How can SEL be used as a lever to advance equity? A good starting point is to use an equity lens to re-examine our widely used five-part SEL framework. This re-examination set the stage for our 2020 revisions to that framework.

We recommend that communal values and a positive ethnic-racial identity be included as key components of self-awareness, particularly for marginalized youth whose culture and ethnic/racial group membership has been disparaged historically or is currently diminished within mainstream cultural institutions, such as schools. Supporting the development of these assets should buffer children and youth from the negative impacts of internalized, interpersonal, and institutional oppression and provide pathways for constructive, collective responses.

Further, all youth should be aware of the cultural features and power dynamics of interactions with peers and adults from diverse ethnic/racial and economic backgrounds.

The brief also describes some school-based programs and practices that might foster transformative, equity-elaborated SEL competencies. These include: culturally responsive and relevant teaching; community building; efforts to develop students’ ethnic and racial identities; and project-based and experiential learning opportunities such as service learning.

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