, families, and communities to create supportive, enriching education environments where students thrive.

The bottom line: When implemented systemically, SEL can undergird all other educational priorities in ways that shape the district’s staff culture, family and community partnerships, and student outcomes.

      • Anchorage, AK
      • Atlanta, GA
      • Austin, TX
      • Baltimore, MD
      • Boston, MA
      • Chicago, IL
      • Cleveland, OH
      • Dallas, TX
      • Denver, CO
      • Dupage County, IL
      • El Paso, TX
      • Guilford, NC
      • Minneapolis, MN
      • Nashville, TN
      • Oakland, CA
      • Palm Beach, FL
      • Sacramento City, CA
      • Tulsa, OK
      • Warren City, OH
      • Washoe County, NV

New Report: What Makes SEL Last

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Our 2021 report looks back on 10 years of collaboration and asks the question, “What makes SEL last?”. In the report, we summarized six elements for sustaining SEL:

We are hopeful that the stories and insights gained over the last decade will provide guidance and inspiration that can help districts everywhere make SEL an integral part of students’ education. For more, access the full report.

Video Series: What I Wish I Knew

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Hear from district leaders as they share advice on what they wish they had known when they began implementing SEL:

To hear from more district leaders, view the whole video series.

Webinar: Sustaining SEL

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