Why investing in SEL as a school should be a no-brainer


If you’re in charge of a school’s budget, you routinely face difficult decisions. Should you extend the hours of after school programs? Is renovating your playground the best use of funds? Should you provide more snacks at faculty meetings (yes please!)?

When making budgeting decisions like these, you have to balance a myriad of varying viewpoints. What programs do parents want? What trainings do teachers desire?  What supports do students need? All these and more need to be taken into account when choosing where to spend a school’s precious resources.

The good news is that there is one type of program that appeals to administrators, parents, teachers, and students: social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. Here’s why funding SEL is a no brainer.

  1. SEL is a prudent long-term investments

    When choosing what to fund, you want to know if whatever you’re going to fund is a worthwhile long-term investment. With limited resources, you need programs you pay for to bring about tangible benefits. A recent study from Columbia University helps take the guesswork out of whether to invest in SEL. In the study, researchers found that SEL programs bring about an 11 to 1 return on investment.

  2. Students, teachers, & parents agree that SEL should be a top priority

    Getting a majority of students to agree on anything is difficult. Getting 90% of teachers and parents to agree on something might be even harder. SEL is that something that students, teachers, and parents agree on. According to a study conducted by the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development, “more than nine in 10 teachers and parents believe that social and emotional learning is important to education” and “at least two-thirds of current and recent high school students think similarly.” ASSET Education’s SEL program found 82% of students recommended that the SEL program continue at their school. I’d love to say that just as many students would recommend my U.S. History lessons, but I wouldn’t bet on that. From parents to teachers to students, all agree that it is essential that schools provide SEL programs. Implementing SEL programs at your school is a great way to engage all stakeholders and show that your funding priorities align with the priorities of students, teachers, and parents.

  3. Students reap A LOT of benefits from SEL

    Most important to any school initiative is that it results in positive benefits for students, and SEL programs bring about a multitude of positive results. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) found that SEL interventions “increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points, compared to students who did not participate in such SEL programs.” Equally as impressive was that the benefits accrued from participating in SEL programming, such as improved academics and decreased misbehavior, can last up to 18 years. The research is conclusive: SEL reinforces academics in a way that strengthens students’ ability to reach their full potential.

With all this in mind, funding SEL programs should be a slam dunk. SEL programs bring together your community and result in long-term benefits to students.


About the Author

Brent Modak followed the example set by his grandfather and entered the classroom first as a middle school teacher before moving up to teach high school history. As a member of the ASSET team, Brent helped develop the curriculum and led in the implementation of the program across all of ASSET’s partner schools. When not teaching Brent enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and newborn baby, Lewis.


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