SEL in Action Awards

The 2022 SEL in Action Awards application window is now closed. We aim to notify all applicants with their status by end of May 2022. 

NoVo Foundation is committed to supporting the spread of social and emotional learning (SEL) practices in schools and districts nationwide. We know practitioners have some of the most inspiring, effective and innovative ideas in the field. NoVo Foundation, in partnership with Education First and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, aims to seed projects that foster social and emotional competencies in students in grades PK-12. Whether you have an idea for a new initiative or want to expand or continue an existing project, we want to hear from you.

For the 2022–23 school year, we invited applications for the SEL in Action Awards from two applicant pools:

  1. School-based educators (including teachers, counselors, administrators and other school staff) seeking to implement SEL initiatives in classrooms or schools in the 2022–2023 school year, and
  2. District-level applicants seeking to implement SEL initiatives district-wide and/or across multiple schools within one district (including a charter network).

Grant awards for educator-led projects will be a maximum of $8,000 each. District-level grant awards will be a maximum of $30,000 each.

What’s New in 2022

Key changes to the SEL in Action Awards program from previous rounds of the grant program are summarized below:

  • Educator-led Award Maximum Grant: Educator-led awards formerly had a maximum award of $7,500. The new educator-led awards have a maximum award of $8,000.
  • District-led Award Maximum Grant: District-led awards formerly had a maximum award of $25,000. The new district-led awards have a maximum award of $30,000.
  • This is the final year of the grant program. The SEL in Action Fund has been providing grant funds and additional supports to educators since 2016, awarding 452 educator-led and 206 district-led grants to-date. Visit SELforteachers.org to view previous awardees. The grants awarded for the 2022–23 school year will be the final grants within the current version of this program. After this final round of grants, we’ll be taking time to celebrate, honor and understand the successes and challenges of the grant program and imagine ways to continue to support SEL for students, educators and communities.

Application Details

We sought applications which build and foster much greater compassion, to honor the assets and lived experiences of students, to build skills in people and groups to embrace and understand differences, and to work through challenges to promote healing from all forms of trauma and harm. We can—and must—create space for educators and students to imagine, build and lead us toward a better future built on racial and gender equity, social justice and restorative practices.

Though all proposals were welcome, we were also seeking proposals that specifically support one or more of the following student populations:

  • Boys and young men of color
  • English learners
  • Girls and young women of color
  • LGBTQIA+ students
  • Newcomers, including refugee students or recent immigrants
  • Students disproportionately affected by suspensions or the juvenile justice system
  • Students from native or Indigenous communities
  • Students impacted by housing inequities or homelessness
  • Students with disabilities

We will also give priority to projects that:

  • Are student-led, done with (not to) students, and/or community-based
  • Are focused primarily on student outcomes (as opposed to only adult outcomes)
  • Are original and innovative, and build off of existing evidence-based practices or the science of learning
  • Bring an orientation and analysis of racial and/or social justice
  • Demonstrate principal, school/district leader and peer educator support
  • Consider trauma-informed practices, implicit bias and culturally-affirming approaches to teaching
  • Are creating alternative and restorative practices of accountability
  • Foster deeper connections to nature or the natural world
  • Focus on teacher retention and morale

A complete list of eligibility requirements and selection criteria are available on the RFP and FAQ documents below.

The application deadline was 11:59pm PT on Monday, March 14, 2022. Applications must submitted through the online application portal.

We held two informational webinars about this grant opportunity and application process. You can view the recording of the February 3 webinar below.

Please send any additional questions about the RFP or application process to SELinAction@education-first.com.

SEL in Action 2022 RFP.
SEL in Action Awards 2022 FAQs.

Awardee Testimonials:
Previous awardees have told us how important this grant has been to their work. Hear their stories through these two-minute testimonials:

  • S. Renee Mitchell, Portland Public Schools: “I cannot separate SEL from trauma-informed practices from equity, because I work with youth of color.” Watch her full testimonial here.
  • Mickey Diamond and Gregory Simon, Hudson County Schools of Technology: “It’s been there all along, but having a language for it and having a program has been really helpful for me.” Watch their full testimonial here.
  • Krystal Morris, Broward County Public Schools: “When you feel cared about, you act like you’re cared about.” Watch her full testimonial here.

2021 Summary: In our sixth year, we received nearly 400 applications from 47 US States and the District of Columbia. Through a competitive process, 33% of applicants were selected: 64 educators and 61 districts. Read more about the award-winning projects here.

2020 Summary: In our fifth year, we received nearly 800 applications from all 50 US States and the District of Columbia. Through a competitive process, 19% of applicants were selected: 105 educators and 41 districts. Read more about the award-winning projects here. You can also view these project descriptions using an interactive search at this site: http://selforteachers.org/innovation-awards/

2019 Summary: In our fourth year, we received over 1,300 applications from all 50 US States, the District of Columbia and one US territory. Through a competitive process, 11% of applicants were selected, 101 teachers and 40 districts. Read more about the award-winning projects here. You can also view these project descriptions using an interactive search at this site: http://selforteachers.org/innovation-awards/

2018 Summary: In our third year, we received over 1,000 applications from more than 45 states. Through a competitive process, 12% of applicants were selected, 90 teachers and 34 districts. Read more about the teacher award-winning projects here. Read more about the district award-winning projects here. You can also view these project descriptions using an interactive search at this site: http://selforteachers.org/2018-innovation-awards/

2017 Summary: In our second year, we received over 800 applications from more than 40 states. 2017 was the first year we awarded district-level grants. Through a competitive process, 12% of applicants were selected, 67 teachers and 30 districts, with the complete list of selected awardees available here. We created a book to celebrate the achievements of these grantees, which can be found here: http://selforteachers.org/2017-resources/

2016 Summary: In our first year, we received a total of 430 teacher applications from 164 districts in 34 states. In August 2016, Education First announced 25 innovation awards to individual teachers and teams of teachers in 14 states. Find the list of 2016 recipients and descriptions of their projects here.

For more information about our support of SEL, see our SEL Teacher Practice website and publications Social and Emotional Learning: Looking Back, Aiming Forward and Social and Emotional Learning: Why Students Need It. What Districts are Doing About It.