At Born This Way Foundation, we’re proud to shine the light on organizations that are helping make the world a kinder, braver place. This month, we are excited to partner with Committee for Children and highlight the important work they’re doing to improve schools and communities. This guest blog post comes from Maurice J. Elias, an expert on social and emotional learning, and a devoted supporter of Committee for Children.
The Committee for Children (CFC) is a child advocacy and support organization that has had a wide impact on children across the world. The vision of CFC—safe children thriving in a peaceful world—isn’t rhetoric. It’s a commitment.
For over 37 years, CFC has recognized what children need to lead lives of dignity and accomplishment and have caring relationships with peers, families, co-workers, and community. They need more than academic intelligence; they need emotional intelligence and the skills to navigate the challenges of everyday life, large and small, in a wide range of circumstances. And so CFC has become a creative force for curricula that build social-emotional competencies and prevent specific problem behaviors, such as bullying and child maltreatment. They’ve reached over 25,000 schools in the United States and thousands more schools via partners in nations worldwide.
They implement their vision through their flagship social-emotional learning curriculum, the Second Step program, for students in Early Learning through Grade 8. The Second Step program has been developed in the spirit of continuous improvement over the years to serve as a resource for schools that has sound pedagogic design, empirical validation, and a structure that’s feasible and enjoyable for educators to implement and engaging to students.
CFC has long recognized that for children and educations worldwide, emerging challenges must be met with creative responses. Foremost, in my view, is its use of technology for implementation support. The CFC website has become a sophisticated repository of ideas for how to use the Second Step program and its Bullying Prevention and Child Protection Units. CFC has created networks of experts and learners at various levels who, through shared experiences, can make one another’s practice better and solve implementation problems being faced in the schools.
From this kind of dynamic, CFC has learned about the value of creating engaging story- and game-based materials. Enlisting distinguished children’s authors and using Claymation and other video technologies, CFC brings ideas to children and youth in words and pictures that captivate their imaginations and foster deep learning. And CFC has created simple, accessible Youtube videos for parents, knowing that this is an optimal way to help busy moms and dads nurture the social-emotional competence and character of their children.
Generous Collaborator and Field Builder
Perhaps what I admire most about CFC is that its focus is on children thriving—not CFC thriving as children’s unique ally. CFC believes that “all boats rise together,” and so is extraordinarily generous as a convener and collaborator with other social-emotional learning program providers and child-serving agencies. Making everyone who serves children better will lift the fortunes of all children. In that same vein, CFC has been a remarkable and highly respected force for advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels. Its goal is not to bring the Second Step program to the fore, but rather to educate policy makers and decision makers about the essential role of social-emotional learning in all children’s academic and life success and in the turnaround of troubled schools.
CFC deserves recognition as a true friend to children, families, and educators. Its commitment to its vision is unwavering, expanding, and effective. I’ve learned so much from the work of CFC and the exemplary individuals at every level of the organization, and I know that I’m one of millions who have benefited from CFC in that way. This humane, unselfish, dynamic, field-building organization is a true inspiration.
About the Author Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D.
Maurice J. Elias is Professor, Psychology Department, Rutgers University, Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, and Academic Director of The Collaborative, Rutgers’ Center for Community-Based Research and Service. He is Past President of the Society for Community Research and Action/Division of Community Psychology (27) of APA and has received the SCRA Distinguished Contribution to Practice and Ethnic Minority Mentoring Awards, as well as APA’s National Psychological Consultants to Management Award.
Prof. Elias lectures nationally and internationally to educators and parents about students’ emotional intelligence, school success, and social-emotional and character development. A recent recipient of the Sanford McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education, among Dr. Elias’ numerous books are ASCD’s Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators, the Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving curricula for grades k-8, the new e-book, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (via Kindle and Nook) and a book for young children: Talking Treasure: Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children (www.researchpress.com, 2012).