Citizen Schools Supports Recommendations on How Learning Happens

Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development validates work of Citizen Schools to Ensure That Every Adolescent Has the Skills, Mindsets and Networks to Thrive


BOSTON, MA –  Citizen Schools strongly supports the recommendations released today by the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. “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 and emotional as well as 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. It 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.

“The findings from ‘A Nation at Hope’ resonate with what we have know drives our students’ engagement, inspiration and development everyday,” said Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools. “At Citizen Schools, we remain committed to providing our students opportunities, through mentorship and real world learning, that support the growth of the whole child.”

Citizen Schools, which is a members of the Commission’s Partner Coalition, is committed to advancing social, emotional, and academic development. Citizen Schools’ evidence-based model provides middle school students in urban communities with exposure to mentors and real world project-based learning that supports skill building in self-management, goal setting and future planning, and specific academic and career skills and knowledge. Citizen Schools is launching a new national initiative, Catalyst, to match middle school science and technology teachers with industry experts in the delivery of project-based learning experiences to promote whole child development.

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. Citizen Schools 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, the report 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.  

More information, including a toolkit to communicate about social, emotional, and academic development, is available at   

About Citizen Schools:

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit

Contact: Whitney Buckley, 617-695-2300 x1296,