SEL as a Lever for Equity & Excellence

CASEL continues to be committed to advancing equity and excellence in education through social and emotional learning (SEL). Through ongoing efforts with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers, CASEL has been deepening what we know about SEL and equity, recently published in updated definitions of SEL and our framework. Information about our initiatives and access to our resources to advance SEL as a lever for equity are below.


    We are leading collaborative efforts with partner organizations to develop a transformative SEL framework. Transformative SEL is anchored in the notion of justice-oriented citizenship, with issues of culture, identity, agency, belonging, and engagement explored as relevant expressions of the five core SEL competencies.


    CASEL continues to clarify and improve our systemic approach to SEL to help cultivate adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive school communities. We are updating and improving our theory of action, guides, and resources to advance equitable learning environments where all students and adults feel respected, valued, and affirmed in their individual interests, talents, social identities, cultural values, and backgrounds.


    With a growing number of partners, CASEL is creating a more comprehensive approach to education, one that will lead to a more equitable, just, and productive society. Through key initiatives with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers, CASEL is creating, testing, measuring, and refining practical approaches for SEL with important implications for promoting identity, agency, belonging and civic engagement among children, youth, and adults.

    For example, since 2016, CASEL has convened an Equity Work Group with SEL and Equity leaders from 20 school districts and organizational partners.


    CASEL is committed to sharing important perspectives from leading researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. Through weekly webinars, a curated resource library, and social media channels, we provide expertise and guidance on issues of equity and diversity; building community and positive relationships; strategies for addressing systemic oppression and racism; and more.

    • Curated resources in response to COVID-19: Actions for Equity
    • Owning Your Power to Raise Kids That Challenge Racism with Dr. Bloodine Barthelus and Dr. Debbie Rivas-Drake. Webinar
    • The Urgency of Educational Equity Now with John B. King, Jr. and Karen Pittman. Webinar
    • Leading for Equity in Challenging Times with the National Equity Project. Webinar
    • Building a Culture of Equity Through SEL with Robert J. Jagers, Taryn Ishida, Roberto Rivera, Dena Simmons, and Meena Srinivasan. Conference Plenary Video
    • SEL Research Library: Category – Equity
  • 5-Part Webinar Series

Recommended Resources

CASEL: Emerging Insights on Advancing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as a Lever for Equity and Excellence
  • This CASEL report summarizes five emerging insights on advancing SEL as a lever for equity and excellence that districts at all stages of their SEL implementation can reflect on as they shape their strategies
ASCD: How to Be an Antiracist Educator
  • This piece delineates what it means to practice anti-racism and provides actionable strategies for being an anti-racism educator
  Facing History and Ourselves: Let’s Talk: Discussing Race, Racism, and Other Difficult Topics with Students
  • This guide provides strategies that educators can use to facilitate open conversations with students talk about the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of social inequality and discrimination
  NAEYC: Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families
  • This article addresses the importance of talking about race and racism in developmentally appropriate ways with young people
  National Museum of African American History and Culture: “Talking About Race” Web Portal
  • This online portal is designed to help educators, families, and other individuals talk about racism, racial identity, and the way these forces shape society
  EdWeek: 15 Classroom Resources for Discussing Racism, Policing, and Protest
  • This article offers a list of resources specifically for classroom teachers, based on experiences of other teachers across the country
  Facing History and Ourselves: Reflecting on George Floyd’s Death and Police Violence Towards Black Americans
  • This teaching guide will help teachers begin conversations with their students about George Floyd’s death and the events that surround it, including reflection activities to prepare for teaching, creating space for emotional processing, and diving deeper with multimedia tools
NEA: Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School
  • This white paper presents ten areas of focus (with complementary strategies) for creating a classroom space and culture where students feel comfortable talking about racism
The Atlantic: What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently
  • This short article describes the mindsets necessary to engage in anti-racist teaching practices and support the success of all students
Teaching Tolerance, via Greater Good Science Center: Common Beliefs Survey – Teaching Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students
  • This professional learning activity leads staff to reflect on their beliefs and then critically examine commonly held beliefs about how to meet the learning needs of racially and ethnically diverse students
NCTSN: Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom – A Resource for Educators
  • This professional learning tool defines key terms, describes developmental differences in how children may be affected by racial trauma, and offers recommendations for creating a more trauma-informed classroom
Teaching Tolerance: Talking to Students About Race and Ethnicity
  • Packaged tools, webinar, and publications to support conversations with students about race, the Black Lives Matter movement, and injustice
Greater Good in Education: Standing Up Against Discrimination
  • In this high school level jigsaw activity, students explore real-world examples to identify peaceful ways of responding to discrimination when they see it
Teaching Tolerance: Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters, Part I
  • This article discusses the history and importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and explores effective strategies for addressing the movement with young children
EL Education: Reopening Guidance: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools
  • This toolkit centers equity in planning for reopening as an opportunity to re-examine, transform, and improve our systems to more wholly center on the experiences of our students and staff. The guidance and support for schools and districts includes SEL, as well as trauma-informed and cultural competent practices.