A project of the Afterschool Alliance

Social and Emotional Learning

Since the beginning, afterschool programs have been places where children and young people can connect to positive adult mentors, feel safe to try new things, and have the opportunity to learn new skills. Whether academic, artistic, or athletics-focused, afterschool programs offer the chance to develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills like self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, self-management, and relationship skills like communication, teamwork, and collaboration.

That means there is a lot to celebrate, especially during Lights On Afterschool! Bring SEL to your event with these ideas.

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Fund your youth service project

With generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Youth Service America (YSA) will award Afterschool Grants of up to $500 each to support youth-led service or service-learning in afterschool programs. Grants are offered on a competitive application basis and open to any afterschool program that meets the following requirements:

  • Grantees will engage at least 50 youth as volunteers in service or service-learning projects between November 2019 – May 2020;  
  • Grantees agree to submit an online impact report by May 31, 2020;
  • Preference will be given to programs that engage a large percentage of youth from underserved communities; 
  • Applicants should focus on engaging middle and high-school aged youth;
  • Applicants may work locally, regionally, or statewide.  Afterschool coalitions are encouraged to apply and may be eligible for multiple grants;
  • Applicants must be based in the United States; and
  • Activities can take place any time between November 1 and the end of the 2019-2020 school year. We will provide additional planning resources to grantees for MLK Day of Service (January 20, 2020) and/or Global Youth Service Day (April 14-16, 2020); participation in both of these days is optional.

Applications will be accepted through Friday, October 4 at 11:59 p.m. your local time. Apply here. Please contact Karen Daniel, Vice President of Programs, with application questions at kdaniel@ysa.org.

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Empatico: A Platform for Empathy

Looking for ways to engage your students with peers from different backgrounds to build social emotional skills?

Look no further. Empatico connects groups of students ages 6-11 with peers domestically and around the world. Through a combination of live video and activities, youth have the opportunity to connect and find common ground with others that come from very different backgrounds through meaningful conversations that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy.

Read the blog

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More ideas for SEL fun
  • Get social—join the Lightbulb Challenge! Every year we host a social media challenge to recreate our Lights On logo! Strike the pose, snap a photo, and post it on social media, with a message of support for afterschool and the handle of the person you're challenging to participate. Use the tag #LightbulbChallenge and #LightsOnAfterschool.
  • Sign up for Empatico. Once you're matched with another group of students that have similar interests and availability, you can communicate with your partner group through Empatico’s messaging platform and celebrate Lights On Afterschool together!
  • Host a game night with an emphasis on teamwork! Grab a few board games, puzzles, or balls, and let kids and parents team up to work together and have fun.