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Focus Area 1B

Budget for SEL

Create a stable budget for SEL resources, professional learning, and staffing to support the sustainability of SEL efforts.

As you develop a plan for schoolwide SEL implementation, it is important to consider what resources are needed to move the work forward. Creating a budget for SEL helps schools ensure that resources are identified, prioritized, and funded. By dedicating resources to SEL, the school also sends a message to all stakeholders that SEL is a priority that is here to stay.

If you have already begun developing a budget for SEL implementation, use the rubric or the questions below to identify areas for continuous improvement: 

Is there is a stable budget for SEL resources and professional learning?

Is staffing for SEL built into the school’s financial plan?

Does the budget and school’s master schedule ensure time to support SEL at the classroom and school levels?

You can begin creating a budget for SEL by examining your school’s existing resources and how your district supports SEL. This means taking a close look at:

  • Your school’s existing budget and funding sources.
  • The resources currently dedicated to SEL (funding, staff, etc.).
  • Funds for existing programs/initiatives that could be reallocated to support SEL.
  • What support your district offers at little or no cost for SEL-related professional learning, curriculum, coaching, data collection, etc.

Then, review the goals in your SEL implementation plan and consider the following:

  • What specific resources are needed to achieve this goal?
  • What existing resources can fill this need?
  • What are the costs associated with any additional resources?
  • Where will funding come from (funds reallocated from other programs, district resources, fundraising efforts, etc.?)

To help identify the specific resources you’ll need, below are some common budget considerations for each of the four focus areas of schoolwide SEL implementation. You can use this template to help estimate associated costs.

Focus Area 1: Build Foundational Support and Plan

  • Stipends or extended day payment for team meetings or for work outside of regular hours: You’ll want to consider…More
  • Stipends or extended day payment for team meetings or for work outside of regular hours: You’ll want to consider whether participation on the SEL team is part of staff members’ regular duties, or whether to pay additional compensation. If staff are frequently required to meet or work after regular hours as part of their responsibilities on the SEL team, you may need to pay an hourly rate for their time (make sure you’re referencing any relevant union contracts). Alternately, your school may want to offer a flat annual stipend as an appreciation to SEL team members and an acknowledgment of the work they do outside of school time. These stipends may also be offered to family members and community partners who serve on the school’s SEL team.
  • SEL Lead/Coordinator salary or stipend: Some schools may decide to budget for a full-time or part-time staff member who is responsible for leading the SEL plan. Alternately, this role may be integrated into an existing staff member’s duties, and you may wish to provide a stipend.
  • Team supplies/materials: This includes costs associated with printing meeting agendas, team supplies, or items to motivate and build team morale (for example, meeting snacks, team t-shirts, etc.).
  • Foundational learning: Consider any costs for engaging an outside provider or community partner in leading foundational learning, or registration costs for sending SEL team members to training that helps them lead foundational learning for other staff and stakeholders. You may also want to consider a budget for engaging community and family members in the learning, such as costs associated with outreach, transportation, etc.
  • Communications: Costs to develop print and distribute newsletters and reports, or develop a webpage/social media strategy to share SEL efforts and progress with staff and stakeholders. You may also want to consider posters, photos, or schoolwide displays that share the vision for SEL or work related to SEL initiatives.

Focus Area 2: Strengthen adult SEL competencies and capacity

  • Payment for qualified providers to deliver professional learning aligned to the school’s SEL priorities and plans: This may include professional learning related to More
  • Payment for qualified providers to deliver professional learning aligned to the school’s SEL priorities and plans: This may include professional learning related to developing staff’s own social, emotional, and cultural competencies; strategies for integrating SEL into academic instruction; training related to the implementation of SEL programming, etc. You may want to first consider any professional learning that your school district already offers for free or at minimal costs to schools.
  • Registration fees for staff to attend workshops or conferences related to their personal SEL goals or professional skills for supporting students’ SEL.
  • Payment or stipends for staff who are attending professional learning or working outside regular hours.
  • Cost for substitute teachers if teachers need to engage in professional learning during class.
  • Other supplies or equipment to support a collaborative staff environment: This may include small tokens of appreciation, displays that honor staff for modeling SEL.
  • Meals/snacks: Some schools may provide lunch or snacks during professional learning, or choose to offer a periodic lunch to build community among staff.

Focus Area 3: Promote SEL for Students

  • Costs for evidence-based SEL programs or curriculum, and any associated membership/licensing fees. You may want to first consider any SEL programs or curricula that are provided by your school district.
  • Payment for qualified experts to provide technical assistance/coaching to the SEL team or teachers to support high-quality implementation of SEL programming.
  • Materials/supplies: This may include manipulatives, posters, or learning tools related to SEL programming, or displays that help promote supportive school and classroom learning environment.
  • Schoolwide activities: Consider any costs for hosting schoolwide events to promote SEL and student voice, such as a student-led conference to share their SEL goals or reflect on school climate. This may include facility costs, meals/snacks, etc.
  • Payments for community partners who provide aligned SEL programming during in-school or out-of-school time, or more intensive social and emotional supports for some students.
  • Family engagement: Stipends or transportation reimbursements, or meals/snacks for family and community members for contributing to aligned SEL efforts, such as parent/caregiver SEL discussion series.

Focus Area 4: Practice Continuous Improvement

  • Assessment/fidelity monitoring tools: If you’re using an evidence-based SEL programming, y…More
  • Assessment/fidelity monitoring tools: If you’re using an evidence-based SEL programming, you may choose to purchase tools that support you in monitoring fidelity of implementation.
  • Data collection: This may include costs associated with collecting and reporting data related to your SEL efforts. For example, if your school is conducting a staff survey, you may need to procure an online survey platform or print paper surveys.
  • Data analysis: Software, technical assistance, coaching or professional learning to help staff analyze and draw conclusions from SEL-related data.
  • Data reporting: For example, you may also wish to produce an end-of-year report that summarizes your SEL efforts to stakeholders.

There is strong evidence that SEL provides a return on investment in terms of long-term outcomes for both students and society as a whole (for example, this 2015 review from Columbia University shows that the average return on investment for six evidence-based SEL programs is 11 to 1, meaning for every dollar invested there is an $11 return.) For this reason, local businesses and charitable foundations are often eager to supplement school’s budgets to promote SEL through donations, grants, and fundraising events. If your district is not already supporting schoolwide SEL implementation, you may also want to reach out to your central office or School Board to request funding for SEL. Here is a powerpoint template you can download and use to help Make the Case for SEL.

Additionally, there are many opportunities nationally that can also help fund SEL. For example, Education First offers an SEL innovation fund, and websites like Donors Choose provide opportunities for teachers to raise funds for classroom SEL activities. You can also review this Guide to Federal Education Programs that can fund K-12 Universal Prevention and Social and Emotional Learning Activities.

Download Tool

Blank SEL Budget Template

This is a blank template you can use to estimate the costs for SEL implementation in your school.

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