Tacoma Public Schools and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Receive Wallace Foundation Planning Grant to Help Students Develop Social and Emotional Skills

Tacoma Public Schools will partner with Greater Tacoma Community Foundation for national Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning initiative

Tacoma Public Schools will share a $400,000 grant with afterschool intermediary Greater Tacoma Community Foundation a local nonprofit organization that coordinates the sharing of best practices and resources among local afterschool programs in Pierce County. Together, they will devise a plan to help children in Tacoma develop positive social and emotional skills that are linked to success in school, career and life. These include abilities and traits such as teamwork, persistence, goal-setting, self-control and getting along with others.

Tacoma Public Schools and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation are one of nine community partner pairs nationwide to receive a planning grant. The grants are the first phase in the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning initiative, a new, multi-year effort by The Wallace Foundation to better understand how schools and afterschool partners can improve and align experiences and climate to foster children’s social and emotional learning.

A growing body of research, including the Wallace-commissioned University of Chicago study Foundations for Young Adult Success, has linked social and emotional learning – which are known by different terms including non-cognitive skills, character and life skills – to success in school, career and life. It is not yet known, however, how school and afterschool experiences can be aligned and delivered in real-world, urban settings to help develop these skills.

“There’s tremendous interest in helping children to develop the positive attributes and skills that are associated with well-being in and out of school and many models are being tested,” said Nancy Devine, the director of learning and enrichment at The Wallace Foundation. “We’re interested in exploring how an intentional partnership between school districts and organizations that provide programming during out-of-school hours can benefit young students.”

“For years, several Tacoma community partners have worked together informally and formally to create positive student experiences inside the classroom and after school,” said Carla Santorno, Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools. “This planning period, funded by the Wallace Foundation, offers the opportunity to better align and integrate these systems.”

“This grant recognizes Tacoma’s leadership in education reform,” said Kathi Littmann, President & CEO of Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. “University Washington Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools have been collaborating since 2011 on the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative, which fosters positive, safe, welcoming and equitable school environments needed for social and academic development.”

“In addition, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and Schools Out Washington, have worked together since 2010 to support the Youth Program Quality Initiative, which helps afterschool service providers, of all types, assess and improve their programs,“ Littmann continued.

Through the planning grant period, school districts and afterschool intermediaries will collaborate, over 10 months, to build a plan to improve adult practices that support the development of students’ social and emotional skills—with the implementation beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

Technical assistance and guidance will be provided to each pair of partners from national experts affiliated with the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, the Forum for Youth Investment and the Center for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

The Tacoma partners were among 24 districts with high proportions of disadvantaged students that were invited to apply for the planning grant last spring. The foundation drew those candidates from a pool of 145 that were identified by scans and nominations from the field. The initiative builds on The Wallace Foundation’s years of work in youth development, including a dozen-year effort to encourage citywide coordination for afterschool that yielded more than 40 publications, as well as work with urban school districts.

In the next phase, in summer 2017, up to six district-intermediary pairs will be selected from among the nine cities chosen for planning grants to receive three-year implementation grants from Wallace. This phase will also include comprehensive research by The RAND Corporation to provide useful new evidence to the field.


About Tacoma Schools
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more…

About Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation (GTCF) is a community-led nonprofit that helps people and organizations advance the causes they care about. GTCF provides donors exceptional insight into the region’s most pressing challenges and most promising opportunities. Since its establishment in 1981, the Community Foundation has grown substantially, distributing more than $100 million in grants and scholarships.