News & Event
In 2015, the foundation awarded planning grants to the Bellingham, Milford and Framingham Public Schools to develop plans for implementing a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) framework within their respective districts. SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, and make responsible decisions. Research shows that children with strong social-emotional skills perform better in school, have more positive relationships and better mental health outcomes.
Now with their plans complete, the foundation's board of trustees recently approved three-year, $105,000 implementation grants for each district. The grants are designed to help each school system train personnel in grades K-5 on SEL systems, beliefs and practices leading to improved school culture. In addition to the grants, the foundation will be supporting the districts through a "learning community" where they can share best practices and learn from those systems that have successfully implemented SEL practices.
Continuing with our strategic focus on adolescent mental health services, the foundation recently funded a number of local school systems to address the mental health needs of their students.
King Philip Regional School District received a grant of $70,000 to replicate the evidence-based BRYT Program at King Philip Regional High School. BRYT stands for the Brookline Resilient Youth Team, a unique program started at Brookline High School that provides support for students returning to school from a hospitalization due to a behavioral health issue. The BRYT Program provides clinical coordination between students, families and school personnel during a crisis and the re-entry process. With the King Philip grant, the foundation has now supported replication of the BRYT program in seven area school systems.
A new grant to the Mendon-Upton Regional School District is allowing school personnel to be trained in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy or DBT. Staff can use DBT skills, such as mindfulness and distress tolerance, to teach students how to manage specific challenges and events, making it easier for them to remain in the classroom. The foundation funded a similar program within the Millis Public Schools that demonstrated a significant decrease in student counseling referrals for self-harming behaviors.
The foundation is also excited about a new three-year grant we recently made to Wellesley College that will be developing and evaluating a comprehensive program to address youth depression and suicide ideation. The three-year grant will enable researchers at Wellesley to conduct universal telephone depression screening of Natick High School students and make appropriate referrals for prevention and treatment. The program will also refer students to a unique web-based resource that can help students strengthen protective factors and reduce their vulnerability to depressive disorders. For the Natick Public Schools, this project fits within their strategic goal of improving academic achievement by incorporating best practices that address wellness and reduce student stress.
Read more about our work to address adolescent mental health in the initiative section of our website.
The survey captures data from 40,000 middle and high school students in 26 MetroWest school districts, providing important adolescent health data on key areas of concern including substance use, bullying, mental health, sexual behaviors and protective factors.
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