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Focus Area 1B

Align Resources to Support SEL

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

As you develop an action 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 these questions to identify areas for continuous improvement:

Does your budget support your goals and reflect your school’s SEL priorities?

Is there a stable, long-term budget for SEL resources, including professional learning? Is staffing for SEL built into the school’s financial plan?

Has staff time been allocated for engaging in SEL-related activities, including professional learning?

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

To help identify the specific resources, review some common budget considerations for each of the four focus areas of schoolwide SEL implementation listed below.  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 for 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 SEL team members are frequently required to meet or work after regular hours, you may need to pay an hourly rate (make sure to reference any relevant union contracts). Alternately, your school may want to offer a flat annual stipend to acknowledge the work they do outside school time. You may also offer stipends 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 to an existing staff member’s duties.

Team supplies/materials: This includes costs associated with printing meeting agendas, team supplies, or items to 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. 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: Include costs to develop, print, and distribute newsletters and reports or develop a webpage/social media strategy to share SEL efforts and progress. 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

Pay 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 or 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 environments.

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 program, 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 presentation 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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