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UC Berkeley Recognizes Social-Emotional Learning Program

CalHOPE Partnership Helping CA Schools Respond to Student Needs

Group posing with award

CalHOPE’s efforts related to social-emotional learning, using research findings to effectively prioritize and implement SEL, earned it an Award for Public Service from the UC Berkeley Chancellor.

Startling statistics presented in a recent Education Week report show that the mental health of teens and adolescents in the U.S. has steadily declined for more than a decade, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the trend. The article reported that, in 2021, 42% of high school students reported feeling so sad or hopeless for at least two consecutive weeks in the previous year that they stopped engaging in their usual activities. Research has demonstrated that implementing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)—the process of developing and learning to use social and emotional skills—helps reduce mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, and leads to an increase in student engagement.

The CalHOPE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Community of Practice is a statewide partnership helping build the capacity of California schools to implement and prioritize social-emotional learning. The partnership’s efforts were recognized at a ceremony held in Berkeley on April 15, becoming a recipient of the 2023–24 Chancellor’s Award for Public Service. A total of eleven awards were presented in a variety of categories.

“This award recognizes a deep partnership that is built on a foundation of trusting relationships and shared leadership,” said Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Associate Superintendent Brent Malicote. “I am confident that UC Berkeley and SCOE will be working together for many years to come.”

Mai Xi Lee, SCOE Director of Social-Emotional Learning, explained that the award is “a reflection on the collective efforts of all our partners statewide, including our county leaders and local educators, students, and families. It’s also a reminder of the power of cross-sector partnerships—especially linking research and practice, and finding opportunities to make a collective impact.”

The CalHOPE partnership is bolstered by a strong research priority with the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare serving as the project evaluator, the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center working to produce learning modules on SEL content and practices, and the Sacramento County Office of Education leading a statewide team to facilitate systemic implementation and continuous improvement efforts.

Valerie Shapiro, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, shared her excitement about the honor, saying, “We’ve felt the power of true partnership every day over the past three and a half years, but it is quite special for the Chancellor of U.C. Berkeley to have felt it, too—and to have honored our work in this way.” Professor Shapiro is the Scientific Director and Special Project Advisor to CalHOPE Student Support.

Additional program partners include the Center for Implementation, the Orange County Office of Education, Kelvin Education, California Friday Night Live, and all 58 county offices of education in California. Funding comes from the California Department of Healthcare Services through the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative. The ultimate goal is to build robust and sustainable systems for California students to thrive.

To learn more about CalHOPE and the SEL Community of Practice, and to learn about upcoming events, visit the CalHOPE website.

CalHOPE by the Numbers

  • Serves all 58 California counties
  • 100,000 students served by 8,063 educators at more than 250 schools designated as “focal sites”
  • 11,117 educators trained on SEL through learning modules offered by the Greater Good Science Center
  • 1,181 educators participated in 2023–24 SEL Foundations course
  • 170 school districts actively collecting CalHOPE surveys
  • More than 750 participants in the Statewide SEL and Wellness Summit
  • 31,139 students participating in California Friday Night Live chapters