Charleston, S.C., Jan. 15, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WINGS for Kids, an evidence-based leader and expert in social emotional learning (SEL), strongly supports the recommendations released today by the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The Commission’s report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, asserts that our nation is at a turning point: We now understand that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpin children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people with social, emotional, and academic needs. 

A Nation at Hope
emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice and helping students develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance requires systemic change. The report offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct.  

“This report is an important call to action to educators and the entire community to support and create environments that nurture the social, emotional, and academic development of every child,” said Bridget Laird, chief executive officer of WINGS for Kids. “In our two decades of work, we’ve seen firsthand the power of SEL and its positive impact on the lives of children both in and out of the classroom. WINGS is proud to be a part of this movement dedicated to developing the whole child, and we are eager to continue working with the Commission and partners in the field to advance this important work on behalf of all kids.” 

WINGS, which is a partner of the Commission and a member of its Youth Development Work Group, is committed to providing equitable access to quality SEL to more kids across the country through our evidence-based afterschool program, high-impact partnerships, and professional development workshops, in alignment with the Commission’s recommendations to embed social emotional skills in school- and program-wide practices, leverage community partners to address the whole child, and build adult expertise. To further this effort, this summer we will launch WINGS Across America, a national initiative to make SEL accessible for schools and out-of-school time programs by providing proven SEL content, resources, and simple and practical strategies for incorporating SEL into any environment.

What sets A Nation at Hope apart from other reports is the groundswell of support that has surged over the course of the Commission’s work and that now supports action across communities following its release. WINGS is one of nearly 100 organizations that have signed on in support of the report’s conclusions and recommendations as part of an ever-widening coalition committed to advancing the work. 

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators, and policymakers, A Nation at Hope seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts in local communities. These recommendations are especially pertinent as states and communities continue to leverage their increased authority on education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The report includes specific strategies that schools, districts, and communities can pursue related to each recommendation and examples of places that are engaged in these efforts.   

The report also outlines evidence that confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development has a positive impact on their attendance, test scores, success in college and careers, and overall well-being. This approach also improves students’ feelings about school and makes schools safer. WINGS’ recent randomized control trial (RCT) research study, the gold standard of education research, shows similar positive effects on children who participated in WINGS’ afterschool SEL program for two years.

More information about From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope and the Commission can be found at To learn more about WINGS and its evidence-based SEL programs and curriculum, please visit


About WINGS for Kids

WINGS for Kids is a nonprofit education program that equips at-risk kids with the skills they need to succeed in school, stay in school, and thrive in life. WINGS’ evidence-based approach combines a comprehensive social emotional learning curriculum, engaging afterschool programming, and high-quality training and professional development for practitioners and adults. As a result, the program fosters the mindset, skills, and confidence children need to behave well, make good decisions, and build healthy relationships.



Shaina Cook
WINGS for Kids